HONG Kong's oldest headhunting firm, Boyden International, yesterday became the first in China by opening a Shanghai office. The firm also aims to have a Beijing office by the end of the year. Boyden has been hunting out executives to spearhead multinational operations in China for about 10 years. The mainland office will work for international companies that want local Chinese executives. Boyden's Hong Kong managing director Glendon Rowell said demand was growing for highly skilled people in China. ''More and more searches are demanding a higher skill level and greater expertise - a particular type of person - as multinational companies come to tap into the tremendous growth taking place in China,'' he said. Companies increasingly want two particular types of people: the ''pioneer'' who can set up operations, sometimes from scratch, in China; and managers to oversee the business while working out strategy and growth plans. Most of Boyden's appointees have been expatriates who work in China for a limited time. But Mr Rowell said a huge talent base among executives in China was only just beginning to be tapped. ''Our database includes local Chinese executives, trained either in China or overseas, with experience of working in China. We also have Hong Kong Chinese businessmen who are fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, and executives of Chinese descent who are currently working abroad,'' he said.