Company maps out career paths

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 March, 2008, 12:00am

To meet its evolving business needs, Aon Hong Kong, one of the largest insurance intermediary and risk management consulting services in the city, has been searching for new blood to fast-track through its Management Associate Programme (MAP).

The US-based corporate, ranked the number one global insurance brokerage last year based on brokerage revenues, has been using MAP since 2002.

'Many people misunderstand the nature of risk management, thinking we just sell insurance products. It's not that simple,' said deputy chief executive Ronald Lai Chi-shing. 'We have to understand the clients' needs and their industries, developing effective risk management and solutions.'

With about 360 professionals, the company's Hong Kong office and Asia-Pacific headquarters provides insurance brokerage, risk management and human capital risk consulting services to industries.

Its target candidates are final year students and university graduates. 'The industry suits young people who love challenges,' said Thomas Yuen, human resources executive director. 'We also welcome graduates who have worked for a couple of years. Their experience in the business sector will help because we need to work with a wide range of industries.'

According to Mr Lai, professionals in the insurance industry have to constantly upgrade themselves.

'It's no different from someone in a chartered accountant's position,' he said.

Candidates are required to excel academically, with good English and Chinese language skills. They should comply with company competence requirements, including cross-culture social skills, teamwork and work enthusiasm.

The preliminary selection process includes resume screening, group discussions and essay writing. Qualified candidates will go through individual interviews before the final panel interview and presentation. While applicants should be succinct in the group discussions, they are also encouraged to reveal their career aspirations during interviews.

Passion and interest are the most significant criteria during the selection process. 'We don't expect [the candidates to] know a lot about the industry before they join us,' said Mr Lai, who stressed that good leadership, communication and analytical skills are preferred.

The two- to three-year training programme features on-the-job training. Trainees will be assigned to different business functions from the chief executive's office, operating business units to sales and business development and claims services.

There will be mentoring, technical, professional and soft-skills training to equip trainees with knowledge of the industry. To complete the programme, trainees must also acquire professional qualifications such as those from the Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance.

Depending on the performances and strengths of trainees, they can graduate to positions such as marketing officers, accounting officers and project officers. Jacky Chan Chung-yin, a former MAP graduate, who has become a project manager of global and risk managed accounts, said: 'The job rotation allowed me to get exposure in [five] different departments within a short period and offered opportunities to learn about a wide range of industries. There were different clients and challenges to handle. I learned new knowledge and skills during the projects.'

He said to stand out in the selection process, candidates should have a passion for and commitment to the industry.