Monthly Update – April 2011

Market News
China announced during April that a total of 56 new airports would be built around the country over the next 5 years. This is due to the expected increase in numbers of people traveling by air around the region.

Idled China Southern MD-80sphoto © 2008 Ned | more info (via: Wylio)

Shanghai Disneyland construction began in early April. A ground-breaking ceremony was held attended by local dignitaries and representatives from Disney. The project will be completed in a couple of years and is expected to be larger than the Hong Kong Disneyland and cost around $3.7 billion US.

China this month released population data collected from it’s recent census. The urban population in the country has risen to an amazing 665.57 million people accounting for 49.68% of the population as of November 2010. Since the 2000 census, the urban population has increased by 13.46%.

Shanghai © 2009 Jakob Montrasio | more info (via: Wylio)

In Hong Kong, office rents are nearly back up to their 2008 highs. Demand is expected to remain high in Central and Admiralty although some analysts forecast that increasing decentralization will occur in the next couple of years as various MTR links are completed. Wong Chuk Hang on the south of Hong Kong Island is expected to feel a boom when the South Island MTR Line is completed in 2015. A number of developers are readying office properties to open during the course of the next 3-4 years.

Poll Result

This month’s poll asked for what your response would be to receiving a counter offer. As always, we took 100 votes from you all and received a great response.

The results are as follows:

It was interesting to see that the overwhelming majority of respondents (more than 69%) claimed that they would not consider any counter offer from a current employer. No one said that they would look to move jobs in order to receive a counter offer. We will be posting a 2 part article next about how to handle resignations and counter offers which is something we are asked about a lot both by clients and candidates.

Thank you all for voting. Again, most respondents were based or do work in Asia.

What’s Hot

We have experienced yet another busy month during April.

Project Management candidates with experience working in China are still required by our developer clients. Architectural or engineering candidates are being considered and these can be from Assistant to Project Director level. Some firms are willing to consider candidates to be based in Hong Kong and travel to site in China but the overwhelming majority require candidates to be stationed in 2nd or 3rd tier cities full-time.

In the design sector we need architects at all levels. We have recently placed a number of candidates ranging from fresh grads through to Senior Associates. Candidates with strong experience in Asia already, and preferably language ability, are in most demand. Some companies are considering international candidates but only if they have really strong experience in Asia and ideally China. A number of firms are looking to grow their current small teams in China and as such we see the need for good architectural staff only increasing in 2011. Interior Designers, Urban Designers and Landscape Architects are also required by firms in Hong Kong and China. We have a couple of senior positions for Urban Designers coming through to be based in Beijing and Shanghai. Candidates with a strong knowledge of masterplanning in China are highly sought after.

A number of contractors and construction firms are keen to speak to Planning Engineers, Fit-Out Project Managers (Mandarin speakers) and Quantity Surveyors for Hong Kong and Shanghai. We’re also experiencing a demand for good data-centre experienced candidates. There are a range of interesting opportunities out there for suitably experienced candidates.

Most Urgent Requirements

We have outlined below the urgent vacancies we have had through from clients over the last month.

  • Project Director – Iconic Super-Tall Tower Development (to be stationed in Guangdong, China)
  • Senior Masterplanner (Associate Director) – Shanghai – Growing Design Led International Practice
  • Senior Associate (Hotel Design) – Hong Kong & Shanghai – World Renowned Design Firm
  • Senior E&M Manager – China, multiple locations – One of Hong Kong’s Top Listed Developers
  • Urban Planning Director – Hong Kong or Shanghai – Global Architecture and Design Name
  • Senior Interior Designers – Hong Kong – Hotels
  • Project Managers (Fit-Out) – Hong Kong or Shanghai – Corporate Office and Data-Centre Experience
  • Associate Directors (Architecture) – Shanghai – A Top International Design Firm looking for studio leaders

We also have many, many more roles posted on our website and these are only an overview of our top positions at this time. Please check back regularly and follow us on Twitter to be informed immediately of our latest requirements.

Please visit our website for more information on the above roles and our other vacancies:

If you wish to enquire about a position please send an email and your CV to

Don’t forget you can follow us on Twitter here: Please also subscribe to our blog by filling in the email subscription form on the right to stay up to date with our latest posts, updates and information.


Chinese City Fact: Kunming

Kunming is a rapidly changing and growing city in Yunnan province. Located on a plateau at 1900m, it is often known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for it’s temperate climate and lush vegetation all year round.

Flower and decorations in Kunmingphoto © 2005 Philippe Semanaz | more info (via: Wylio)

Kunming has played host to a number of key international expos and conferences in recent years which has helped spur infrastructure development and growth. It’s location in South West China meant it was somewhat overlooked for most of the 1990’s growth but this has changed in recent years as it’s importance as a transport hub and a tourist destination has been recognised.

Kunming in the early morning (zao shang)photo © 2005 Philippe Semanaz | more info (via: Wylio)

Particularly notable has been it’s growth into a second tier retail market. A number of key brands have established stores in the city including LVMH, Maserati and Hermes. A number of Hong Kong based developers are also looking to develop real estate in a city which they see having a bright future in the coming years.

Normal posts will resume next week…

…for now, why not check out some of our previous articles and posts from the last few months – links below. We’ll be back after the Easter break next week with more City Facts and our Monthly Update next Friday.


Opinion Polls

You can still vote in our current April Poll by going here: Opinion Poll: April 2011

You can also see the results from our previous polls by visiting this part of our blog: Opinion Polls

Chinese City Facts

Our Chinese City Facts can also be seen by visiting: Chinese City Facts

Monthly Updates

Click on the links below to read our Monthly Updates so far:

To all of you with time off for Easter, enjoy the break and we’ll see you again next week!

