Jimmy Auw, Director of Central Asia Pacific Services at Lenovo, talks with Sarah about four major focus areas that come into play as Lenovo looks to seize the potential of service.
Sarah Nicastro: Welcome to the Future of Field Service podcast, I’m your host Sarah Nicastro. Today I’m going to be talking a bit about the opportunity of embracing service and the potential it can bring to your business with Lenovo. I’m excited to welcome to the podcast today Jimmy Auw who is the director of service operations for Central Asia-Pacific at Lenovo. Jimmy welcome to the Future of Field Service Podcast.
Jimmy Auw: Hey Sarah thank you for having me in this call, interesting podcast right?
Sarah Nicastro: Yes.
Jimmy Auw: So thank you for making time, I know it’s a bit late in your time zone and thank you for making up the time for this event.
Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely, my kids are in bed for the night and I’m ready to party, so that sounds good to me all right. Jimmy thank you for being here, I appreciate it. We have a lot of folks on this podcast and we’re talking across industries, across geographies about this potential that service presents for business growth, business transformation, business expansion, business differentiation. And I think these conversations are really, really interesting because they vary a bit industry to industry, company to company but there is this major trend and common thread of this huge potential.
Sarah Nicastro: I think that there is this energy right now around almost being in the cusp of a real evolution of service and what is possible in terms of transforming customer relationships and really just growing business in new and exciting ways. So I love having this conversation and I’m excited to talk about what you see. But before we do that let’s just talk a little bit about your history, your background. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Lenovo.
Jimmy Auw: Okay thank you Sarah. My name is Jimmy Auw. I’m currently leading Central Asia-Pacific service operation in Lenovo like you already shared earlier. So basically I’m managing the customer service operation end to end, covering the Central Asian-Pacific countries. Maybe to be precise ASEAN countries and covering also Hong Kong, Taiwan, Koreas and surrounding smaller markets, approximately for 14, 15 markets in my region.
Jimmy Auw: And personally I’ve been in this industry services for 15 years plus, mainly in the IT, computer and telecom industry. I’m a married man, two kids, one boy one girl. They’re starting to grow up, I think that’s a short introduction about myself.
Sarah Nicastro: How old are your children?
Jimmy Auw: 10 and seven.
Sarah Nicastro: Okay.
Jimmy Auw: The boy one is 10 and the daughter one is seven.
Sarah Nicastro: Mine are two sons, and my oldest will be six this month and then my youngest will be 5 this year, so they keep me busy.
Jimmy Auw: Enjoy the moment.
Sarah Nicastro: Yes, I know it goes fast. Okay, good. And how long have you been at Lenovo?
Jimmy Auw: About six years plus, I think six years and couple of months.
Sarah Nicastro: Okay, great. Let’s talk a little bit then Jimmy about your perception of this opportunity around service that I spoke about. Tell me what your thoughts are on it. Just based on your own personal experience in the different roles you’ve had at the industry level, what you see specifically within Lenovo. Talk a little bit about that potential that exists and your perspective on that.
Jimmy Auw: Okay, of course when you talk about services, there are some company that’s specializing in the like hospitality, of course service will be their nature. But when it comes to the IT industry, the company that’s usually selling hardware, services is after sales. We quite be familiar with people calling after-sales services. Service only happens after-sales, In fact maybe not all customers will ever experience the services in the past.
Jimmy Auw: Let’s say maybe the failure rate is 2%, 3% percent, assume if you’re selling a million machine maybe only 2%, 3% customer will ever see you with services. I mean that could be something in the past but I think seeing the future, maybe it’s happening now services is starting to change, they are transforming, at least from my own view. Now we are seeing services as something that may start as the starting point when we want to talk to our customers. It could be if you also feel everything now being take like services. People are quite familiar with device as a services even now you’re buying software, in the past you’re buying application you need to pay upfront, very expensive.
Jimmy Auw: But now you can buy with a subscription. It’s also part of the service, so you buy per your usage. I think people are also start to shift the perception from services as after sales, with services as something to start immobilization. And if people in the past were always thinking services as a call center, I think people need to change the mindset that it’s not about the cost anymore, it’s about how will the image of your company with the services, in fact, how you can start making revenue, making the profit itself from selling services.
