Mobility Helps Develop a Successful Long-term Career

Dec 4, 2019 8:05 AM ET

Rick Truscott grew up in Oklahoma but never looked back after graduating with a mechanical engineering degree from Texas A&M University. He has lived in the US, Europe (where he studied for his MBA), and then in Asia, which has been his home for the past 24 years.

It is a global journey that has taken Rick through an astonishing variety of jobs. He joined the US Navy working on a submarine for five years after his graduation. Following the navy, he went skiing in Colorado and worked at night as a bartender. After getting his MBA in Austria and the US, a job took him to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand, where he joined CLP. He moved to Hong Kong almost ten years ago and today is Chief Operating Officer of CLP Power Hong Kong.

Rick’s story is a vivid example of how mobility across geography and job functions can equip someone for a top job. It also helps illustrate why CLP encourages employees to be mobile so as to gain wider exposure and perspectives which in turns helps a long-term career development.

“In an era of energy transition and digital disruption, a mobile workforce is more important than ever to CLP. Working in different countries or roles helps build the capability and adaptability of the staff and supports their career development. Talent mobility will also enable the company to be more agile and enduring when business conditions change and, in turn, support sustained business growth. A mobile workforce further promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace which encourages diverse ideas and perspectives that foster innovation in the company,” says Sara Wong, Director - Corporate & Asia Pacific from Group Human Resources.

Embrace Change and Realise Every Possibility of Yourself

The key to moving between job functions is the ability to connect the dots, transferring skills learnt in the past and building on experience.

“In the US Navy, I learnt about power plants and nuclear power,” Rick says. “We had a submarine with nuclear reactor which propelled the submarine and made electricity.” This knowledge paid dividends when he later led the construction of a coal-fired power plant after joining CLP.

When he joined CLP in Thailand in 1999, Rick initially worked mainly on business development, leading teams for projects, negotiating contracts, and raising finance. He later switched to a role in operations which reduced his seniority but increased his opportunities and gave him a more stable family life.

That experience taught Rick another important life lesson. “Don’t be afraid to go sideways or even go down, because it can broaden your experience,” he says. “It’s very important that you build a diverse collection of experiences and knowledge. This gives you valuable perspective to understand and manage in today’s complex environments, because you get different perspectives that prepare you for many potential eventualities.”

Rick moved from Thailand to Hong Kong in 2010 and maintained his flexibility, working in business units including Generation and Power Systems, as well as his current role.

Be Ready to Step out of Your Comfort Zone

Moving to a new location or a different role forces people to step out of their comfort zones.

Patrick Leung, Associate Director - Asset Management & Operations - Renewable (China), never thought he would work outside Hong Kong before he moved to Daya Bay in 2008 and ended up staying there for seven years.

Patrick had worked with CLP in Hong Kong for more than a decade before the move and decided it was time for a new challenge when the Daya Bay opportunity came up. “My attitude was ‘Never say never’,” he says.

The move turned out to be richly rewarding. “One of the most valuable things I learnt was to solve problems with different approaches,” he says. “If I had never left Hong Kong, I might only have known one approach to problem-solving. But in a different environment, the approach you are used to may not always work.”

Patrick concludes: “The most important thing is not to put yourself in a box.”

Find Your Own Career Path

Not every career path follows the same trajectory. Some employees take a traditional route from working on operational tasks to formulating higher-level strategy. For Mandy Leung, Deputy Director - Substation Implementation, however, the route was reversed.

Mandy began her career at CLP in 2001 working on network planning in the Power Systems Business Group (PSBG) and later worked on regulatory management and environmental strategy. Then in 2017, she joined the Engineering Projects Department of PSBG to work on circuits, overhead lines, and transmission substations.

“At first, my work was more about planning, strategy, policies, and interacting with the Government,” she says. “Those experiences broadened my horizons. Later, due to the company’s development needs, I moved to working on engineering projects. I learnt to implement plans and work on things in more depth. That way, I have been able to develop both the breadth and depth of my work.”

Sharing Best Practices

“Employee mobility not only helps the individual involved but also the company, expanding people’s horizons and giving them the opportunity to share different experiences and best practices”, says Tom Beach, Associate Director - Project Development from Group Operations.

Tom, who was born in South Africa of British descent, has lived around the world in countries including the UK, Nigeria, Turkey, and South Africa, before joining CLP in Hong Kong.

“You see different rules and regulatory systems,” he says. “These require different ways of approaching challenges. It can help you put things into context. Learning best practices across the Group is very important – and having people who are mobile helps make sure those best practices are shared.”

To learn more about CLP’s connection with society, please check out the latest issue of CLP.CONNECT.