Anne Vermersch, HR director, Beauty Express
Q Why did you decide to move to Hong Kong?
I am originally from France. I hold a master’s degree in HR and project management from a French business school. I decided to move to Hong Kong because I wanted a new challenge and to explore more about HR in Asia. Hong Kong is a great place to grow from a career prospective. The opportunities can be huge. Here you can have the chance to boost your career very quickly. Hopefully I achieved my goal. I would say it was worth taking this decision.
Q How did you get started in HR? For which companies did you previously work?
I started my career in France at Daimler Group (Mercedes-Benz). I had an HR generalist role there. This is where I learnt the basics of HR. After that, I moved to Belgium to work for a pharmaceutical company called Keyrus Biopharma that specialised in clinical research. When I arrived in Hong Kong, I had the chance to be part of an international HR team for a short-term contract project for an American retail sourcing company, The Children’s Place.
Then I had the opportunity to join Beauty Express. Beauty Express is a distributor of luxury skincare and haircare brands with around 50 retail shops in Hong Kong. The company has grown very quickly since its establishment 11 years ago.
Q Please share how Beauty Express recruits front line staff?
First of all, we quickly made the conclusion it would not be through the most popular job boards that we would succeed in recruiting the best talent in terms of quantity, but also quality. So, we decided to work on our employer brand by building a strong digital marketing strategy through social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
We created some short testimonial videos where we asked our staff why they chose our company as their employer, how they feel at work, why people should join us … and the results were amazing!
Of course, we are using other recruitment channels such as our referral programme which also brings excellent results. Within this programme, we are asking our staff to refer us to some of their friends, relatives or contacts from their own network. In exchange we offer them attractive bonuses and gifts.
Q What is the biggest HR challenge that Beauty Express has to face?
The main challenge of our company is for sure the retention of our staff. This represents a huge challenge for us, especially when the company keeps on growing very fast. The luxury retail industry market is very fluctuating, inconsistent and is changing every day. We always need to be up to date, innovative and creative to keep our staff and attract the best talent.
Q How does Beauty Express retain its talent?
As I mentioned, this part is a challenge. To improve retention, we had to build an action plan. First, we reviewed and changed all our benefits. We are offering a very attractive salary package with a high commission scheme. Second, we daily coach our sales managers and trainers to build a strong and trustful professional relationship with our staff. Communication is the key to maintaining a good relationship with our staff.
Then we reviewed all our HR procedures. We are now able to give our staff effective onboarding with an in-depth HR follow-up during the year, and the opportunity to build their own career advancement. Even during exit interviews, we sometimes succeed in making them change their mind and stay with the company. As a retention project, we also organised a rejoin event where we invited all our previous staff for a nice gathering and after the event, we successfully made a lot of people rejoin.
Q What is the best career advice you have received?
That’s an excellent question. I am still eager to receive the best advice. Well, to answer your question, from my personal experience, I would say the best advice I have received is trust in yourself and take risks. Try new challenges, never give up when you face a problem and stretch your limits. This is the best advice I have received which has helped me to be where I am today.