Jimmy Auw: So pretty much what I can feel from my own view, service has transformed and the transformation is now getting even faster, not sure if the COVID could be the reason but I guess once we start to do this working from home, school from home, most of the customers of a company they’re expecting to have more solution. So solution itself might not be just a PC, I mean, you can always buy PC, you can always buy laptop, smartphone, but what is the solution provided to accompany those devices to meet the requirement?
Jimmy Auw: That’s definitely something that is hitting up. I saw some of the market and quite interesting. It’s the education, how we tried to provide solution to our education, the school government, how they can make the remote learning, remote working to be more effective. How the teacher could use some whiteboard but it’s going to be online so that kids could see what the teachers are writing. I think it’s better than you just send a PDF file. Like it or not, we’re definitely be going there, pretty much very fast.
Sarah Nicastro: I think that’s a really good point Jimmy about to what degree did COVID amplifier, multiply this potential for service. And the example that you shared around education, it makes me think, when you think about as a product based business looking to embrace the service opportunity, right? There’s a lot of layers to that. Because on one side of the coin you have businesses that really see that potential and they’re very intent on leading that charge and leveraging service to seize that potential.
Sarah Nicastro: And then there’s businesses on the other hand that are very comfortable with the product centric approach and they’re very rooted to how they’ve historically done things. That’s tough, right? What that mindset is dictates a really different path. But if you want to really leverage the service opportunity, you have to become more customer focus. It’s one thing to know as a product manufacturer, here’s a product that our customers want to buy. But to your point, customers can buy that product a lot of different places.
Jimmy Auw: Yeah.
Sarah Nicastro: I think when you look at leveraging service strategically, what you’re really talking about is problem solving. And I think that what happened with COVID, particularly around the education topic is it surfaced very apparently a challenge that was easy to see, identify and start to innovate around. But the reality is those opportunities in the form of the challenges your customers have are in every industry that you sell into, in every situation that your customers are in. It was just a really good exercise, I think for companies that haven’t already started this path to dip their toes into thinking as a service company or a solution provider instead of just a product manufacturer. Does that make sense?
Jimmy Auw: Yes, I agree. I mean, there could be a challenge on some companies that they are very familiar, I’m not saying traditional but if you’re working in the hospitality industry, it’s very easy because you know everything about services, everything about knowing your customers, customer is always right, how you can give the right things to comfort for the customers. But when you think about the other company or the other businesses, they might not have this, how to say it, the nature is not like that.
Jimmy Auw: It will require some mindset change, it will require a lot of support from leadership to understand that this is the right vision of the company, we need to transform. I mean, having said that, Lenovo Luckily, we have a great support from our leadership. In fact, I’m not sure if you read the news, we did the reorg again in the last couple of months, we set up a new organization, we call it SSG, Solution and Services Group.
Jimmy Auw: So basically, we will start focusing this organization to think how we can give solution and services to our customers. So we have a different organization running the basic hardware of box solution, but then we have another organization, they’re specifically running to see how they can combine all the solution, all the innovative thing from the company and sell to our customers.
Jimmy Auw: I think we believe if we have someone dedicated to really spend time meeting our customers, understand their requirement by analyzing the industry trend, they could definitely understand more. And by doing so, we expect things to definitely helping us to understand better and sell more solution to our customers. Of course, the result itself, we have a very strong year on improvement on the revenue that really set things that the company has done the absolutely right direction now, that’s I think what we are trying to do.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.
Jimmy Auw: I talk with a lot of peers in the industry, they also share similar challenges. It’s not easy to change the mindset not only of the leaders but the team itself. Once you’re very used to selling something physical, maybe hardware, devices. Then you need to sell something that is not yet there, even maybe you need to operate a solution architect, how they can make a solution for the customers can be very customized from customer A customer B. But it might be a bit challenging at the very beginning. You are really right, that is definitely not easy.
