Broadband provider aims for top spot in busy marketplace

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 July, 2009, 12:00am

Bronze Award winner Hong Kong Broadband Network has been encouraging its workforce to become more competitive.

The telecommunication sector in Hong Kong is mature, therefore it is not easy to increase market share.

The parent company of HKBN, City Telecom (HK) (CTI), was founded as an international direct dialing service provider and has diversified into internet broadband service by establishing HKBN in 1999.

HKBN's 10-year goal was to be the largest local broadband service provider.

Last year, it was the fastest-growing broadband service provider in Hong Kong.

Its customer retention rate is above 90 per cent while the monthly rate of service termination is less than 1 per cent. The company has also raised its average revenue per user, according to Lai Ni Quiaque, chief financial officer and head of staff engagement at CTI.

'Our customers actually pay a premium to switch from our competitors to us because we offer better value.

'Our standard service for both downstream and upstream is 100 megabytes compared with the six megabytes offered by our competitors,' Mr Lai said.

'Underlying our transition to become the best broadband service provider is our people. 'HKBN is a great place for people who are passionate about winning.'

HKBN operates a mini-CEO management structure by giving flexibility to some senior managers who have been promoted to mini-CEOs.

'This is a decentralisation system empowering mini-CEOs, who directly deal with the customers, making their own decisions.

'Mini-CEOs are responsible for the profits and loss, and balance sheets of their divisions. They are tasked with building relationships with their subordinates and fostering the same with their customers,' Mr Lai said.

Under this structure, where compensation is performance-based and the downside of the control measures is limited, mini-CEOs are motivated to deliver entrepreneurial innovations.

To help its employees to develop their careers, HKBN has implemented its CXO programme.

The X stands for etcetera and the programme title means that employees can aspire to become a CEO, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer.

The programme has a well-defined path of career progression for every position, from executive to officer to manager and director.

'We have long-term game plans for our executives,' Mr Lai said.

The career progression of individual employees is evaluated based on how much they have embraced the company's core purposes and values.

'It also takes into account the effectiveness of their execution and delivery of the company's strategic objectives. We will also look at factors such as how they have collaborated with colleagues and if they show any leadership qualities.

'We cultivate a competitive working environment and encourage staff to contribute ideas and benchmark with each other. Every year the bottom 5 per cent of our workforce will be laid off,' he said.

Apart from career development plans tailored to individual employees, HKBN offers a programme called 'Next Station: University' which aims to equip those employees who are secondary school graduates with more advanced professional education.

Employees who successfully complete the programme will earn a bachelor's degree in business management. The programme is divided into four stages. It begins with a two-month certificate course on management studies, which is followed by diploma and higher diploma programmes. Students of these courses will receive degrees awarded by the University of Wales.

Mr Lai said the programme had been customised to cater to the needs of the company's employees based in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. All courses are conducted in Cantonese by qualified lecturers from the Hong Kong Management Association, and classes for certificate to higher diploma stages are conducted in the training centre inside HKBN's premises. Morning and evening classes are offered to fit the working shifts of employees.

'Our business is a mosaic of global best practices,' Mr Lai said. ' Our benchmark is the 'best in class'.

'For instance, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Group's Premier Banking is our benchmark for telesales relationships. For on-site services, we use Disneyland.'