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Precision making: Chris Lee

Every day around the world, tens of thousands of professionals rely on Hexagon-owned Leica Geosystems’ instruments and software to do their jobs with precision. These people work in a diverse range of industries, including surveying and engineering, –building and heavy construction, and safety and security.

Chris Lee, Asia President of Leica Geosystems

Hexagon Geosystems Asia President Chris Lee says he and his team feel privileged that professionals have so much faith in the accuracy of their geospatial solutions.

“The customers who use our technology trust their careers to our instruments,” he says. “We have a true partnership with them and a commitment to ensure this equipment continues to serve them well.”

“The customers who use our technology trust their careers to our instruments.”

Of course, it’s not only their careers that are on the line, but also their lives and those of others. Chris doesn’t take this responsibility lightly. “This is why it has to be right,” he stresses. “With so much at stake, accuracy is essential.”

After starting out in a small Swiss town nearly 200 years ago, the company has grown to become a global enterprise serving customers in 150 countries and employing more than 4,500 people.

Acquired by Swedish tech giant Hexagon in 2005, Leica Geosystems is now a world leader in spatial measurement and prides itself on creating innovative technologies, developing outstanding products and delivering exceptional customer service.

Chris says a commitment to innovation is embedded in Leica Geosystems’ DNA. “If you don’t innovate, you won’t be able to survive,” he points out.

“We have been innovating since the very beginning. So we are not just inspired by where the industry is today, but also where we are going to be tomorrow. Leica Geosystems is committed to providing innovation through our products, but we also need to ensure that we are continuously improving ourselves to be more customer focused. We believe that customer success is paramount to our own.”

Since joining the company’s Singapore office at the start of this year, Chris reveals he’s had a steep learning curve. “I’ve only been here for six months, but it feels like I’ve been here for years,” he says, laughing.

“The intensity of the learning process is incredible. In the past 90 days, I was only in Singapore for about 20 days. My wife and kids started to ask me if it was going to be like that for the rest of my career here!”

“I love watching my team make progress in their careers.”

Life is certainly busier than ever for Chris, who admits he struggles to spend enough quality time with his family. “My wife and I have four boys, aged 17, 16, 12 and seven. My wife is my CEO – she manages everything at home. I try to balance my personal and professional lives without allowing one to encroach on the other, but I do travel a lot for work and I spend more than 60 to 70% of my time on my career,” he concedes.

Chris Lee, Asia President of Leica Geosystems

Although Chris wishes he had more time to spend with this family, they’re a constant source of inspiration and motivation for him. “I think everyone has his or her own motivation,” he says.

“For me, I draw my motivation from people. My wife and boys keep me motivated, but also the people I work with. I love watching my team make progress in their careers.

“In the past, I’ve been the beneficiary of coaching by very experienced leaders. So I want to do everything I can to make sure I can pass that knowledge on to the new leaders who join our organisation. Some take it relatively well, while others say it’s a bit challenging to get coaching from the boss, but I think it’s very important.”

According to Chris, Leica Geosystems’ talented team is one of the reasons behind its success. “We have a diverse range of ages and nationalities working for us,” he explains.

“We have a balance of experience and youth that continues to fuel our innovation as a company.”

“For example, we have about six or seven different nationalities in our Japan office alone. The age gap is also quite significant in our teams – we have very young people working for us, as well as very experienced people who have served us for many years. I recently met a factory operator who has been with us for more than 40 years. That’s the strength of the company. We have a balance of experience and youth that continues to fuel our innovation as a company. Diversity is one of the critical success factors for our continuous transformation.”

Chris on work-life balance:

“I find getting this balance right is very challenging, but the simplicity of life helps me to recalibrate and understand that family is as important as work. So taking a walk with my wife on the weekend, attending to my garden with my wife and harvesting fruit and vegetables that we grow together, and hanging out with the kids when I get home – these are the things that allow me to achieve better balance and get some sanity back to my life.”

Chris also attributes the company’s success to its strong relationships with its local suppliers. “We have partners in the Asia region that have been working with us for a very long time – in some cases more than 30 years,” he says. “Leica Geosystems has had a manufacturing facility in Singapore for more than 50 years.

“While we do have some sensitive technology that has to be imported from Switzerland, the local suppliers that we use certainly boost our profitability. The quality of suppliers here is extremely high, and production costs can be reduced by 20% if we have capable partners within the region to supply the parts. This is why Singapore is so competitive as a regional hub. While we’re not cheap, we are actually very good in quality.”

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