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Succession planning
Staff Reporter
update on Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oliver Rust
Managing director, The Nielsen Company

The plan  

Every year, we have a consistent timeline to review our talent pool and succession plans in each market. At six-month intervals, we take a close look at individual career paths and the company's continuing needs to ensure there are sufficient "backfills" available to keep the business moving forward and give our colleagues the chance for promotion.


When identifying someone as "high potential", there are several key criteria we look at. The most important are outstanding on-the-job performance, the ability to stretch oneself to achieve the best possible results, and ambition for further career development. Personality is another key qualification, along with creativity and the desire to drive innovation, something that ties in with Nielsen's overall corporate vision. With various in-house projects, we can spot employees who are continuously looking for improvement and coming up with ideas in their area of focus.


We have a multifaceted approach to train potential leaders and equip them with the necessary skills. After pinpointing needs and obvious gaps, the company customises an individual development programme. The training covers hard and soft skills like leadership, communication, and emotional engagement. There is a structured and systematic plan to overcome areas of weakness and prepare people for bigger challenges ahead.

A mentoring programme is also in place, so that up-and-coming talent can discuss personal aspects of their development, not just what relates directly to work.

Senior managers act as mentors to ensure they understand the importance of an all-round perspective, and have someone to turn to for different viewpoints and practical advice.

Maurine Yeung
Head of people development, Swire Hotels

The plan

As part of our performance review process and individual development programme, managers have regular discussions with team members at all levels. In this way, it is possible to identify and record each person's strengths, areas for improvement, career potential and specific goals.  


The development programme mainly targets people we classify as "leader grade" and above.

The company's executive management group then conducts a formal annual review of the existing talent pool, looking at progress and potential for growth in both the short- and long-term. A key aspect is how to fulfil these development needs in the next 12 to 24 months, while meeting the main goals of the business. General managers and the people development department work together to facilitate moves and create opportunities.


The essence of good succession planning and the development of team members ensure two-way communication and understanding of our staff.

We want to inspire and encourage each person to build their own career, and manage talent to meet existing and future business needs. The company provides a variety of training programmes for communications, coaching, managing team performance, motivation and team-building skills. This has helped in the successful opening of The Upper House and EAST within the past year. We have been able to arrange quite a lot of internal promotions at the two hotels in the past six months, and verbal feedback from team members has been very positive.

People are generally very satisfied with how the company looks after them and with its commitment in terms of providing learning and development opportunities.

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