ONCE A HOUSEHOLD name sets up shop in the mainland, its China business development is often phenomenal, and as the company grows, so does its demand for talent. That certainly appears to be the case for one premier multinational corporation whose brands are readily recognised in virtually every country around the world. Photography and info-imaging giant Kodak sees China as the centrepiece of its US$2.5 billion greater Asian region business, and although the company has had a research and development (R&D) presence in the mainland for several years, operations have increased dramatically in the past 12 months. 'China is our main focus now, as there are so many different initiatives here,' said Cindy High, human resources director and vice-president, greater Asia region, Kodak (China) Investment. Kodak's burgeoning business has led to the expansion of its manufacturing, marketing and sales operations and the establishment of a growing number of R&D centres, all of which have caused the number of jobs in the mainland to soar. Indeed, as far as vacancies were concerned, thousands were in the offing, Ms High said. Many of these opportunities are at Kodak's R&D centre in Shanghai, which began operations with one person at the helm in January last year. By the end of the year, about 90 people were on board, and the centre is looking to sail into 2005 with another 60 recruits. While R&D is expanding rapidly, opportunities are opening up in almost all aspects of Kodak's mainland operations. 'We are hiring for sales and marketing, and by the thousands in manufacturing,' she said. 'We are hiring in finance, human resources, purchasing. If you name a function, we are probably hiring.' Kodak's corporate culture does not differentiate between people in terms of nationality or cultural origin, which means that jobs are not reserved for Chinese locals - or for Americans, for that matter. Instead, the company aims to place the best people in the right positions. 'All our positions are open to people from Hong Kong,' Ms High said. 'We do not discriminate and ask where you are from. Your performance is what we are interested in.' So, why should Hong Kong people uproot and head to the mainland for a career with Kodak? Ms High pointed to the excitement of the explosion of business over the border, and to the attraction of working with a well-established organisation in 21st-century China. Besides, the future prospects are promising. 'We came to China pretty early and view it as a key market,' she said. 'This was a wise move, as it positioned us well for future growth.' However, she advised potential applicants to study the company's culture before knocking on its door. 'Kodak has a very strong culture and value system that includes respect for the individual, integrity and continuous learning,' she said. 'We are not like many other multinational companies.' Those who fit in at Kodak can be described as considerate and respectful, and good team players. They are professionals of the highest integrity who know when and how to be aggressive about their work, and who can also act as change agents. Ms High said recruits would discover a work culture at Kodak that emphasised overall, rather than individual, success. What can the company offer the right people? As far as training is concerned, successful applicants could find themselves involved in e-learning projects, traditional management and skills courses, or they may be sponsored to study for executive MBAs. 'We focus on leadership training, in particular, and have identified that as an opportunity.' The company also runs performance-based cultural workshops, which help staff to follow the Kodak values and prepare them for possible promotions and transfers. 'We measure our leaders on how many of these cross-boundary moves they undergo, and on the quality of those moves,' Ms High said. 'Most developmental experiences for leaders involve job changes or working for someone who is a great role model.' Much attention is given, therefore, to arranging transfers and setting up assignments that provide learning opportunities. Ms High admitted that shifting one's career over the border could be something of a challenge. 'I think some of these moves might be a little risky for a Hong Kong person,' she said. 'Each person's decision on what they do is very personal. But take some risk. Life is not very long, as we know, so make sure it is interesting and fun.' knowing your role There are aggressive recruitment plans for all major functions. It is important for applicants to understand a company's culture. There is emphasis on teamwork and achieving overall success. A focus on leadership development is key. Transfers and cross-boundary moves are par for the course. Role models play a strong part in career development.