Chinese City Fact: Zhengzhou

Zhengzhou is located in North-Central China and is on south bank the Yellow River. It is one of the “Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China” and has a population of around 4.5 million people in the urban area.

Industry sprang up after 1949 turning what was once more of a commercial and administrative centre into an industrial city with cotton plants and mills creating textiles from the surrounding cotton fields. Quite a dusty and windy city, the government has planted a huge number of trees over the years to hold down the sand that used to blow through.

IMG_2909photo © 2009 David Woo | more info (via: Wylio)

With the completion of the high-speed rail network in China in the coming years, Zhengzhou will have a number of lines intersecting in the city. It is envisaged that this will promote rapid development of the city and it’s importance in inland China will grow.

IMG_2992photo © 2009 David Woo | more info (via: Wylio)

For more information on Zhengzhou please visit:

Opinion Poll: April 2011 (Poll Now Closed)

  • UPDATE 27th April 2011 – this poll is now closed. Thank you to all who voted – the results can be seen below – we received a 100 votes and we’ll be commenting on the results in our Monthly Update to be published on Friday 29th April.

It’s time for our monthly opinion poll. This month we would like to know what your reaction would be to receiving a counter offer from your current employer. Would you stay? Was that the aim all along? As the markets in Asia get busier, the likelihood of candidates receiving counter offers increases as companies try to keep hold of their staff. It would be great to hear how you would respond to receiving one.

As with last month’s poll, please also tell us where you are based. This information is collected totally anonymously.

We’ll be commenting on the results in our Monthly Update at the end of the month so get voting!

Chinese City Fact: Changchun

Changchun is a city in North East China that was originally established in the 19th Century as a minor trading town. It has since grown into a city of around 4.8 million and is sometimes given the nickname of “China’s Detroit” – this is a result of the large automotive industry that is located in the city. A slightly unusual fact is that over 50% of all tractors in China are manufactured in Changchun.

DSCF2010photo © 2005 Satbir Singh | more info (via: Wylio)

The city layout is extremely compact and was planned by the Japanese. There are a lot of avenues and parks and a new focus for future development is directed towards the Changchun World Sculpture Park.

DSCF1999photo © 2005 Satbir Singh | more info (via: Wylio)

For more facts on Changchun please visit:

Managing Your Expectations – Relocating to Asia – Part 2

Part 1 of this article can be found by clicking here and focuses on the markets in general and what companies are looking for.

Part 2 – Salary, benefits and holidays

As part of any research into relocation, come the inevitable questions of what you may be able to expect in terms of salary package and working conditions. A lot of candidates ask me whether salaries are much higher due to the continued growth. I would say that salaries are comparable to Western salaries and can sometimes be a little less – the key thing to remember is that in general, the cost of living in Asia can be markedly less than elsewhere so a similar salary or even less can give candidates a very good quality of life. If you are expecting a big uplift in salary I’d say this is unlikely to happen. A lot of candidates see Asia as the next Middle East in terms of earning potential but fail to realise that there is a larger candidate pool already in Asia, something the Middle East lacked during it’s early growth phase. The Middle East had to pay big money to attract new talent into the region and Asia simply doesn’t have to at the moment.

From the Peak – Hong Kongphoto © 2006 eyeSPIVE | more info (via: Wylio)

Alongside salary I’m often asked about other benefits. Will the company pay for relocation? Will they pay for housing? The answer really depends on each company. Some are happy to cover the cost of the initial flights for the candidate and spouse, others expect the candidate to cover this cost. Some will put people up in initial accommodation for the first month but it’s extremely rare for people to receive a long term housing allowance – the only real exception being those at a senior level. Some will offer to cover the cost of relocating belongings but again this is mainly for more senior candidates. Generally speaking, if a candidate doesn’t have prior Asia experience, companies will sometimes test their seriousness to move by getting them to cover their initial relocation costs. After a probation period, with the company suitably reassured, candidates can sometimes be given increase in their salary or a bonus. I would say overall, perks and benefits are comparable to companies in the West and most international, and increasingly local, companies offer very fair remuneration packages.

I’m also asked regularly about hours of work and holidays. The hours do tend to be longer in Asia with companies often working until quite late in the evening. Some people have heard of there being a 6 day week but this has changed a lot in recent years and the majority of companies work the standard 5 day week now. People are often surprised when they receive an offer and find the holiday allowance is less than in the West. In Hong Kong for example, the average annual holiday allowance is around 10-12 days per year. The key thing to remember though is that Hong Kong has a lot of public holidays throughout the year (around 9 or 10 more than the UK) and things such as Chinese New Year or the Mid-Autumn Festival give people quite long periods of time off work. The same applies for China where there a number of 3-4 day holiday periods during the year.

Mid-Autumn-Festivalphoto © 2008 Gordon Tam | more info (via: Wylio)

It may seem that this article is focusing on the negatives for those looking to relocate. That is not the intention. I’m aiming to provide a guide as to what to realistically expect when looking at the possibility of relocating to Asia. Ultimately it’s an extremely fulfilling region to work in and will undoubtedly offer most people a great life experience to look back on. But it is also important to be aware of the facts and to have a realistic overview should you take the plunge and decide that Asia is for you. As long as you have done your homework, you are committed and understand what you could expect from an offer, there is no reason why you can’t have success. The good thing (and sometimes bad thing) about Asia is that the markets can change quickly, so where this week companies may not be that keen to source international candidates, next week they could land a huge project and need a big team. I do foresee there being a skill shortage in the future and therefore greater opportunities for people to relocate – it’s just a bit tricky to predict when that may be!