ISG's Hong Kong leader on focusing in talent to fuel business growth

29 April 2019

190429_ISG’s Hong Kong leader on focusing in talent to fuel business growth _feature image

In an exclusive interview with Classified Post, ISG’s managing director of North Asia, Tim Threlkeld, provided insight on ISG’s HR strategies that help the business stay ahead of the competition and drive business growth, where talent scarcity in the construction landscape remains a challenge.

Featured as a ‘Power Profile’ coverage of the recruitment publication for South China Morning Post, Tim shared that ISG’s HR strategies are greatly focused on talent development, which have proven to be fundamental in achieving business competitiveness and success in the region.

Heading ISG’s North Asia business division in Hong Kong, Tim explained that the business relies on referrals, recommendations and repeat business – and that it is key to create a culture where employees are trained and encouraged to be very customer-focused. Tracking and capturing the team’s performance with customers have strengthened client relationships, which evidently saw a positive impact on sales and bottom line.

“We study our performance with customers and make sure they have the opportunity to share what they feel. It is amazing the pride people take in the delivery of a project when they are held accountable and expected to raise the bar,” Tim commented.

Last year, ISG announced a record-breaking performance and the company’s Hong Kong business published headline figures of HK$787 million, with a target to exceed HK$800 million this year. The goal, Tim said, is to achieve at least 60 percent of repeat business from returning customers.

Tim shared that it is also fundamental to have a comprehensive talent and development programme that focuses in the future, and to promote a learning environment that inspires and empowers people. He commented: “We have to give staff opportunities to learn, be challenged, and use different skillsets. We want them to gain exposure and then take that experience to other projects, so they maintain their enthusiasm and can see personal development as a journey.” As with new employees, onboarding programmes are designed to educate the importance of ISG’s core values – which focus on caring for the environment, our people and customers; continuous learning, good communications and the need to express ideas and opinions.

To develop a healthy pipeline of site managers, Tim said: “Speaking frankly is critical for us. It has been ingrained as part of our culture and a fantastic way to resolve problems. We promote openness so if, for example, you are an up-and-coming site supervisor, you are expected to speak up and share ideas.”

There is also a special focus to train soft skills, an example Tim provided is to interact with public and minimise feedback for live construction projects. Tim said, “We are constantly looking to increase the pool of TCPs (technically competent people) who can sign off on projects. In general, we explain that the better their personal skills, the better the chance of moving on to bigger projects.”

Other training programmes include the adoption of technology and innovation, which has been identified as a key enabler to ensure that the business builds the right capabilities to diversify its sector offering. The latest onsite technology, virtual 3D design and new collaboration tools are being adopted to enhance ISG’s offer, and internally, to improve teamwork, efficiency and overall productivity.

Looking to the future, Tim shared that the business growth strategy is to increase the scale and complexity of projects. He commented: “We see that as part of our natural growth. The strategy is to increase the scale and complexity of projects we win and build, so our staff get broader exposure and a stronger skill set.”

Follow the link to read the full article, ‘Talent Rush’, which can be found on