Whether inspecting furniture factories in China or supervising office fit-outs, attention to quality is vital, says MCV Asia senior project manager Mary Chow THE FIRST THING I DO WHEN I arrive at the office each morning is check my e-mail and see what needs to be done immediately. I have a number of projects going on at any point in time, so there is always something that needs attention. It could be a client's inquiry or a furniture delivery that has to be met - our furniture comes from Europe, North America and the mainland. There could be e-mail asking for quotations and dealing with these could take a while. I also have to attend meetings. These vary in nature, depending on whom they are with and what the project is about. One of our biggest clients is Britain's Barclays Bank. We deal with their office requirements throughout the region. From time to time, Barclays has to relocate offices, which involves making changes to workstations. Although most of the projects are based in Hong Kong, some require travelling to Korea, Thailand or other parts of Asia. Our clients frequently contact us because they want extra workstations or pieces of furniture. On any given day, I will be chasing new sales and clients. Our furniture is increasingly being manufactured on the mainland, so I spend about a week there every month, visiting the workshops and factories. Ten years ago, I was working as a school secretary. A friend's wife got a job with a furniture manufacturer and needed an assistant - that is how I got into this business. I gained experience over time and joined MCV Asia as a project manager when the company started about eight years ago. Now I am a customer services manager. One of the most satisfying aspects of this job is the close relationships with clients. We usually work with the same clients for years and, therefore, become quite friendly. I also like going to our clients' offices and seeing a project develop through its various stages. It gives me a sense of pride that I help put it all together - advising the client on the furniture and workstations, negotiating with the supplier, and overseeing the project from start to finish. There is no such thing as a smooth project; something always goes wrong at some point. Items can arrive in a damaged condition, or the supplier can make a mistake. Also, if not enough attention is paid to detail, errors can be made in the design or size specifications. Sometimes it is the manufacturer who makes the mistake, and you do not discover it till the work is done. There is a large element of trust in our relationship with clients. They depend on us to deliver furniture according to their requirements, and on time - otherwise they could lose business. When a problem crops up, they must know that we will deal with it quickly. Once, when I was new to the business, I had placed a large order for metal cabinets with a manufacturer on the mainland. But when the factory confirmed the order, I did not check the size carefully. My original specifications were correct, but the factory had made an error and built cabinets of the wrong size. So it was a mistake on both sides. Luckily for me, though, they agreed to correct the mistake without any financial penalty. However, you can get into trouble if you are not careful. You need to have an eye for detail and quality to succeed in this job. Clients expect 101 per cent perfection in the final product, so you have to make sure their expectations are met. It saves a lot of trouble if you figure out the problems before they do. You also need to be good at dealing with people since a lot of co-ordination with clients and suppliers is needed. Fortunately, I do not have to bargain a lot because the prices quoted by our suppliers - especially mainland manufacturers - tend to be reasonable.