Creativity counts in mall matters

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 March, 2008, 12:00am

In a city famous for its shopping malls, having to stand out in such a competitive retail market means that managers must be creative and strong. Irene So Kit-lin has these qualities.

Ms So, retail marketing and promotions general manager of Sino Estates Management, part of local property developer Sino Group, oversees the marketing of flagship shopping malls such as Olympian City, Gold Coast Shopping Mall and Citywalk.

Managing 15 staff, ranging from managers and assistant managers to senior officers and officers, Ms So described her job as challenging with multitasking roles.

Not only does she have to set objectives on how to promote the malls, but she also has to lead her team in organising events throughout the year to boost traffic in the shopping centres, in turn creating business opportunities for tenants.

'There are so many events and so we have to be as creative as possible,' she said, adding that at Olympian City, there were 800 events organised last year. 'Every weekend, public holidays and even during New Year's countdown, we are all here.'

Despite the long working hours - there are no off-days on most public holidays - she said the job gave her satisfaction and she felt fulfilled, adding that the New Year countdown was always the most joyous moment of her job.

A crucial part of her job is also about building up good relationships with the media, exploring new business opportunities for the company and establishing long-term relationships with business partners.

Starting off as a senior manager when she joined the company in 2002, Miss So was promoted to deputy general manager in early 2004, and was again promoted to general manager later that year.

'The capacity of a managerial position, in addition to my normal duties in promotions and marketing, means the need to manage my team members,' Ms So said.

'People management is as important as event management. Effective work relations with colleagues are built on trust and mutual respect.'

Ms So immigrated to Canada for 10 years and returned to Hong Kong in 1994 when she joined Wheelock Properties as project marketing manager. She then worked for the MTR Corporation as shopping centre manager. She was also event manager at the Hong Kong Jockey Club before joining Sino.

While living in Canada she was actively involved in charity work and this provided her with the opportunity to learn about the challenges of managing frontline staff.

While being fair and just to staff is essential, Ms So said that being a good middle manager meant listening to subordinates' comments and ideas.

'We need to be good listeners and take their advice, especially the junior staff. They are very young, they have a fresh take on things that I may not have,' she said.

Encouragement was the best way to motivate and recognise staff, she emphasised.

'Everyone loves to be praised and I am not short of compliments. I always make sure that I see to that if any of my staff deserves it,' she said.

'I really have fun with my team. It's a very important thing that we let them know that they are treasured at the company and I really enjoy working with my affectionate team.'

Five tips to being a successful middle manager

Good people management, communication and interaction skills

Extensive network

A good team leader

Creative and sensitive to market changes

Passionate and proactive