CORPORATE TITAN ABB sees an increasingly bright outlook for the mainland's power and automation sector in the next few years as China continues to upgrade essential parts of the nation's infrastructure. Consequently, the company is confident of achieving significant business expansion and has plans for a major hiring initiative. As a leader in technology, ABB's prime focus will be to find motivated engineers keen to explore opportunities on the mainland, although a smattering of accountants and human resources specialists will also be required to support overall corporate growth. The firm has about 103,000 employees in more than 100 countries, from its corporate headquarters in Switzerland to its reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. All new employees must meet high expectations and be aligned with the company's mission of developing power technology that enables customers to improve productivity and performance, while minimising any negative impact on the environment. Han Yu, chief of human resources for ABB China, forecasts a sizeable increase in the number of mainland-based positions. 'We plan to hire 4,000 employees in China in the run-up to 2008 to help support our growing business,' he said. About half of the new recruits will be for key engineering posts. The rest will be a combination of accountants, personnel specialists and skilled technicians or production managers required to oversee factory operations and on-site installation. The dramatic increase in hiring is a result of ABB's plan to double sales in China from US$2billion at the end of last year to about US$4billion by 2008. The company has 8,000 employees engaged in mainland projects and started its recruitment push last year. Gary Steel, an executive committee member responsible for human resources, said: 'One of ABB's key strengths is our highly talented and skilled workforce throughout the world. Reaching our full potential will drive the further development of the company.' Mr Han said the company's expansion in China would depend on having people who understand the country's unique culture and market. 'If you consider we plan to invest another US$100million by 2008 on top of the US$600million we've already invested in China, you can anticipate there will be new businesses to staff,' he said. ABB recently announced new ventures in Xiamen and Xian, and the expansion of several factories in Beijing and Shanghai. 'In addition, we have just opened a research and development centre in Beijing, which will employ 50 to 100 researchers and scientists,' Mr Han said. As part of its global reorganisation efforts, ABB recently relocated about 30 employees from Hong Kong to China. Those involved were mostly managers specialising in control systems, sales and marketing, and engineering. What they had in common was an interest in transferring, a high level of education and the ability to manage an international business. Though mainlanders will take many of the newly created positions, Mr Han said it was recognised that candidates from Hong Kong could bring a great deal of experience to the table. In particular, they were known for their high level of professionalism, good communication skills and leadership qualities. 'This is a great advantage for Hong Kong people,' he said, while also noting the importance of being able to 'work within the culture rather than around it'. Mr Han said becoming fully familiar with the particular needs and cultural sensitivities of mainland employees only happened through being 'respectful, determined and responsible'. ABB prides itself on offering its staff good opportunities and nurturing values which encourage personal, professional and corporate responsibility. The company looks for employees who show respect for the views and needs of others, and who exhibit a shared determination to win. They should also demonstrate technological leadership, a pioneering spirit, and the ability to 'be at home' anywhere the firm operates in the world. In-house and external training programmes are among the benefits on offer for employees at all levels. 'For example, we offer many overseas assignments and an extensive leadership development programme within China,' Mr Han said. Salary levels for all positions are competitive. With China's gross domestic product expected to quadruple by 2020, the outlook for the power and automation sector is bright. It will be vital to develop the nation's infrastructure and increase the capacity to generate power. 'ABB plans to be there to provide the best technology, and with the talent in place to do what is required,' Mr Han said. In a nutshell The development of the mainland's power and automation means ABB will recruit 4,000 extra employees in China by 2008. Many positions will be for engineers, but accountants, HR specialists and technicians will also be needed. Hong Kong applicants are recognised as professional and having good communication and leadership skills. New recruits must be able to provide technological leadership and adapt to local sensibilities. The company's values emphasise personal, professional and corporate responsibility.