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Putting the pitch
Ginn Fung
update on Friday, February 17, 2012
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By offering "golf and more", Mission Hills Group has succeeded in growing from a golf club into an international brand that is renowned for its hospitality facilities and services. "Mission Hills is a fully integrated resort destination, and the experience we offer is complete. We are able to cater to guests who are as young as three months, to as old as 80," says chairman and CEO Ken Chu.

To date, Mission Hills has over 12,000 staff for its golf complex across Shenzhen and Dongguan - the world's largest - and another 3,000 at its golf resort in Haikou, the capital of Hainan.

Opened last year, the Haikou resort includes a five-star hotel with 518 rooms and suites, about 170 mineral-rich hot and cold natural spring pools, and a 20,000-square-metre spa, among many other top-end facilities.

What's more, Mission Hills has partnered with Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong Group to build an entertainment hub boasting 240,000sqm of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining attractions.

"I am also working with the Marriott [International] Group to bring their Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance brands to Haikou," says Chu. "And there will be much more coming to Mission Hills in the coming year."

To cope with the enormity of this expansion, the group plans to hire 8,000 more people within the coming two years.

"We do need a lot of rank-and-file first-line workers, as well as middle to senior management staff to lead them. And once the project [construction] is completed [in 2013], we will need experts in marketing, accounting, food and beverage, hotel management, property management, information technology and so on, to promote and operate it. We are creating a mini-country, a mini-township," says Chu.

According to him, staff will have opportunities to be exposed to different job facets, gaining wider career prospects. 

"To [engage youngsters], you have to give them room to grow, to experience and to learn," says Chu. "It's about cross-referencing and cross-exposure. [This is] what the Mission Hills platform is about."

These "young individuals" are most likely from Hong Kong who are "born with the talent of efficiency, doing things very quickly", and "who are adaptive to change" and "flexible".

"Mission Hills is a very 'Hong Kong-culture' company. I like working with Hong Kongers, and I like recruiting them for their abilities in Cantonese, Putonghua and English," Chu says, adding this is what China needs, and that English aside, they also provide training in Korean and Japanese.

However, candidates from Hong Kong do face competition from talent within the region, including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. "We have a lot of experts from these countries. They like to travel and gain overseas experience, and we like them because of their language abilities. Their mindset is very similar to that of Hong Kong [people] too," he says.

Chu points out that, by contrast, there are still some Hong Kongers who hesitate about living and working abroad, which may be disadvantageous to their careers. "[If candidates have the] same educational background, those with overseas working experience are valued more than those without," says Chu.

But overseas experience doesn't need to be from far. For Hong Kong people, it could merely be from across the border on the mainland, where tourism and the service industry is growing very rapidly, says Chu.

He adds that these "expatriates" are offered compensation including housing, flights and, in some cases, additional allowances.

According to Chu, the art to hospitality provision is smiling. "To me, having the right attitude and having the ability to smile is crucial," Chu says.

 

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