HK must stay a step ahead of the competition

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 April, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong companies involved in procurement and merchandising have long been among the best in the world at tracking down suppliers who offer the right combination of quality and value for money.

In doing this, they have built extensive contacts throughout China and the rest of Asia, while also becoming adept at restructuring their operations to cope with new buying patterns and shifting demand.

'There has been a paradigm shift in procurement routines and functions in line with the overall economic and commercial environment,' said Jeffrey Wong, chairman of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply - Hong Kong Branch. He noted, however, that from a macroeconomic standpoint, and thanks to the effects of globalisation, there was now a 'much bigger pie'.

Mr Wong said the outcome of all the changes was that Hong Kong had been able to move up the value chain. This enabled people with the necessary vision to develop new skill sets and expertise. They could then take full advantage of opportunities on offer in the mainland and elsewhere.

'Procurement professionals should expand their territory and not limit themselves to Hong Kong,' Mr Wong said.

He also emphasised the need to have the right mindset to accept change as inevitable and meet unexpected challenges. Whatever their main role, it made sense for people to learn about quality assurance, managing production and arranging shipments so that they had a clear understanding of the full procurement process. 'There could be a different scenario for senior and entry-level professionals,' Mr Wong said. But wherever someone stood on the career ladder they had to accept the realities of the business. This meant being prepared to travel to factories regularly, work long hours and realise that the competition for business would always be intense.

Junior staff in Hong Kong can probably still claim an advantage over their mainland counterparts in language skills and international knowledge. However, this was steadily being eroded.

Mr Wong said that the industry in Hong Kong should use this advantage to stay ahead of the competition for as long as possible. 'I think we are in a very good position to grow. Hong Kong is making its contribution and fostering the growth of the mainland procurement and merchandising industries and the supply chain. We should be proud of ourselves.'