Sarah Nicastro: There’s a couple things I want to talk about, first of all that mindset shift. Lenovo is there, right? And I want to go back to that, but what do you think it is that gives organizations that lightbulb moment to see this potential and want to undergo the transformation versus just staying very set in their ways?
Jimmy Auw: Okay, I think there could be lots of starting point. First, maybe something is always like a retention, maybe you want to hire new people, so new people start to explore the ideas, represent the leadership, and leadership started picking up the opportunity. It could be also the leadership itself, maybe they start to change the rest of the company. They know maybe selling boxes is going to be very challenging in the future because everyone could sell similar products, just different colors, different maybe physical appearance but whatever is the same CPU, same memory, same hard drive.
Jimmy Auw: That doesn’t make a difference except the brand itself and the logo and maybe some color thinking. So there could be a lot of starting points. But I really think that there could be somewhere that a company need to start. Of course, the starting point could be very different, it depends on the company itself. But once the trigger is there and if you started maybe from the team, from the employee or from some new hire that tried to propose the idea and it start to be picked up by the rest of the team member, then I think that could start getting bigger and bigger.
Jimmy Auw: But of course, you always need support from the people around you, assuming that you’re starting from somewhere inside the company. And then make sure that it can be amplified once the team or the people could show some result, then people will say, “Oh, somehow it’s working, maybe in the past we never thought someone could do it” But once the team start to show the result… Sometime I heard in some company the leadership itself might not be supporting because maybe some of them are quite traditional, it is okay, I’m just selling boxes, I don’t really care about that.
Jimmy Auw: But maybe once this has being presented and being amplified and the people have to see oh, amazing, right, we never thought we could do things like this, that may be the start to become bigger and bigger then the company will start to pick up. I believe they could a lot of starting point but the key thing is definitely the company, the executive, the leaders must support that. Otherwise, you can easily say, it’s not our bread and butter, so we’re not going to be doing that. So that will be a big challenge.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, you’re absolutely right that whether the catalyst for the change happens from the top down or from the bottom up, you have to have that executive support. And I think that’s because this isn’t a transformation that can happen in a vacuum or in a department, it’s something that you have to have that company wide alignment on or you’re just not going to make the progress you need to make. You could have someone that really spearheads the effort and articulates the business case and is very passionate about it that brings it to leadership but ultimately, they have to be supportive of that effort, that makes sense.
Sarah Nicastro: The other thing I wanted to go back to is the group you mentioned, remind me the name again, the services group, what was the first part?
Jimmy Auw: SSG, Solution and Services Group.
Sarah Nicastro: Solution and Services Group, yeah. I see more and more of that, of companies introducing a dedicated team, group, function to really take the lead on this. And I think it’s you know Madhu from Abbott, who is in the group that we’re a part of, she was on the podcast and we had a whole conversation around what’s the best organizational structure for service transformation. And you can argue different ways, but I think that particularly for very large companies and particularly for companies that have that really deep rich history and product, I think the idea of this dedicated team to really get it off the ground is a very smart one.
Sarah Nicastro: Because the folks that are in roles still have to focus on the day to day, so until you get this new go to market in place and until you start to make traction with the customers and the teams, there’s still a business to be run and expecting someone to do both of those things is really hard. So I think this idea of, no I’m not saying it’s an easy job, when you have a new function like that in the business and of, course you’re going to have people that are resistant to the ideas, I’m sure it’s not a walk in the park.
Sarah Nicastro: But I think that from Lenovo’s perspective, being strategic about creating that group to really drive this, I think you will get better progress that way than if you tried to do it in the existing structure.
Jimmy Auw: Yeah.
Sarah Nicastro: What do you think about that?
Jimmy Auw: Yeah, I completely agree with that. Definitely that is the right thing to do. And I think you are also quite familiar when we typically think or see sales person and services person, they tend to be very different. The salespeople are very outspoken, they easygoing so they can easily catch up and mingle with people. But services, they tend to be more introvert, maybe not more, maybe it’s just my assumption but it’s two different type of people. But now we need to sell services, so you need someone that can come with both style. You need to be outspoken, you need to meet people, but at the same time you need to understand how to sell the services.
