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HK IT graduate's CIO dream

Carol Ko | May 15, 2009
Torn between taking up accounting firm's job offer and setting up own IT business

(Third from left) Tim Xian Jiawen, graduate of information engineering, 2009, said he wished to explore different business units' functions more from the management perspective.

HONG KONG, 15 MAY 2009   Information engineering graduate Tim Xian Jiawen, 23, is torn between accepting a job offer at an accounting firm, or teaming up with three other partners to run his own IT business.

It's my dream to become the CIO of an IT company one day, he said. He is a graduate of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), which conducted an  employment survey recently.

Most of the 2,567 graduates who responded to the survey (about 96 per cent) were either employed or pursuing further studies.

About 80.4 per cent were employed and 15.1 per cent were pursuing further studies, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted by the career planning & development centre of the Office of Student Affairs, CUHK from November to December 2008 through questionnaires and telephone interviews. The findings covered full-time first-degree graduates of 2008 and medical degree graduates of 2007.

The graduates are receiving an average monthly salary of HK$17,898 (US$2,309), representing a 4.5 per cent increase over the previous year. Ninety-two per cent of respondents were given their first job offers by the end of September 2008. The figure is similar to that of 2007 for the same period.

Most graduates joined the commerce and industry sector (69.1 per cent), followed by social and public organisations (14.5 per cent), education (13.2 per cent) and government (3.2 per cent).

The top seven career fields engaged by Chinese University graduates were: accounting/auditing (11.5 per cent), banking/finance (9.7 per cent), medical and health services (9.6 per cent), computer engineering/information technology (9.3 per cent), teaching (9.3 per cent), administration/ management (7.4 per cent) and sales/marketing (6.2 per cent).

Tough career decision

Born and raised in Shenzhen, China, Xian came to Hong Kong in 2004 and received his tertiary education at the Chinese University.

As part of his four-year information engineering degree, Xian took up a one-year internship programme at a US-based investment bank as an application developer in Hong Kong.

I was involved in creating the bank's products. My boss used to identify all possible threats and brought us to discussions to seek the best solutions to mitigate threats. He would then propose the solutions to the senior management.

During his job hunting period, Xian sent out 20 job applications, primarily to banks and IT companies in Hong Kong, and so far received one job offer to work as an audit consultant at a global accounting firm, which pays him a monthly salary of between HK$10,000 (US$1,290) and HK$15,000 (US$1,935).

At present, however, Xian has the options of accepting the job offer or teaming up with three other partners to run his own IT business, which operates with 200 staff in mainland China.

The business would largely involve providing financial database and brokerage systems similar to Bloomberg's, and high-frequency stock market data to the Chinese and Hong Kong markets.

Technology-wise, Xian said he is confident and is well-equipped to meet the needs that his future job requires.

Business acumen

As for the much-sought-after business acumen by CIOs, Xian admitted that he still did not have a full grasp of the various enterprise operations, such as how different departments work together, and what the functions of individual business units are. I still can't tell right away which department is making profit, and which isn't. In the near future, however, I'd like to explore all of them [business functions and operations of different departments] more from the management perspective, he said.

I'll definitely consider obtaining professional IT certifications, said Xian. I can think of a few certifications I'd like to obtain. But first, I'd like to get certified in project management, as I can see a huge demand in this area. The next certification I hope to get would be about security, because if I started my own business, this would be my key area of concern.

The young IT graduate said he regarded Apple's CEO Steve Jobs as his role model: I admire him the most because he is a source of innovation. He can really look into the future and create future needs, and one very good example of this is the invention of the iPod.


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