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October 16, 2010

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Professionals combine to get the best out of Changning

TO ensure there's a wealth of professionals at its disposal, the Changning District Government is harnessing a collective effort among local industries to attract, retain and ultimately get the best out of a talented workforce. Whether it be creative teams, postdoctoral bases, HR groups or individuals from abroad, Victoria Fei looks at the ways this talent pool is being developed.

When it comes to professionals, the focus is usually on individual development. However, Changning District is transforming this focus from "individual" to "collective" by encouraging high-level professionals to help build a talent pool of creative teams.

The first 10 creative teams in industries such as education, public health and information technology got a total subsidy of 1.7 million yuan (US$255,484) from the Changning government in the past two years.

So far, the 10 teams have nurtured more than 500 leading professionals in the service industry and high-tech development.

Also, with the establishment of the Shanghai Multimedia Industrial Park Postdoctoral Base in Changning, the local government has introduced 31 postdoctoral professionals to businesses, together with a total fund of 1.06 million yuan. Among the 31 post doctorates, six of them continued to do research and development in the district, helping to raise the overall strength of R&D teams.

"Serving the enterprises means serving the professionals," says Hu Hailong, an official from Changning government's human resources department. "The local government actively helps businesses to tackle the problem of professional shortage and attraction."

A Human Resources Social Club is organized regularly by the local government to provide a platform for HR directors and managers to meet and talk.

The non-profit social club was established in 2008. It now features more than 50 company members from the electronic information, modern manufacturing, real estate, pharmaceutical and medical industries, among others.

Policy consultation, lectures and on-site inspections concerning human resources issues add diversity to the club's activities.

"In most cases, HR directors face a lack of communication among peers and a lack of communication with the local government," Hu says. "That's why the social club can serve as a bridge to connect."

Until now, 16 member companies have become "innovation and practice bases for postgraduates and doctors." Meanwhile, HR managers from 11 member companies have volunteered to work at the district's peacemaking volunteers to help solve 266 community disputes.

Postdoctoral power

Lu Liuming is a postdoctoral professional who graduated from Donghua University in 2006. In his eyes, since a postdoctoral professional has strong experience and the capacity to do scientific research, they can play an important role in developing new technologies.

"We have the biggest advantage in theoretical research, which raises the level of products and provides a guide to the development of new products for our team," says Lu, who is now working at Shanghai Engineering Research Center for Broadband Technologies & Application (B-STAR), an enterprise research institution and a public technical service platform.

"My current job gives me opportunities to exchange ideas with experts in the communication industry. It really helps to build my networking.

"The experience of being a postdoctorate is of significance to my career. Every doctor has their own career target. Post doctorates with experience in business will do most good for those who'd like to do theoretical research as well as product development."

B-STAR was established in September 2004 by the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission in an aim to carry out the strategy of "Digital Shanghai" as well as promotion of broadband communication technological and industrial development.

With support from the Changning government, B-STAR takes advantage of production and research models to combine the development capability of universities, research centers and enterprises to promote the innovation of the next generation of broadband access and application technologies.

As one of the Innovation Practice Bases for Postdoctorates in Changning, there are several benefits, according to Zhou Can, human resources manager of B-STAR.

"Being a base provides us with a special channel to attract high-end professionals. It helps to raise the core competitiveness of the business and the overall quality of our staff," Zhou says.

"It is a way to relieve the pressure from human resources, to free them from fighting with other businesses to secure top talents. It also contributes to close ties among industry, academics and research."

Wu Yanhua, another postdoctoral talent from the enterprise institution, says his role is to explore cutting-edge science and technology, and seek sound research orientation for the company in the next few years.

Graduating from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2006, Wu has been involved in many state-level projects. "Some projects are combinations of theory in books and true experiences in real practice. It elevates my overall capacity in doing scientific research."

Foreign influence

Expats are another beautiful skyline of leading professionals in Changning. As the district pays a special focus on innovative teams for digital technology development and caring teams from modern service industry, the internationalized district offers foreign professionals a stage to contribute.

Greg Germain, managing director of China Design Center, Dell (China) Company Ltd Shanghai Branch, was honored as one of the top 10 leading professionals in Changning.

"The award is not only an honor to me. I'm so glad that my creative team's contribution also got recognized," Germain says. "Our staff have an education background from more than 25 universities across Asia. What makes me most proud is that half of my executive team are talents from Shanghai universities."

For the past several years, Germain has encouraged local engineers to innovate with the common purpose of meeting customers needs and create an attitude to benefit the world.

As one of Dell's largest design centers outside the United States, Germain felt proud that the team now not only designs for China, but also for the entire world, with a heart to deliver solutions that make everyone grow.

"To our staff, Changning is a great place to live and work. Our location is a transport hub with bus lines and Metro lines within easy reach. To our business partners, easy access to high-end hotels is also a plus," he says.

"We've got a Shanghai Employee Caring Team to give back to the employees. Activities involving sports, health and volunteering are provided."

Looking at the next five years, the managing director says the creative design team will be involved in more unique solutions to Chinese enterprises.

"Not confined to coastal areas like Shanghai, we seek a common prospect for China," he says.

Emery Brautigan, head of United Family Hospitals and Clinics, also one of the leading talents in Changning District, shares an internationalized yet also local vision for attracting professionals.

Currently, the hospital features more than 50 full-time expatriate physicians and dentists, as well as over 100 prominent local specialists.

The advantage of the international team is obvious, as Brautigan conceives.

"Diversity gives us more ideas and thus increased ability to be more creative in finding good solutions to healthcare challenges," he says. "More ideas and methods with which to obtain good and sometimes new and improved outcomes."

Brautigan likened it to the idea that more spices give people the ability to create new dishes, that not only increases the variety of dishes but sometimes may also produce dishes that actually taste better.

To him, HR challenges are no different from a conductor trying to form an orchestra that will play beautiful music together.

"He has to create or find the music and then identify and define the positions that will play the music and then hire and equip each musician and arrange and organize them correctly. The orchestra conductor must then give all the orchestra musicians the same music and then practice and lead them until they are all playing the same song beautifully."

With the notion that "great people attract great people" Brautigan believes that the best always want to work with the best, so the best recruiters are their staff.

"I don't manage really. I, along with the team, develop and agree upon a destination where we all want to go and then I just try to provide the team the resources, moral support and fun necessary for them to reach their destination," he says.

"The only basic requirement is that the destination will make them better professionals and improve the experience, outcome and safety of our customers."

Bearing in mind that the hospital is serving a very diverse community, Brautigan wants to provide medical service that makes the community feel that it was "their hospital."

"It's not an American hospital or a Chinese hospital or a foreign hospital," he says. "One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have staff who are from backgrounds similar to our customers so our customers can feel that we truly know and understand them."

The hospital's recognition in the community has a lot to do with the local government, which helps in many ways to provide better understanding and knowledge on laws and regulations.

It also helps educate the staff on the processes for obtaining necessary licenses and permits.

More often, the hospital promotes charity and social activities such as a Blood Drive or the 2010 World Expo Shanghai.


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