Jimmy Auw: So definitely, there could be a challenge but I think it’s a matter of how you find the right people, how you continuously giving the right training, right education and combine with a good success story. People will get the confidence, maybe in the past the services tend to be very introvert but now they’ve meet a lot of people now, they start to see some engagement so they can be more proactive. Same as a salesperson, they learn about services, they understand, hmm this is also quite interesting, but they can easily talk about services, settle the customers, always bring the conversation about services when they meet the customers.
Jimmy Auw: We also took quite some time in this few years to start this collaboration but luckily, because we also have a great team inside, so those transformation was not the difficult part, for sure.
Sarah Nicastro: Mn-hmm(affirmative)
Jimmy Auw: So I understand. I mean, if you’re not getting the right person and the team itself may be not so flexible, you will see some, like you said earlier, some resistance, some people saying it’s not my cup of tea, I don’t know how to sell services. So if they don’t really learn and have intention to improve, that will be challenge.
Sarah Nicastro: Going back to the first point we made, a lot of it is just mindset. And I think that people’s mindsets can change when they understand new insights. We talked at the beginning about the fact that just historically, service is an afterthought to sales, it just hasn’t been their job to sell service, it’s been their job to sell hardware. And so if you have this team that can help them understand no, no, no, here is why you should care, here is how this can help you sell more, here’s why this is the future of the business, maybe not 100% but a good amount of those people may very well be excited about that and get on board and get behind it.
Sarah Nicastro: And it is interesting, the conversation around the need that exists not just at Lenovo, in every company that’s on this journey to upscale and rescale talent. And then also, what new positions, new roles, new skill sets, do you need to bring into the business related to this change? It’s a really interesting conversation.
Jimmy Auw: I agree.
Sarah Nicastro: One of the other things we talked about before, Jimmy is the idea that if you want to focus on growing service revenue, you have to be careful not to cannibalize your own ability to do that by over servicing. So let’s talk a little bit about what you mean by that.
Jimmy Auw: Yeah, I think when you start to make clear products, you need to really understand what will be your customers, that’s when you design a product. But when you design a solution services, you need to understand what your customers need. It could be in the past you were giving everything for free, actually not for free because there’s no sense of free lunch, we know that. So there’s always be the cost being factoring inside your products. It could be some customers, they don’t need all the basic features that you already incorporate inside the pricing. So I think by doing more upsell, we can really customize the solution to our customers.
Jimmy Auw: It’s not about always getting more money from customers but it also can let go some of the solution that they don’t need. Of course we keep upselling, the sales will not be letting go business with the upsell, but it’s more like we are selling the right thing to them instead of okay we give this package for you at a single price, but then the customer will say I don’t need these things but I need this things, but they are still paying the same amount but they’re getting what they need.
Jimmy Auw: By doing so we need to make sure that we are not cannibalizing our own because maybe some customer will be thinking in the past these things is always for free, but actually the customer maybe they just don’t know what we have inside the costs, maybe they’re just paying up front, they thought it’s all free, whatever they ask is for free, but we need to make sure that we give what they need and those things that we are selling is cannibalizing our own basic operation or the service function that we are selling to them.
Sarah Nicastro: Mn-hmm (affirmative).
Jimmy Auw: Maybe in some country definitely customer expecting very high level means that everything must be free because that is the standard. So once we downgrade some of it customer will feel oh, why you are downgrading my services? I think it’s not about downgrading but it could be we have more detail on what you can buy or what you can decide not to buy. Maybe if you have a big country with different cities, in the past maybe give some single price for every city. But now if they realize I have more machines in a certain location, can you give me better pricing for that? Maybe you can give me other pricing for the remote location, something like that. Good customer service.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, that makes sense. This becomes a big challenge when you look at organizations that are trying to move toward more advanced services, more service contracts offering more outcomes based service because as you begin that journey, it’s almost like when you’re introducing some of the functionality that enables you to do that, it seems there’s a period of time where you’re not quite ready to charge for it. You’re getting your bearings, and then all of a sudden you want to introduce these new offerings and your customers are saying, “Hey, wait a minute why are you charging me for this now?” It does take some thought to think about what are the best? Is it tiered offerings? Or is it completely customized customer to customer? or what that looks like.
