Award taps competence

A HONG Kong manager who has embarked on a programme that will lead to the prestigious Oxford Management Award says it has allowed him to discover the potential for higher productivity and greater efficiency.

Alleni Cheung, manager of Shun Hing Electronic Trading Company's audio department (first sales division) completed one section of the management programme and became the first of two local candidates to be certified by the University of Oxford Local Delegacy of Examinations.

Oxford offers the competence-based programme through the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC).

Mr Cheung said: 'By completing the first unit of the programme [managing operations], I learned how to develop a system to control and monitor performance. Now, I can use these skills in my future management tasks.' He followed Oxford guidelines to develop a management pattern for his work at Shun Hing, a leading supplier of consumer, office and industrial electronic products.

Mr Cheung and Diana Mak, the assistant human resources manager of Cafe de Coral Holdings, were the first to be awarded certificates for competency in one of nine areas of management.

Managing operations, for which Mr Cheung was certified, requires a candidate to demonstrate competence in maintaining and improving service and product operations.

In addition, according to the guidelines, a candidate has to 'contribute to the implementation of change in services, products and systems'.

The candidate must compile a portfolio showing his work meets Oxford criteria.

Deputy managing director David T. Y. Mong said there were long-term benefits for Shun Hing from Mr Cheung's achievement.

'There will be improvements in productivity and also efficiency. Ultimately, it will lead to profitability,' he said.

Mr Mong said the programme would help transfer good management practices to the company.

Shun Hing training and development department executive director Paul Kan said Mr Cheung was among several young, newly-appointed managers who were given the chance to show they could perform well.

'The Oxford Management Awards programme incorporates performance with development. Alleni's boss identified his priorities.

'In Alleni's capacity as administration manager, his priority was managing operations,' Mr Kan said.

Peggy Lee, the associate consultant of HKPC's quality and management consultancy division, acted as the development adviser for Mr Cheung.

'The candidate thinks for himself,' Ms Lee said.

'But, in terms of acting on the performance criteria, the development adviser has to have discussions with the candidate.

'The candidate has to provide documentary evidence to show his actions meet the Oxford management guidelines.

'After providing the evidence, he has to summarise what he does and what that particular unit means to him as a manager. It is known as an element review.' Ms Lee said the element review was a reflection of what the candidate had done in actual situations as a manager.

'The element review will be measured against the criteria. Then the development adviser has to apply a test,' Ms Lee said.

'First, we have to find out whether the evidence is valid. Second, we have to see that the evidence is authentic. We will check with the company management for authenticity.

'Then, we have to see if the project is current. Next, we have to determine whether the evidence produced is sufficient for an independent person to make an evaluation.' An independent assessment is done by a representative of the University of Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations.

By participating in the programme, Mr Cheung was able to work more methodically and within the defined parameters. 'I learned that a plan of action is necessary for a project,' Mr Cheung said.

'In the past, I would discuss it and go ahead with a project. I may even forget what was discussed.

'When you follow Oxford management guidelines, there is no room for that to happen. Under those guidelines, you have to do interim reviews and an overall review of a project.' One project he initiated to demonstrate competency in managing operations was undertaking a computer upgrade in his department. Its aim was to improve productivity.

Fifteen candidates were awarded certificates for completing different units in the programme.