Two leaders of Stan Group – the Hong Kong-based property, hospitality, communication services, financial services and social innovation conglomerate – shared their expert insights in March: at the annual Stan Group Appreciation Dinner, and at an SCMP forum entitled Talent Engagement and Retention Through Development, Culture Alignment and More. Stan Tang, chairman of the Group, and Mary Suen, head of corporate culture and talent development, discussed with us:#sgccpressroom further on how a purposeful culture and new forms of leadership are underpinning the Group’s transformation of its business structure, in line with a substantive expansion plan.
 
What are the fundamental aspects of Stan Group’s culture?
 
Stan Tang: We have more than 1,500 individuals working in operations at Stan Group. We consider our people and our culture to be integral parts of our business strategy and long-term success.
Our corporate culture is firmly grounded in what our people believe and how they behave. Guided by Confucian philosophy and led by our management motto – “The path to success begins with self-cultivation” – we emphasise respect at every level as our fundamental core value.

 
How has developing Stan Group’s culture played a role in acquiring talent and fuelling the company’s success?
 
ST: We can have the world’s greatest strategy, yet it won’t succeed if the company culture does not sustain that strategy. The culture is the most difficult thing to create, because we’re talking about people: human beings who are forever evolving in terms of their behaviour, attitudes and expectations. Fostering culture must be an ongoing process. As leaders, we need to demonstrate our own belief in the culture in order to inspire everyone who doesn’t already practise our values.
 
Mary Suen: Yes – to us, culture is fundamental to talent acquisition. Developing our culture is a daily job – just as recruitment is not only about filling vacancies. The most important thing to bear in mind is that we hire people, not résumés. People are at the heart of our operations. What we make sure to achieve is to foster a culture of respect and inclusiveness. Then we are well placed to attract talent, to work together and to become a family. Being able to create this sort of trust and team spirit – this is what it means to foster success.
 
How does the Group’s CSV strategy integrate with your talent, culture and business strategies?
 
ST: Our long-term approach to business is defined by how we engage our stakeholders, and centres on creating shared value, or CSV. This influences our overall corporate strategy and also plays a role in our talent, business and social strategies.
 
While CSV is a useful principle when evaluating our operations, it lacks the corporate culture elements of management style, mission integration and communication, so vital to fostering stakeholder engagement and motivation at the individual level.
 
How did we go about this? We put investment and effort into cultivating various aspects of our culture, from corporate to coaching to innovation in three Stages, nine Steps; we also encourage self-cultivation among our employees. Ensuring the well-being of every member of Stan Group is key to maintaining the high energy, optimism and innovation in our business. We also recognise these efforts as creating shared value for individuals and their families, for our communities and for society.
 
What does culture change mean for you, day to day?
 
MS: It’s like writing a book. There are lots of chapters; they are linked, but they are distinct. Stan is writing different chapters with every single engagement he does, such as vision alignment, business development and social influencer events. We are writing other chapters on our side, as are our team members. Every day, we’re writing new chapters to bring about changes to our organisation and our culture. We are far from finished.