Kwai Chung has suddenly become controversial.
We are not talking about satirical media group Most Kwai Chung, whose record-breaking initial public offering and trading debut suddenly soured after a spokesman dished out silly, irrelevant remarks in response to reporters’ queries about the company’s outlook during its first big day at the stock market.
We’re talking about Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN), which gave us a glimpse into how ambitious firms and high-flying Silicon Valley startups are treating those who want to join their august company.
The firm owned previously by telecom maverick Ricky Wong and now by private equity CVC Asia issued a press release saying they have received 2,700 applicants from 10 countries for the 19 slots in their summer internship programs in Kwai Chung this year.
HKBN wasted no time in bragging that their acceptance rate was only 0.7 percent, far lower than the 5.2 percent cutoff at Harvard University, meaning it is seven times harder to get into the company than to be accepted in the leading Ivy League institution.
But it was the letter sent to these applicants by co-owner and chief operating officer Niq Lai that set the local social media abuzz.
We should, of course, presume that Lai has the best of intentions.
Says Lai: “Instead of just sending a standard CV, submit something that will wow us, even if we did not ask for it, as this will be the only way to stand out among the 2,700 applicants.”
OK, so you need to be able to “wow” management to secure one of those coveted slots. But HKBN itself needs to “wow” those who make it through the tight screening process because that would mean they are really talented and special, and therefore may have also received job offers from other equally, if not more prestigious firms.
“At HKBN, we are fighting the legacy incumbent that is 10 times our revenue size,” the letter says, “so we are looking for talents who are 10 times better than average.”
The letter continues: “Don’t waste time telling me ‘my mother is a woman’. Rather, tell me ‘why my mother is beautiful’.”
How an applicant’s beautiful mother relates to the internship program is anybody’s guess.
We can understand HKBN’s enthusiasm about getting the crème de la crème of the job market, but the company also ought to know the golden rule when it comes to office protocols: Never bring your mother to work.
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