Sarah Nicastro: But this is an area of frustration for a lot of folks. I think this idea around we’ve made these improvements. When you think about things like Internet of Things and remote monitoring and remote resolution and people put these technologies in place to allow that functionality, and then get a little bit stuck on how they monetize that functionality. And another maybe topic of conversation is you can’t look at this idea of incrementally improving functionality and then trying to just incrementally charge more along the way.
Sarah Nicastro: The way I look at that is you’re on your own agenda, you’re adding functionality and just trying to incrementally increase the revenue you’re making simply because you have an objective to grow your service revenue. And that is the objective but the companies that are having more success doing that are stepping back from those incremental changes or those internal metrics and they’re really going back to what are the customer pain points and what do we do to solve those? And then looking at whether it’s custom offerings or more standard offerings but tied back to the customer needs. Does that make sense?
Jimmy Auw: Yes, I think the first thing is always right. I mean, every company wants to sell, want to gain more revenue, more profit, but we should not always use that as a starting point. Of course, first is you need to understand what is the customer pain point, what they need. Maybe now when we are talking about everything remote, first is security, the rest maybe is example. When you’re talking about your remote working, you need to bolster your security.
Jimmy Auw: That could be one pain point that customer may think, now I know everyone’s working from home, they’re computer may be accessed by anyone so how do I ensure safety is not compromised? And so when we start with that we can see okay, maybe we have some solution, some VPN, some other application that can help you, that could be the starting point how the team will start thinking about the solution.
Jimmy Auw: Of course, it’s always chargeable but something that not always about we want to get every single penny from customers. Of course, again, nothing is free but we need to start from when customer is thinking, what’s in it for me, I’m paying this okay, what will I get? Okay, maybe they will think it’s expensive or it’s not expensive, but the values could be different. Maybe if you’re talking about security to small business, they might think I don’t need that.
Jimmy Auw: But when we talk to the medium sized company, it’s everything about security. So again, I cannot be more transparent than this. Everyone will definitely be happy with more revenue but I don’t think that should be the starting point, because when you talk about services it’s about trust. You’re not just trying to get money from the customers but how you can become a good advisor for the customer, every time they have some problem will come to you.
Jimmy Auw: And you’re not always about the money or charging them or something, give them solution, some feedback, some idea, we can always try first if they fit the requirement. So I think that could be avoided when you can work the relationship better where they have more things to learn or to understand, they can always come to our team, okay. I trust you because it’s not about the money but how you can help me running my business better. I think this will be the right starting point when we engage the customers.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. When done well, it’s really a mutually beneficial value proposition. I mean, the companies that are doing this well, they are increasing revenue but they’re doing it by helping their customers. And when you can figure out that right alignment, I mean, it really, really is cool to see how it comes together.
Sarah Nicastro: On the flip side, I’ve talked to people that say, “Well, I’m just really frustrated, because we invested in IoT, and nobody wants to buy it.” And it’s like, well, no, they don’t want to buy it, because why would they care about IoT? They might not even know what IoT is.
Sarah Nicastro: So what value is it providing to them? And I think that goes back to one of the points we touched on earlier, which is the criticality of really talented sales individuals having these conversations to be able to dig in and identify those customer need and look at how you align value and create a go to market. You might need new people doing that than but just the people that are used to selling just the boxes. It’s an interesting thing, it’s like what comes first, the chicken or the egg?
Jimmy Auw: I mean, this thing is like an art. Leadership, managerial things, is always an art, there’s no single way to get the job done. I’m not a believer that by reading book or by copying someone’s style that always drive the same result because there’s always a difference in the company culture, in the people who are managing, their maturity, the job scope. So you might need to be more flexible. Of course, like you said, developing the team. And then next to it is how to retain them, once you have develop them, they’re doing good, okay, maybe other company be, okay, I want to copy the same, I just hired those guys.
