Ambitious mainland expansion plan creates demand for managerial talent from Hong Kong SWISS-SWEDISH engineering giant ABB will add 5,000 employees to its pool of 7,000 staff in China by 2008 in an ambitious plan of further investment and expansion. Among the wide range of positions available, Hongkongers are expected to fill various managerial positions, according to ABB. With its China headquarters in Beijing, ABB has 23 branches and sales offices, and 27 joint-venture and wholly owned companies in the country. The company (formerly Asea Brown Boveri) provides power and automation technologies to a range of customers in China, from enterprises in the petrochemical, automotive and steel manufacturing industries to state and provincial infrastructure projects. ABB has invested more than US$600 million in China, and plans to put in at least another $100 million during the next five years. The aggressive expansion plan, which targets doubling China sales, will create a huge demand for talent. 'Our target is for ABB in China to grow to around US$4 billion in sales by 2008, overtaking Germany as ABB's second-largest market. To do that, we plan to hire at least an additional 5,000 people in China - bringing our total to around 12,000 employees,' ABB chairman and chief executive Jurgen Dormann said. The investment will be used to set up new product lines and factories. ABB head of human resources in China Han Yu said the company would also open a new research and development centre in Beijing, employing about 50 to 100 researchers and scientists. He said about 50 per cent of the new positions would be filled by engineers and the rest by all types of staff from factory workers to accountants and human resources practitioners. ABB believes Hongkongers will be able to contribute experience and expertise in managerial positions. 'Hong Kong candidates are usually excellent managers with a breadth of experience. In the future we see openings for those with a positive attitude and strong leadership skills,' Mr Han said. In addition to hiring new staff from Hong Kong, ABB will transfer employees working here to China. 'ABB has 200 employees in Hong Kong. We've recently relocated about 30 Hong Kong employees to the mainland. Typically, these employees are managers - for example in controlling, sales and engineering. 'Our employees from Hong Kong usually bring a great deal of experience to the table - from high levels of professionalism to good skills and leadership qualities. This is a great advantage for potential employees from Hong Kong,' Mr Han said. An ideal managerial candidate for ABB needed to be 'respectful, determined and responsible', he said. 'Increasingly, soft skills are very important.' For Hong Kong staff to be successful in China they must understand the mainland's culture. 'Hong Kong candidates should be open to new ideas and ways of working, while getting to know the local culture. [They should be able] to work within the culture rather than around it.' Mr Han said the company offered good compensation packages to Hong Kong talent. 'ABB offers good remuneration packages and specific relocation terms for Hong Kong employees. The company also has a strong culture of training.' ABB China's clients include petrochemical companies Sinopec and PetroChina, steelmaker Baosteel in Shanghai and carmaker Shanghai General Motors. It has also been involved in state-run projects including the construction of a high-voltage direct current transmission link between the Yangtze River and Jiangsu province. planning ahead Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB plans to hire 5,000 employees by 2008 to expand its China team of 7,000 staff. This is a result of its plan to invest another US$100 million in the mainland, on top of its current $600 million investment. A wide range of talent is in demand, including a large number of engineers and other professionals. About 50 to 100 researchers and scientists will also be employed at a new R&D centre in Beijing. Hongkongers will make good candidates for managerial positions, according to ABB, which recently moved 30 of its Hong Kong employees to the mainland.