WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY IS constantly testing the limit and wireless communications applications may offer almost unlimited career prospects for technology R&D in Hong Kong. The universities are realising this and the top universities now have radio frequency laboratories where students can begin work on projects. 'We believe we can attract good people because we offer a chance to work at the forefront of innovation with world-class facilities and first rate colleagues near the world's fastest-growing market and producer of technology,' said Chih-Lin I, vice-president and R&D director, communications technologies group, Astri. Wavecom also offered the advantage of 'working in advanced Edge communications technology and improving their skills by working with engineers based overseas', said Didier Dutronc, Wavecom group vice-president and head of Asia-Pacific region. At Astri, Wavecom or any of the firms in the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, an engineer starting out may work in a specialist R&D team. Good technical skills are essential to get started, but strong English and Putonghua-language skills, as well as people skills, can help the engineer move up the career ladder. This is because R&D management relies on people, and China is playing an increasingly important role. 'Our engineers need to demonstrate teamwork in all directions, both with superiors and subordinates as well as horizontally with outside organisations,' said Dr I. 'As Wavecom's team expands, we will need 15 per cent of our people to have management skills,' said Mr Dutronc. At Astri and Wavecom, if an engineer shows leadership capabilities, after three years he or she may become team leader. Dr I believes that if an engineer is entrepreneurially inclined, he or she may have acquired sufficient know-how to set up their own company. Beyond that, after 10 years with Astri, the manager may advance to be a director or a vice-president, and will be perceived as a leader in technology development.