Since I was small, I have always loved trying different things. I dreamed of being a teacher, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, a radio host or a travel-journalist. Believe it or not, in the Swire Management Trainee programme, you actually get to do all these.

Let me backtrack a bit and tell you about my story. I read Translation and Japanese at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and in between I went on exchange in Japan and the US. After my graduation, I joined the Swire MT Programme and was posted to the Aviation industry. In the past 7 years, I have been enjoying a ‘buffet’ of one- to two-year postings in Cathay Pacific and Dragonair in Hong Kong, London and Chongqing.

It would be impossible for me to name a single posting that is my ‘favourite’ per se, but one of the most all-round exposure would be my 2-year posting in Chongqing as Port Manager in 2010-2012. As ‘Port Manager’ you basically manage everything from sales, operations, marketing & PR, customer relations, legal compliance, administration, finance and personnel. As I remember my boss said to me when I started in Chongqing, ‘the port is yours to run’. It is an immense honour to lead and work with a young, dynamic team of staff; and interact with distinctive figures in the business scene. And you get to sign million-dollar contracts like an entrepreneur or a lawyer; you appear in the media to promote CX and KA like a travel journalist or a radio host; you lead your team in a way not unlike a teacher – my childhood career dreams came true, only better.

The most memorable project during my Chongqing tenure was to launch Cathay Pacific's freighter service in response to the fast-growing IT manufacturing industry there. It was months of hard work by the Chongqing and the Headquarters' teams - to employ all the right new colleagues, to get all the operational requirements fulfilled, to liaise with governmental authorities and business counterparts and to build a new office. It was actually the first time Chongqing saw a scheduled service of the gigantic Boeing 747 freighter and everyone in the trade was thrilled.

I can’t properly describe the excitement when you heard the deafening whizz as the aircraft eventually took off from Chongqing airport and soared into the night skies, and when you saw the smiles of relief and satisfaction on your staff’s faces; when you met plane aficionados who came to pay tribute to the historical moment and circulate the news all over weibo; when you read the congratulatory notes in Chongqing newspapers the next morning; and when you shared a celebratory spicy hotpot meal with the team over a couple (maybe ‘a couple’ is an understatement) beers…all the hard work and nights staying up became worthwhile.

The idea behind an MT’s rotational posting is, whenever you go to a new role, you go there, turn it into a place better than when you found it, and move on to the next challenge. You have to make sure you have an adaptive mind and high emotional endurance to goodbyes though. You sometimes start up a project that is really close to your heart but you don’t get to see it through because another new challenge needs you. You meet new people and live in new cities, and eventually you have to leave them for newer ones. These could be teary moments, but memorable too.

If you’re ready for the fun, toil, tears and sweat, do apply for this exciting MT programme. I look forward to meeting you as part of this big Swire family.

My name is Karen Kwan. I am a Cargo Planning Manager in Hong Kong. I was on the Swire Group Staff Management Trainee Programme from 2006-2009 and I wrote this to give you a better idea of what a career with Swire is really like.