CHINA'S SOFTWARE industry is experiencing phenomenal growth, with export values expected to reach US$12.5 billion by 2010, more than triple the US$3.59 billion achieved in 2005, according to the Ministry of Information Industry. In large part, this rapid growth is due to the efforts of the authorities to create conditions for software enterprises to develop in line with international trends. The Ministry of Commerce, for example, has encouraged multinationals to set up high-level research and development centres in China, and domestic enterprises have been given the necessary support to form new joint ventures and boost co-operation with foreign investors. One sign of success is the high number of jobs available in the business divisions of Microsoft in the Greater China region. 'We are recruiting more people than ever,' said Leslie Chu Wui-wing, country manager for Microsoft's Online Services Group in Hong Kong. 'We had about 20 people 18 months ago and now have over 100 employees working in the main cities.' Openings in China are posted on the company's website and people from all over the world can apply, provided they match the basic job requirements. At present, middle and senior managers are most in demand, especially those with strong software development skills. The company is seeking program managers and IT site managers with regional responsibilities, as well as candidates for more general management roles in technical support services, or sales and marketing. On the R&D side, the company established an advanced technology centre, or ATC, in Beijing in 2003. The plan is now to attract more software developers capable of coming up with mobile products, internet-based communications, server products and better user interfaces for the global market. To do this, the ATC is collaborating with universities and mainland companies on everything from training modules to software development processes. Their priority is to identify individuals with excellent design skills who can focus on high-performance computing, web services and systems management. A second research centre recently established in Shanghai is building its own team of software engineers. Potential applicants should have a strong technical background, industry experience and proven leadership skills. It is also vital to be a good communicator able to collaborate with colleagues in other parts of the world. 'Sometimes it's tough to find the right talent to fit our profile and passion,' said Mr Chu. 'The mainland's corporate culture is different from Hong Kong's.' He said anyone moving to the mainland from Hong Kong or elsewhere should be adaptable and have the necessary language skills. However, those who joined the team would receive training and have the chance to travel to international meetings each year. 'Working in China helps because it expands the career path,' Mr Chu said. 'Hong Kong people need to realise that China provides major opportunities. They should not just look at the pay package, but the opportunity to gain experience.' He said more high-calibre individuals were needed, but people with a technical background also required good business sense and the ability to work closely with corporate partners and customers. The remuneration packages on offer depend on qualifications and experience. However, the general scales take into account that the cost of living is usually lower on the mainland than in Hong Kong. Microsoft first set up a representative office in Beijing in 1992 and now has branch offices in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Nanjing, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Fuzhou and Xian. 'In China, there is a huge opportunity because the market is starting to develop and there is a demand for people from overseas to fill in the blanks and train local staff,' Mr Chu said. 'It is a huge market with over 100 million users of software, broadband and subscription services already.' Making the grade Microsoft is looking for people with technical or related qualifications, strong business acumen, team spirit and problem-solving skills. Fluency in Putonghua is a must as well as the ability to fit into the mainland work environment. There are openings for senior and middle managers with opportunities to be part of an extended leadership team to build up subsidiaries. Opportunities are available to work on a variety of projects involving new concepts and emerging technologies. Positions involve travel and co-operating with overseas teams.