Specialisation and multilingual skills in demand

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 January, 2010, 12:00am

An international perspective and competency in specialised areas are the two top qualities that give young job seekers a competitive edge in today's increasingly globalised economy, human resources professionals say.

Aruna Alimchandani, a director of sales and marketing, human resources and legal at Hudson Global Resources (Hong Kong), says most multinational corporations (MNCs) look for candidates who have work experience gained in an MNC environment. 'For instance, MNCs based in Hong Kong need executives who have an international perspective.'

Many employees working for MNCs need to communicate effectively with colleagues in overseas offices in addition to stakeholders such as vendors and customers from all over the world. 'There is a great deal of influence from the head offices, which can be located in the United States or Europe, on the operations of the MNC branch offices in Hong Kong in diverse areas, such as operational systems and employee training programmes,' she adds.

In a globalised economy, MNCs have to maximise the diversity of their workforce. 'When people are working across various markets, it is not like 'one size fits all'. A global perspective is important, as is the international working experience,' Alimchandani says. 'Individuals aspiring to work for MNCs have to be culturally sensitive. The way an Asian executive handles a situation can be different from the methods that an American or European may employ to handle the same situation.'

Hudson Global Resources (Hong Kong) is a subsidiary of Hudson, a leading provider of permanent recruitment, contract professionals and talent management solutions worldwide.

A combination of competence in a particular area and bilingual or multilingual skills with an international perspective help enhance the competitive advantage of individuals who are keen to develop their careers at an MNC. 'This is especially so for individuals who work for MNCs that have established their regional hubs or head offices in Hong Kong,' she says. 'Chinese language skills are the added advantage as many multinational companies focus on China, which is driving massive growth.'

Continued education is important for professionals who aim to sharpen their globalised thinking in the workplace. MNCs provide formalised training opportunities for different levels of staff in addition to on-the-job training, she says.

When individuals work in an MNC, there are lots of opportunities to interact with colleagues from other offices. This helps individuals deepen their understanding of how those from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds work and the challenges they face, she adds.

'It will help them obtain first-hand knowledge of the latest developments in other markets. Other ways to cultivate a global perspective include active participation in activities organised by international industry bodies and gaining industry knowledge from the media. Basically, individuals should keep themselves abreast of international market trends.'

To what extent a globalised perspective helps professionals advance their career in MNCs depends on individual situations.

'Whether an individual will take up the opportunity to move across countries depends on his motivation, interest or ability. Some people may not be able to do that because of family commitments. But if they are able to relocate, it is important for them to work across different markets. Sometimes when an individual has experience in one single market, it might limit his global perspective. MNCs can offer cross-market working opportunities to employees who are mobile and motivated to work in different geographical locations.'