Sarah Dai, journalist

‘As much as we hail technology for the fast growth over the past 20 years, it has been talent that stands behind every revolutionary product from iPhone to Tesla,’ says David Yu, CEO of recruitment company Hudson Greater China. ‘To companies, leading professionals are the core asset, the engine and the cornerstone of the business.’

‘There’s a clear recovery sign of rising talent demand, which will stimulate finance and technology’

Despite the rhetoric of cost reduction worldwide, Yu believes that few businesses are faced with the sort of operational challenges that require cashflow stabilisation through cost-cutting. The layoffs at tech companies, he adds, are a cyclical reaction to the hiring spree during the pandemic, when the sector was riding the remote-working boom.

‘Most companies are hiring while trimming headcounts in certain areas as a way to change gears and double down in fields with greater growth potential, such as ChatGPT,’ he says. ‘In China, there’s a clear recovery sign of rising talent demand, starting with consumption, which will stimulate finance and technology.’

Yu, who joined Hudson in 2020, after 20 years in the tech sector, adds that China’s ageing population will help the country turn its ‘demographic dividend’ into a ‘talent dividend’. And that is precisely where his company comes in. Deeply rooted in China, Hudson’s business is to put the right people in the right positions. Over the past 20 years, it has filled more than 20,000 top positions.

Frontier insights

Working in talent solutions keeps Yu’s finger firmly on the pulse of business across China. He says the sectors and areas currently sucking in labour, such as e-vehicles and ESG roles, began their search for top talent years ago.

‘As talent hunters talk to CEOs, chief human resources executives and those in charge of strategic planning on a regular basis, we are like harbingers of what is going to happen in each field, and how the demand and supply of talent will evolve,’ he says.

‘When any company hires a recent graduate, it is not the present value they appreciate most’



CEO, Hudson Greater China


General manager, Pivotal Software Greater China


Managing director, LinkedIn China


General manager, HP Software Greater China


General manager of channel, SAP


Finance manager, Procter & Gamble China

Such ‘frontier insights’ can deliver maximum impact through collaboration with professional organisations such as ACCA. ‘We can work with universities, ACCA and other professional bodies to better prepare young professionals and ensure the supply of talent matches the market demand,’ he says.

In 2021, Hudson signed an agreement with ACCA China to work together in the training and career development of top accounting and financial professionals. ‘ACCA itself is a gigantic pool of talent,’ says Yu. ‘The starting point for members is accounting and finance, but they can end up becoming the business backbone across various functions and industries.’

Stellar performance

Yu credits ACCA with supercharging his own career. ‘The more I studied, the more I realised the qualification is not only imparting accounting and financial knowledge but also comprehensive training for business administration. The ACCA curriculum prepares professionals to grow into business leaders along the way.’

Leaders with an in-depth understanding of accounting and finance can help companies achieve stellar performance in a sustainable and stable way, he points out. ‘While bringing value to our shareholders and increasing profits is core for all CEOs, those with a deep-rooted financial background pay equal importance to cashflow and cost control. Spending wisely means investing, and corporate spend can be a good thing for seizing opportunities, especially during a period of fast expansion, when there’s a fine line to tread.’

He offers an example from his own experience. Rather than simply hire staff to quickly expand a company’s salesforce in China, he devised a reward system to encourage cross-selling from other business segments.

Stay grounded

Yu encourages young professionals to aim high while staying grounded. ‘When any company hires a recent graduate, it is not the present value they appreciate most – otherwise they would choose a more experienced candidate. Young people are expected to learn fast, hone their skillsets and accumulate knowledge, so it is their potential that attracts.’

Although it’s important to aim high, it’s equally important to keep your head down and start with small things, according to Yu. ‘I wouldn’t evaluate every assignment in terms of it helping me become a CEO, or get upset by something trivial such as my peers receiving a better bonus. Instead, I would focus on getting myself into the key projects of a Fortune 500 company or a leading enterprise, such as Tesla’s new plant in Shanghai, where there are more opportunities to get hands on and go beyond the original work scope and the industry average level.’

For employers, welcoming Gen Z and meeting their workplace expectations is equally important, he says. ‘Adapting corporate culture and even organisational structure to their ideas is a matter of long-term survival to a company, as Gen Z takes over as the main workforce.’

‘It’s worth being aware of AI’s double-edged nature and keeping a close eye on the ethical and legal risks’

Embracing the future

The rise of ChatGPT and artificial intelligence is another trend worth watching, he says. ‘While AI and other new technologies are expected to further increase productivity and create new employment opportunities and even new industries, it will also take away certain jobs that are more repetitive or require fewer interactions. It’s worth being aware of AI’s double-edged nature and keeping a close eye on the ethical and legal risks.’

That said, Yu believes in embracing the future. ‘Just like how working with a laptop transformed the way we work across all industries, it won’t be long before we all learn to work with ChatGPT. From individuals to teams, we can all benefit from making good use of AI and other advanced technologies.’



Years of international talent management experience


Number of clients in China, around half of which are global companies or local champions


Number of top positions it has filled


Number of professionals in its China talent pool