Executive programme teaches rising stars management skills CLP Group has begun recruiting a second batch of professionals to its executive programme, set up in January last year to expand its management pool. The CLP executive programme (CEP) was initiated in response to the impending retirement of many of the company's senior managers and to global challenges on the horizon. 'It was important for us to fill the gap now and do something for the future,' said Richard Lancaster, the commercial director of CLP Power Hong Kong, who supported the programme by acting as one of the mentors. The group's human resources director, Tammy Wong, said the programme specifically targeted 'professionals with some experience'. Candidates are also expected to have a master's degree from a prominent university. Ms Wong said CLP Group expected a lot from successful candidates almost as soon as they joined the company. 'In fact, from day one we expect them to contribute to the objectives or goals of the particular team they are assigned to.' Ms Wong said the response to the programme had been overwhelming. During the January 2002 recruitment drive, nearly 900 candidates applied and about 100 were shortlisted, she said. CLP Group then took the innovative approach of asking shortlisted applicants to submit a 15-minute video introducing themselves. 'It was a good way to get to know candidates who may have been right across the world,' said Ms Wong. Candidates underwent a last assessment and attended an informal luncheon with senior management before the final selection was made. 'The informal lunch was a good opportunity to see people's ability to interact socially and communicate,' said Mr Lancaster. 'Before we brought people into the programme, we had already made sure they had a good foundation in communication skills.' Senior executives mentor successful candidates, or CEP members, as they are then called, during a two-year programme involving formal training, team projects and job postings in different sections of CLP Group. 'The design of the programme is one job posting a year, with added flexibility,' said Ms Wong. 'Upon satisfactory completion of the programme, the CEP member is considered for appointments to senior managerial or executive positions.' CEP member Angela Chang said the programme was giving her an in-depth understanding of CLP Group's business. Ms Chang is in her second posting, as a manager for financial projects, under the mentorship of Mr Lancaster. 'My first posting gave me a lot of exposure to the local business, and also in change management and leadership,' she said. 'My second posting, which is more financial, gives me a bird's-eye view of the business. So I think I have definitely learned a lot.' The programme has also given Ms Chang the chance to interact and exchange ideas with senior management. 'I have had a lot of senior management exposure, and talking to Richard [Lancaster] and other senior managers, I think I have had the opportunity to learn from them,' she said. Mr Lancaster said he, too, had learned a great deal in the course of mentoring CEP members. 'We have a lot of very talented and bright people with a lot of potential who come in and look at things differently,' he said. A 'surprising benefit' was the way discussions with CEP members had resulted in new ways of doing things, he said. Ms Chang advised newcomers to the programme 'not to be afraid to speak up'. 'Although CLP is a stable business, we are always looking for change and improvement, and that is why we have this programme to seek new blood,' she said.