Jimmy Auw: I think that could be a great short cut. But again, how we as leaders need to retain those people to make sure people feel comfortable working with us, they keep innovating, want to contributes to the company, that will be an honor, at least for myself. And there’s no single answer how to do that. You need to be more flexible, maybe with employee, A employee B, you might need to have a different style, but that’s something you can avoid, but it’s always challenging people are moving out, they feel okay, I’ve done enough in this company, I want to explore something more.
Jimmy Auw: So there’s something that the company likely again, will not let off. We have this culture, we allow people to move between organization, between functions. We prefer them to stay in the company in many very different role rather than they move out because we trust Lenovo and we really consider people, employee as something that is really important.
Sarah Nicastro: Mn-hmm(affirmative).
Jimmy Auw: Yeah, that’s something I think, very interesting to share because there’s no single answer for such problem.
Sarah Nicastro: Right. Another thing we talked about is this idea of needing to create greater appeal for new talent. We talked a little bit earlier about the fact that the service role is really changing, it can’t just be that more introverted show up, fix something, and I’m on my way type persona, it needs to be a different type of experience. And there’s also, I think some perceptions around service and field service and what that means, and are those appealing career paths? And things like that.
Sarah Nicastro: What are your thoughts around, as both the skill sets needed evolve and mature and then also a lot of existing talent ages out of the workforce, what’s your thoughts on how we make service and this industry appealing for new folks?
Jimmy Auw: Okay, interesting question. Maybe it’s just me, but if I recall back during the young age, services might not be something in the top of the mind for a student in the university. Maybe they want to become a doctor an engineer, a pilot, scientists, all of them think about these services. The people who work in the hospitality industry, they’re not really like the majority of the people, and I’m not saying they are not successful in the other industry but some of them are really thinking about, hey, I want to do these things.
Jimmy Auw: Especially when you see in some countries, I believe, people working as an engineer on the ground might not have the higher rank, and maybe be different in Europe or US from an Asian country. So people working on the ground as a field engineer might not be something that’s quite prestigious for some people. I mean, that’s not totally right but also not totally wrong, it’s about what will be the main interest, right? People always have their own aspiration.
Jimmy Auw: So of course, by seeing the changing in trend, I think we need to start really seeing who is the right candidate? Some companies start to look for a trainee right from the university, they try to educate him since the service industry you can meet a lot of people, you can selling being solution and the bigger picture of the services. So it’s not about you do a break and fix, you come to the customer side, fix the machine, you’re being paid for the labor, I think the scope will not be small thing anymore. But of course, some people still think, okay, I becoming an engineer, I need to go to the customer side, we’ll break and fix, go back, meet another customer.
Jimmy Auw: So the scope maybe, I don’t know, I feel this will in the most of people mindset, right? And then we start looking to university, we give some in the job training to some interested students, so we try to give them a bigger view of what services, not about you fixing a machine anymore but how you can sell solution, how you can learn new technology earlier than anyone in this industry, And how you can contribute more to the company.
Sarah Nicastro: Mn-hmm (affirmative).
Jimmy Auw: Maybe we start with some education to the university student, trying to get some good talent, they can do the on the job training, once they graduate, they can stop being shortlisted prior to starting a career in a corporate life. And the same time, I think we also need to look for some knowledge sharing from the experienced people in a webinar, at a event to share what actually the service industry insight, what about again doing a small thing, there’s something called after sales, it can be a starting point for someone to make a new business or new or a new product.
Sarah Nicastro: And also, what do they like about it? And how has it provided for them? And what has their career path been? Things like that. You could even do an ad campaign out of that, that you use for recruiting. I think those are some good points and a couple others that you mentioned earlier. One is flexibility, so just thinking about not only how you’re flexible with employees but as the role changes, as the industry changes, what words are you using in your job descriptions? And what picture are you painting with what that looks like? And what parts are you playing up that might appeal to some of the folks that haven’t thought about service as a career or don’t even know that it’s an option.
Sarah Nicastro: And I think the other thing, like you said, within Lenovo you’d rather them stay and move to different positions within the company, I think, more and more starting a role with some idea of growth potential, and what that career trajectory could look like is really important to folks. So thinking ahead about how you articulate from the beginning that there is a lot of opportunity within the company for them is another really smart point.
