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A series of interviews with with ‘AGR-equivalents’ around the globe

Nishilla McKeogh

Campus Recruitment Global Markets, Credit Suisse

It was when she returned to university to study for her Psychology Graduate Diploma that Nishilla McKeogh, Campus Recruitment Global Markets at Credit Suisse, and part of the Operating Committee at the Hong Kong Association of Graduate Recruiters (HKAGR), discovered graduate recruitment, working for both Talent2 and Hobsons before spending a year studying for an MSc in Occupational Psychology. This led to a job at Barclays managing experienced hire assessment and selection. “I really enjoyed the variety and challenge of graduate recruitment work, interacting with students and delivering for the clients.” Now she is sharing her expertise half way across the world…

After moving to Hong Kong with her husband’s job in 2009 Nishilla was employed to head up Graduate Recruitment and Trainee Development for Linklaters. “What really appeals to me about working within graduate recruitment is the variety of work. I am constantly challenged to think and learn in different ways through my interaction and networking with a whole range of different people.” She has since worked for KPMG China, LIBBLER and, now, for Credit Suisse.

22 Graduate Recruiter |

As in the UK, Nishilla has seen graduate marketing budgets shrink during recent years, and has been challenged to come up with more creative ways of marketing and building a brand. “One of the ways in which I have done this with the firms that I have worked for in Hong Kong is by running interview skills training workshops for target universities − usually held in house – this way you build your brand, students get to visit your offices and you capture students’ buy-in by giving something back.”

Nishilla also gets her kicks from coaching assessors and recruiters on best practice in assessment and selection, as well as running student workshops. Through her role in the HKAGR she also runs and facilitates industry roundtables, workshops and events for members. “I am really passionate about sharing my knowledge and time in this way and I hope that I can make a difference for my peers and our members. I also feel that these opportunities help us to learn from each other, and other industry experts, and to find solutions for the issues that we face in Asia.”

There are, however, some striking differences between the UK and Asia, one of which lies in the cultural differences across the region. “Unlike recruiting in the UK you have to interact in a culturally appropriate way with people in different countries, and what is expected can vary vastly between the countries for which I am responsible.”

Another key issue facing international organisations in Hong Kong is that when sourcing locally there tends to be a gap between what organisations want and what students offer. “Students that have always lived and studied in Asia have strong technical skills and high academic grades but tend to lack a lot of the soft skills that international employers are looking for. This makes recruiting the ‘right fit talent’ a challenge for a large percentage of global employers.” Locally, some of the

skills such as communication, adaptability, collaborative skills and out-of-the-box thinking are often lacking. “Recruiters have to spend more time and effort globally sourcing western-educated Asian students who tend to have the academic and technical skills, the local language skills and the soft skills necessary to be successful in a multinational environment.”

In her work with HKAGR, Nishilla facilitates round-tables around certain topics, creating a forum where members can ask questions, share knowledge and ideas and learn from peers and other industry experts. The organisation has also carried out regional graduate and employers surveys, which provide a useful insight into the market in Asia.

But she also finds time to relax, and enjoys leisurely hikes. “It is a great escape from the skyscrapers and closed in spaces of the city.” The city is also superbly located to travel to other exotic locations – if just for a long weekend. “We have been lucky enough to take in the magnificent sights of Beijing, Vietnam, Penang and Chiang Mai and some of the beautiful resorts in Thailand, Borneo and Cebu – there is still plenty more to see and do and we intend to make the most of our time here!” n

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