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Rewarding experience on the mainland
Published on Friday, 04 Dec 2009
Franco Cheung

Franco Cheung Koon-wah, deputy general manager of the Shenyang project office of Shui On Construction and Materials (Socam), describes his experiences working on the mainland.

I joined Socam in 2007 after working as an engineer in a Hong Kong construction company for more than 10 years.

After staying in the same field for such a long time, I found myself in a comfort zone and wanted more challenges than my position could offer.

An opportunity came at Socam and I was hired for the project management department. Initially, I oversaw projects from the Hong Kong office. Then the company asked me to relocate to Shenyang with my family in the middle of last year. I was appointed to look after the Shenyang Tiandi project, a property development that combines residential and commercial units, with a gross floor area of about one million square metres.

At first I felt half excited and half nervous. I knew it was going to be a big shift, having to move from the place I had lived in for many years to a second-tier city on the mainland.

I would need to adjust to a new culture, lifestyle and working environment, and to people with a different mentality. At the same time I saw it as a perfect opportunity to broaden my horizons and reach new heights in my career - it was the challenge I had longed for.

Working with over 100 people in the Shenyang office, I have had to get accustomed to the work pace on the mainland. Most importantly, I have had to become familiar with the local construction laws and regulations in order to do my job effectively.

Although I have been in Shenyang for less than two years, I take pride in the fact that our team has grown from 20 employees to over 100. Managing people on the mainland is different from what I would do in Hong Kong because they all have their own backgrounds. It is a challenge to get them all working together to achieve the company's goals. Our Shenyang Tiandi project has proved to be highly successful. Shui On Construction and Materials was the first to launch sales among Hong Kong property developers that acquired land in Shenyang in 2007.

Many believe China will be one of the strongest countries in the world in the coming decades.

Global companies that have long invested in the mainland remain positive about its long-term prospects. In my view the property market still has plenty of room to grow.

Working in the mainland's property industry can be quite rewarding. But the market is complex and you must spend a lot of time immersed in it before you can reap the harvest.