Jimmy Auw: Yes.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah. So, here’s another area I want to make sure we talk about because this is a tough one. This whole conversation is centered around this idea of service becoming a profit center and all of the potential that that exists there. But to do that, you have to innovate, you have to transform, and that requires investment. And so this is where it can get tricky because you can have these leaders that say, “Okay, great, there’s a big opportunity here, go make it happen.” And then you say good, well, we just need to do X, And then it’s like, whoa, whoa. How do you strike that balance between not continually looking service as an opportunity to cut costs and looking at obviously managing costs, but making some intelligent investments in the ability to evolve and grow.
Jimmy Auw: Okay, so again, the question will have a myriad of answer.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah.
Jimmy Auw: Because, again, it’s more in and out rather than the single answer. But I will say, of course, at very beginning it’s not easy to convince the leadership, the executives to support your investment. But luckily, we understand that we have shown that good traction, good result. So at the end of the day, when the company got confidence in the team, it will not be that difficult to gain investment. And of course, they trust it’s going to be giving a good return. I will say there will be no single answer for that, but in general, it’s more on how the team could innovate this? Something usually they got from meeting more customers, understanding the industry trend so they can start with something.
Jimmy Auw: And of course, when it comes to certain investment level, it may require more approval level, but normally when the thing is getting bigger, then people will always see return of investment, this will be the nature of the investment. But I will say it’s not really a single answer to that, you’re right is very tricky but it’s more on the scope of the business itself and just about if you are investing a certain the amount the scope will be certain size, then you need to convince more people in the supportive level to support your project.
Jimmy Auw: But in general is always when you start with something and you could show really clear benefit for the company and it is allowing industry trends, normally, it won’t be a big issue for the leaders to give a green light to the project itself but it’s not easy to share how we can get them convinced but it just naturally flows. The bigger size of the innovation might definitely require bigger different investment and even approval level, but it’s just naturally flowing like that. Maybe some level they just give a go ahead because it’s a small investment but when you’re going bigger and bigger, you just need to talk with more people, convince more people.
Jimmy Auw: It takes months, sometimes years to get started, because sometimes we need regulatory approval, legal approval, country approval. So just about the size, the scope and the coverage, that just might be the nature of the green light of the project itself.
Sarah Nicastro: Mn-hmm (affirmative).
Jimmy Auw: I think that’s something not easy to explain to be honest.
Sarah Nicastro: Yeah, some of the points that I took from there, one would be look for industry context. If you can show examples of how others are benefiting from similar investments, that type of research and information is helpful. The second thing is where you’re able, start small and build momentum. So if there are certain areas that are either small or you are very confident in, start there so that you can show those successes because once you get that initial success, then going back and saying, “Okay, I did this, now you can trust me to do this next bigger thing.” You’re going to have better success that way.
Sarah Nicastro: That makes sense, and I think the third point is just, if it is something bigger that could require months, years… I did a podcast a few weeks ago with a gentleman from Schneider Electric Australia and the one thing he said is he just had to be tenacious, he just had to not accept no and continue to push because he was very confident in the opportunity and he just needed to win over enough minds to be able to move forward. He said, “It might have been easier for me to just give up, but I just wasn’t going to.” So that’s the other thing, if it’s something you’re passionate about, just keep on it.
Sarah Nicastro: All right, last question for today Jimmy, two parts, what’s the biggest lesson you would say you’ve learned as a service leader? And then part two is what are you most excited about looking to the future?
Jimmy Auw: Okay, let me start with the first one, the biggest lesson. I’m a believer in people, I think find the right people, you can connect and align with them, this will be very important. I’m not saying you need to have all the same people around you, that’s not the idea but the key thing is you need to have the right people around you. They could always be the one challenging you, finding your blind spot, that should be fine. I’m not expecting people to say yes to all of my instructions, so I need to find the right people in the organization and a make sure they have the right mindset and right attitude.
Jimmy Auw: I mean, if you’re working with people all having their own thinking, and that’s okay but in terms of strategy, vision, aspiration, they should be carrying a similar agreement before we can move on. But as a team, they can be aggressive, they can be conservative, that’s fine. People always say yes, that’s also not good.
