THE FOCUS OF the global IT market is currently shifting to service businesses. The need for systems management, strategic outsourcing, data resource centres and system architecture is driving this change and translating into corporate growth and exciting job prospects in the IT sector. 'There are a lot of opportunities because business is growing at double-digit rates every year,' said Brenda Lam Yan, executive for human resources and learning at IBM China/Hong Kong. 'Business managers, consultants, system architects and financial managers are all in high demand.' The company plans to recruit skilled and qualified personnel in Hong Kong, many of whom may be required to relocate to mainland cities. Others who have regional responsibilities for Greater China may be stationed in Hong Kong but need to travel frequently. Ms Lam said the requirement to spend time in China was inevitable, given the expansion of IBM's service businesses. Project management experience is highly sought after, as well as the ability to deal with a customer base and a workforce that is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan. 'At senior levels you have to manage people from different countries and cultures and work closely with clients,' Ms Lam said. 'We are talking about a solutions business, not just technical support. You have to know the industry and how to transform a client's ideas into services we can offer.' She added that many Hong Kong-based project managers could handle local assignments well. However, with the rise of global resource centres they needed to get used to a different, more complex type of project. This means that potential recruits must have a strong technical background plus good interpersonal and communication skills. 'The globalisation of the industry has also made fluency in Mandarin and English particularly important. The working environment is very international and is becoming ever more so.' There is a growing need for system and solution architects able to set up multiplatform and multilocation networks which are tailor-made for customers. To match the right person to the right job, IBM has an internal programme that allows employees to apply for vacancies in other departments and regions. 'It encourages them to look for the best job within the company while increasing employee satisfaction and productivity in the long run,' Ms Lam said. Though clear differences still remained between the IT markets in Hong Kong and the mainland, these were narrowing. 'Hong Kong is more mature and at a later stage of development, with more strategic outsourcing services and packaged system-integration projects. China is still more focused on infrastructure and system architecture, though outsourcing is picking up,' Ms Lam said.