More than 95% of the full-time cohort from intake 2018 are international students and most of us are hoping to land a career in Hong Kong or China after graduation. For the Non-Chinese speaking students, one of the top questions on their minds is: how can one launch a successful career in Hong Kong/China for Non-Chinese Speaker? MOSAIC hosted an interactive yet informative roundtable session in November to provide some insight to that question. We invited Harsh Mody from intake 2017, currently working in Hong Kong and John Timms, an Executive Director at a Global Investment Bank to share their insights and experiences on how to secure and excel in a career in Hong Kong without being able to communicate in Chinese.
Q: How to differentiate yourself in the Hong Kong job market?
A: You should focus on the part that you can perform well rather than the language limitations and highlight the different set of expertise you can bring to the company.
Q: Is MNC the only choice for Non-Chinese speakers?
A: There are Chinese companies like Wanda and Alibaba, which are aggressively expanding their overseas operations, and they are seeking international talents. One of my MBA classmates from intake 2017 who is an Indian national worked for a Chinese Conglomerate in M&A division, helping the firm to negotiate the deals outflow from China to India.
Q: How does a Non-Chinese speaker make the most of his/her limited time in the MBA program to launch a successful career in Hong Kong or probably even in China?
A: Focus on learning and development, although learning mandarin is often recommended to foreigners especially when they want to land a job in HK/china, but you still need to be realistic about yourself because this is a multi- year project and you need to know how it is going to fit in your life. Apart from learning mandarin there are other things you can learn and develop as well, you might forget most of it, but it is the learning process which trained your brain and your way of thinking, that can add great value to your career afterwards.
Do not comprise on your goal! Even if you cannot land your dream job right after graduation, still do something that you have passion for, it will set you on the right path for your next role.
Q: How can we enter the “Chinese society” in the office without speaking Chinese? If something important are decided in Chinese behind you, what do you do? What kind of jobs definitely needs us to speak Chinese language?
A: During my MBA internship I worked for a financial consulting firm in Shanghai where most of the office speaks Chinese only. My strategy is to find other part that I can add value, and tried to develop my original role into something else – I have identified a new client segment of foreign institutional clients (Private Equity mainly) and produced a strategic roadmap on expansion into this sector, and they offered me a full-time position upon graduation
Q: What are the challenges with regards to landing a consulting role/front-end role with companies in Hong Kong? How does one differentiate oneself as a Non-Chinese on the CV and during interviews?
A: Do your research on the hiring manager and the team, customize your application, read annual report (if applicable), these things matter and will make you stand out - you will be surprised how little people usually prepare for their interviews!
Q: How do you communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English well?
A: Be aware of the cultural differences and respect others’ cultures.
Q: For jobs in Hong Kong which explicitly state that Mandarin is not a requirement, does there still exist an underlying bias against non-Mandarin speakers? If so, how do we tackle such a bias?
A: If it is due to the job nature, i.e. you will need to speak to Chinese corporates or do research in the Chinese market, then it is not a bias. But I suggest even for the Chinese speaking only role, if you are interested in the firm/industry, still apply for it, because you never know what might lead you to by applying for this role, for example, the recruiter or hiring manager might find your profile suits other roles in the firms that does not require Chinese.
Content contributors ：Aina Zeng & Maggie Geng
Event photographer：Lucy Wang