Sarah Nicastro: So you’re not looking for the same people, you’re looking for good people, but what would you characterize as the common traits?
Jimmy Auw: Okay, it’s more on they need to be a fit for the role that I’m looking for.
Sarah Nicastro: Okay.
Jimmy Auw: Maybe as a sales they have to be a bit outspoken, but when you’re looking for technical, they have to be very detailed in how to give a solution. And maybe if you need someone to become your right hand, he or she needs to be proactive, challenging you giving you some insight, this is what I say is the right people. Same style, because again if you have all people the same style then you always go to the same angle so that is definitely not something, at least for my personal view, I’m not doing things like that.
Jimmy Auw: I prefer to find the right people and the right roles so they can contribute to the company with their own style, but they will carry the same mindset, same attitude, in terms of how we agree on the goal and the future then we can move forward together as a team, they can contribute themselves inside the bigger ship as a company.
Jimmy Auw: The third, my view is you need to have the right strategy, this is very important because if people are thinking with their own and they don’t have something they need to carry together, it will become things and also structure. So I really think as a leader you need to have the right strategy coming top down from the company, but the manager or the leader can cascade down a bit based on the organization itself. And the fourth one, again you need to have a control point. If anyone said central strategy, right people strategy everything you need to make sure you have the right control point.
Jimmy Auw: So make sure that whatever we agree, whatever we decide earlier, we need to make sure we execute. Otherwise, it’s just okay, people are happy do but no one knows what they’re doing. Maybe they can do at the end of the day, but if they’re not doing constantly the things will move, from my own view can be a bit slower. So checkpoint for me again, is very important. It’s not about not trusting the team, but to give them the sense of ownership, it’s your responsibility you get paid, so I want to see your delivery. And last but not least, we can look back once we complete the whole cycle.
Sarah Nicastro: Mn-hmm(affirmative)
Jimmy Auw: We have understand, okay, we did great this year, but what we overlook? Maybe opportunities, some low line that we can learn for future to make our own strategy? Or maybe they are good story we can share. Again, as leader, I also have my own leaders, my other manager, so I also can share to him or to her, this is the key learning point from my region last year. So either he or she could copy or quote, share to the other bigger picture for a bigger region for the overall company or maybe there are some feedback that he or she will give to me.
Jimmy Auw: “Okay, Jimmy, I think you did something but you can try this area.” Maybe he or she share from the other region, full end to end things that biggest learn for me and I will try my best to keep doing that because I believe that could be something can make a great success as leaders manager and as for the company itself.
Sarah Nicastro: Good. Okay, and what are you most excited about?
Jimmy Auw: I’m excited about new challenges. I mean, sometime when you see new technology, new idea, new opportunity, that makes me excited because I feel challenged, I like to set the challenge. Not about proving myself I could do but it’s for my own pleasure. I like to accept a challenge and I also like to see how it can help to grow my team. So the success sometime is not about me doing the challenge, but how I can bring my whole team to get and accept the challenge together. Everyone could grow, and when I see they are growing, some of them even moving with the company. But they are doing even better.
Sarah Nicastro: Mn-hmm (affirmative).
Jimmy Auw: That makes me happy because I feel as a manager I’ve done my job, not about achieving the goal but also to help growing my team, make them even better. So I think that’s the part of the excitement of my role and my own career things.
Sarah Nicastro: That’s why you’re the right person for the job Jimmy, because you’re excited about those challenges and you want to see that progress. I mean, that’s what it takes. I think everything we’ve talked about today requires people that are not fans of complacency and you’re ready to take on those new challenges and work through problems and fail and learn and grow. I mean, that’s what this is all about. So that makes sense. Well, thank you Jimmy so much for coming on and sharing your perspective. I appreciate it.
Jimmy Auw: Thank you. Appreciate your evening time.
Sarah Nicastro: Absolutely. You can find more content by checking us out at futureoffieldservice.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn, as well as Twitter @TheFutureOfFS. The Future of Field Service podcast is published in partnership with IFS, you can learn more at ifs.com. As always, thank you for listening.