Chance to hone your career

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 January, 2007, 12:00am

TO MAINTAIN ANNUAL sales growth of more than 20 per cent, a top international engineering company is looking to recruit experienced technicians and production managers for its plants in China.

The Sandvik Group, which has its headquarters in Sweden, specialises in hi-tech material engineering. It operates in 130 countries and has about 40,000 employees worldwide. Annual sales last year topped 70billion Swedish kroner (HK$77.7billion).

The core businesses of the ISO-certified group include tooling and mining construction. The former involves the manufacture of cemented-carbide and high-speed tools for metalwork and cutting applications, which are used in the automobile and aviation industries, while the latter produces machinery and equipment for rock excavation.

In addition, a materials technology division makes stainless and high-alloy steels, special metals and resistance materials. These are generally for such products as surgical scalpels, as well as the coloured casings for mobile phones, MP3 players and digital cameras.

Sandvik established its first office in China in 1985 and formed a subsidiary in 1993. Today, there are four wholly owned manufacturing units. The largest of these is located at Langfang, south of Beijing, and produces cemented-carbide tools. A plant in Qingdao produces die-cutting steel for the packaging industry, and two further manufacturing facilities have been set up in Shanghai and Wuxi.

The total workforce employed in these mainland factories grew from 800 to 1,000 last year, and hiring is set to continue at a steady pace.

'Last year, we grew by 30 per cent in terms of invoiced sales,' said Svante Lindholm, president of Sandvik China Holding.

'When you grow fast, you also have to make sure you build a solid foundation, and have all the back-office services such as HR, IT, legal and finance departments in place. Also, it's very important to grow profitably.'

A priority is to hire 15 international staff to fill key positions. Openings are mainly for skilled technicians and production managers in materials technology, but several quality assurance managers are also needed.

'Hong Kong candidates have a big advantage because of their language skills, but they also find it easier to adjust to and understand the culture and way of working in China,' Mr Lindholm said.

Candidates for the production manager positions require specialist knowledge of tooling, stainless steel or mining equipment and, ideally, should have at least 10 years' work experience in the international arena. Having worked abroad before is a plus.

'Engineers working at our production plants have a lot of interaction with local staff, so Putonghua is a big advantage. Fluent English is also essential, as it's our working language.'

Anyone appointed as a production manager will have overall responsibility for every single aspect of a manufacturing process and that may involve being in charge of the day-to-day activities of as many as 200 employees, depending on the size of the plant.

'They should not only have the necessary technical skills and engineering background, but also a good record of being able to manage people and a production operation.'

All new hires will receive management and product-specific training in China, and more specialised instruction in Sweden.

Applicants for roles as production technicians require an engineering background, a relevant qualification, and five to 10 years' international experience. However, an engineering qualification is not a prerequisite for the quality assurance posts on offer.

'As long as candidates have enough experience in the relevant area, we will consider their applications,' said Mr Lindholm.

The company provides family-friendly relocation packages and salaries on a par with other multinationals operating in China.

'We're a family oriented company and have a code of conduct that ensures all our people are treated equally,' said Mr Lindholm. 'We have a turnover rate below 3.5 per cent. We offer training and good career opportunities.'

Slid foundations

Global engineering group, with headquarters in Sweden, is expanding in China

Technicians, production managers and quality assurance personnel are being recruited

Openings are in the areas of tooling and producing stainless steel and mining equipment

Candidates should preferably have international experience and a proven track record

Fluent English is essential and Putonghua is a major advantage

Applicants from Hong Kong could have a head start in fitting into the mainland's work culture

Competitive remuneration packages and extensive training opportunities offered