Surge in electrical firm
Written by Daniel Cody
Flextronics is embarking on a major hiring drive to find highly motivated, flexible and innovative people
Senior executives at Flextronics say there is no secret to how the company maintains a leading position in helping household-name customers like Microsoft, Alcatel, Dell, Juniper Networks, Ericsson, Xerox and Hewlett-Packard, to design, build, ship and service award-winning electronics products.
They say it all boils down to hiring and motivating highly talented people to work in a competitive field.
The Singapore-headquartered firm foresees dramatic growth in the near term and a major hiring push is now under way to staff its network of facilities in more than 30 countries on five continents.
'We're at roughly US$16 billion in annual revenue now and we anticipate upward trends in our revenue,' said Richard Wong, who leads the firm's human resources arm.
As many as 50,000 additional employees would be hired throughout Asia. Some 5,000 to 8,000 of these would fill management jobs, Mr Wong said during a visit to the firm's R&D unit in Beijing.
Many of those positions will be in China and individuals from Hong Kong may have a distinct advantage in landing some roles.
'Hong Kong employees tend to have had good international exposure,' Mr Wong said. 'They are also quite comfortable working in a bilingual environment. That's important in working with foreign customers.'
People who have some previous exposure to China and its working practices have an advantage.
'The growth is here, the manufacturing is in China, the design is here. Some exposure here is good,' he said.
The company's manufacturing plants integrate all things electrical for many products - printed circuit boards, electromechanical components, subsystems and complete systems. The goods head to sectors such as aerospace, automotive, computing, consumer digital, industrial, infrastructure, medical instrumentation, and mobile device customers.
'You don't realise it, but we may make your MP3 player, your digital camera, your mobile phone, the electronic parts in your car ... things you'd never imagine,' Mr Wong said.
Flextronics executives pride themselves on promoting a corporate culture in which employees can challenge the status quo, say no to unnecessary bureaucracy and seek continuous improvement. Though the nature of the work means long, hard and challenging hours, people are empowered and heard.
In general, employees 'can expect that one day will not be just like the next', Mr Wong said.
'Our people have to learn quickly and have some agility and flexibility,' he said. 'They'll see different products and different customers. So in effect this requires people to be both a specialist and a generalist. Today you may be dealing with X, and tomorrow you're dealing with Y. There's a real need to be able to collaborate intensely with others.'
At the moment, managers are most needed largely in hard-skill areas like printed circuit-board production, injection moulding, prototyping, mould making, verification and validation. But there is also demand in areas requiring management experience in materials, purchasing, logistics, programming, quality and testing, procurement, equipment and facilities.
Certain general attributes rose to the forefront no matter what the occupational speciality, Mr Wong said. These include communication skills, flexibility, zeal for innovation, a passion for excellence and the ability to focus on customer success.
There are corporate tools for helping employees advance, including ongoing educational opportunities provided through a 'Flextronics University'.
State-of-the-art learning choices and services are offered through the university's integrated online system, to which all Flextronics employees enjoy access. Information on company topics includes: manufacturing operations, professional development, computer skills and best practices. The system also features an online library that houses common reference documents, training materials and reports.
The company's standard for remuneration is for employee compensation to be at the mid-point of the market, and to provide bonuses based on outstanding performance to bring individual compensation above the mid-point, Mr Wong said.
'What we offer is a place where there is plenty of room for people to develop and grow within their career,' said Mr Wong, a Hongkonger who spent many years working for corporations in Canada before returning to Asia. 'We want to hire people interested in growing and succeeding with the company and who really want to win.'
Flextronics has also been involved in providing disaster relief, medical aid, education, environmental protection, and promoting health and safety around the world. It has invested in such programmes through grants, volunteer work and donations.
The firm also works to improve its environmental performance and supports its customers through services, products and technologies that help to minimise harmful impacts on ecology or natural habitats.
Flextronics' keys to success
Be able to collaborate
Have a passion for excellence
Intense customer focus
Maintain commitment to improvement
Have a relentless drive to win