MAINLAND companies are offering career opportunities for Hong Kong talent with international experience as the race with foreign-investment companies to turn global hots up. Konka Group, one of the mainland's large TV manufacturers, is hiring senior management and strategic marketing staff, as well as more than 400 engineers, as the company strives to achieve international standards. This means tremendous opportunities for Hong Kong talent, whose exposure to western business practices is valued. But Konka human resources consultant Alain Tremblay warned that Hongkongers would have to adjust to a much lower wage and to a traditional mainland work environment. 'We have a lot of openings because the company is growing rapidly. The sheer amount of growth creates a lot of positions. Also, opening up new markets and developing new products adds to our needs,' he said, adding that the company was also recruiting abroad in order to become international. Mr Tremblay said while Chinese companies, including Konka, had been serving more as manufacturing centres than product development bases, China was keen to move forward. 'Konka manufactures TV sets; that is their forte. [The situation is] not unlike Japanese firms 30 years ago or Korean firms maybe 10 to 15 years ago. You've got to go beyond that,' he said. 'The challenge to become a global player is, basically, I think, a marketing challenge, and a technical challenge. You've got to have world-class product, but you have to brand that.' Mr Tremblay said Chinese companies, in general, and Konka, in particular, had to follow that path. 'They know what needs to be done, but it's very demanding, yet very interesting.' Chinese talent from around the world, including Hong Kong, is crucial to meeting this challenge. '[The] best source for candidates for Chinese companies are what they call hua qiao, the overseas Chinese. There's a fair amount [of such talent] from Hong Kong, a lot in Singapore, Taiwan, as well as America.' The three main areas that require international talent are senior management, marketing and technology, according to Mr Tremblay, who is responsible for international recruitment at Konka Group. 'Most of our senior jobs require exposure to multinational companies,' he said. Because of Hong Kong's more developed marketing function, talent here is in demand, especially those with experience in multinational corporations. 'When you talk about branding, [Hong Kong] is probably the best consumer product market in the world, maybe [only] second to Japan. So, in terms of marketing, you'll have a lot of expertise in Hong Kong. 'Someone in marketing would have worked for P&G or the Nike Corporation,' Mr Tremblay said. In terms of technology, Konka is gearing up its research and development functions in fields such as telecommunications, and requires more talent in this area. 'The company decided to extend its research centre in Shenzhen to support development of new products, [which means] it needs some 400 engineers in specialised areas in telecommunications and multimedia applications.' Mr Tremblay said field application engineers who bridged between sales and development from Hong Kong were also in demand. Compensation, however, might be an issue. Mr Tremblay said Konka's salary level in the mainland was 10 times lower than that in the United States and about five times lower than in Hong Kong. 'Shenzhen's salary level is pretty high in Chinese standards, [but] Konka's salary practice is a bit behind Shenzhen. Foreign companies ... pay a lot. Konka is still between being a Chinese government-owned company and those companies, so the gap is huge.' Another challenge is culture. While Konka intends to turn global, its staff has been a little reluctant to adopt new practices. 'They are at the stage where their mind knows they need to go this way,' Mr Tremblay said. 'We have a super leader, our CEO is a very modern guy...he is pushing, but his organisation is moving a bit slowly.' Mr Tremblay said Konka lagged behind some Chinese companies in terms of development, and only certain parts of the company were being reformed at present. 'I've seen some Chinese companies ... their development is a bit ahead of us. They are now in a more sophisticated [stage]; the financial planning, human resources, the general functions,' he said, adding that great effort was being made to catch up. WHAT'S ON OFFER Mainland TV manufacturer Konka Group is hiring senior management, marketing, as well as more than 400 engineering staff. This is part of the company's effort to become a global player, by both developing its brand name and enhancing product development. Overseas Chinese, including those from Hong Kong, with exposure to western business practices are in high demand. But lower salaries are on offer and cultural adjustment required, as the company is just beginning to adopt global business standards.