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Moving into Management: Quantity Surveying

Working in Hong Kong as a Quantity Surveyor can provide an excellent opportunity to develop your career and progress up the ladder. Let’s look at what it takes to move into a management role and what career moves you should make to ensure you achieve that Commercial Manager role you always dreamed of!

Hong Kong is truly buoyant market for Commercial/Quantity Surveyors professional looking to move up the career ladder. With huge MTR extensions and numerous large scale road, bridge and commercial developments there is a significant range of diverse projects from which a young Quantity Surveying professional can choose from. Whether you want ply your trade in the large Build projects of Casinos and Hotels in Macau or specialize your skills in heavy civil engineering works such as the Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLKL) in Hong Kong you have a great opportunity to develop your career as a top Commercial Manager.

It’s clear that Hong Kong is a great place to develop your career and it can certainly provide the projects and experience needed on your CV to establish yourself in a top commercial management role, so what other things should you be considering when thinking about your future career development.......

Contractor, Consultancy or Client!?
One of the key considerations when thinking about your future career is choosing what sort of construction organisation you want to work for. These can broadly be summarised into the 3 categories of Contractors, Consultancies and Client organizations. It’s important to understand the benefits of working for each.

Contracting is big business in Hong Kong and all the major international players are well established in the Market. Working for a Contractor you will gain excellent project specific experience – this usually consists of a site based role working on a large project. The advantage of this is that you will gain firsthand experience of the skills necessary to manage large scale projects and work within a large team, allowing you to develop the traits necessary to move in a management role.

The number of specialist construction consultancies operating in Hong Kong has significantly increased over the last few years, and as MTR projects begin to peak both contractors and clients turn to these consultancies to provide specialist construction services. Working for a consultancy you will be exposed to multiple aspects of Commercial Management/Quantity Surveying ranging from Claims/Dispute resolution to post contract Quantity Surveying services for main contractors. You will also be exposed to various types of projects both civil and build – this will give you a well rounded experience allowing you move into a management role handling a diverse portfolio of projects.

Working for a client side organisation in Hong Kong can provide great long term career prospects. One of the biggest clients in Hong Kong is MTRC – with its major rail extension construction projects due to run past 2020 there will be plenty of job opportunities for young professionals wanting to develop a career with a reputable rail client. Working for a client organization you will generally be limited to a certain type of project whether it be rail, roads, residential or casinos. This will allow you to develop a very specailised skill set which will help make the transition into management roles that much easier.

Choosing the Right Project
If you’re wanting to progress up the ladder it’s important to understand what employers will look for in a CV when recruiting for a management role. One of the key factors in construction is your previous project experience. Employers will look for candidates with good project experience – this means large scale/high value HK$ billion construction works. Hong Kong is littered with such projects: MTR Shatin to Central Link extension, Hong Kong – Macau Bridge, Tuen Mun – Chek Lap Kok Link (TM-CLKL).

They will also be looking for someone who has shown the ability to work on a project from inception to completion, so when choosing your next job be careful to consider the project scale and your ability to see the project through for the duration.

Stable Employment
In order to build yourself a successful career in a top commercial management position you need to show yourself as dependable and reliable. Fundamental to this is having a stable work history. This means having a work history which shows steady progression with different companies but stays away from job hopping too much. 3 – 5 years with one company is sufficient enough time to prove your loyalty and ability in completing a project, anything less than this can come across as job hopping and can seriously affect your ability to compete for management roles. This is shown by top Commercial Manager level employees who will typically have on average 5 employers over a 25 year period.

Think Global
To help achieve the goal of securing that top management role it is important to think global. Ambitious career minded people must be mobile, willing to relocate, and comfortable with travel. Overseas assignments are often necessary steps need to move to the next rung on the career ladder. The construction industry is a global market and the next step in your career towards management may well involve a move abroad. A good example of this would be Macau, only a short distance from Hong Kong but a completely different construction landscape. Very much dominated by large casino and hotel developments Macau can provide some exciting mega scale developments to work on. People in senior management roles often have a background on International projects with periods of overseas employment. So whether it’s a short project assignment or a long term role, you should be thinking global to help achieve your long terms goals.

How Can Maxim Help?
Promotions, in most situations, are basically competitive, and only you are responsible for your success through hard work, initiative, motivation, and confidence. However choosing the right job move at the right time with the right employer and on the right project can significantly increase your chances of making the move into Management, and this is where we can help!

So whether you’re a young Quantity Surveyor looking to move into a middle management role or an experienced Commercial Manager looking to make your next job move please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss the job opportunities which can move your career on to the next level.

Tim Cole
Maxim Recruitment
Hong Kong & Asia Region 

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