As a clear sign of business confidence, built-asset consultancy EC Harris has plans to double its regional headcount within the next fiscal year. It wants to take on as many as 400 recruits to expand operations in Hong Kong, the mainland, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan, as it seeks to maintain its rapid rate of growth over the past year.
"Our expertise is in helping clients maximise the value of the built assets in their property portfolios," says Chris Perry, a Hong Kong-based partner with EC Harris. "That includes advising on operations, facilities management, capital expenditure and possible cost savings, but it might also mean looking at the structure of their internal organisation to help run the portfolio better."
Depending on the project, driving value could involve changing a building's fa?ade, redesigning the retail or food and beverage layouts or reconfiguring mechanical and electrical services. The aim is to ensure each building, whatever its prime function, "works better" and is as operationally efficient as possible over the long term.
Providing such expertise for some of Hong Kong's best-known corporate names requires diverse capabilities. The firm employs project managers, quantity surveyors, architects, contract lawyers and engineers specialising in civil, building services and geotechnical work.
"We encourage broad skill sets and want our people to think like asset consultants," Perry says. "There are about 70 posts for which we are actively recruiting to meet specific needs, and we are looking at resource planning for further growth."
These roles are not just for qualified professionals with a few years' relevant experience. The firm is also interested in recent graduates and has a well-structured training programme to give them the right mindset and broader exposure through a series of job rotations and courses leading to a professional qualification.
Last year, there were 14 graduate recruits, who are now in line for international assignments and may work on new projects advising on aviation and health care facilities, sectors which offer big potential in Asia.
A key aspect of the training - and the overall corporate culture - is to ensure people think in terms of "positive outcomes" for clients and remain in touch with the many different aspects of the business.
"Our people could work on a major new development of 2 million square metres plus and, next, on an airport-related project," Perry says. "There is wide exposure, but we allow people to play to their strengths."
He suggests that, to impress at interview, candidates should look, act and think professionally. Those who do best come across as self-starters who can think of solutions quickly and have an international outlook. "As a premium service provider, we want to attract the best," Perry says.
Only the best
Performance review process focuses on results achieved and is closely tied to bonuses
Staff realise that growth depends on expanding relationships with clients
English is used for business, but knowledge of other languages always helps