KH Khoo has been the General Manager of international manufacturer of ceramic and tantalum capacitors AVX Kyocera Singapore for 28 years. What has kept Khoo engaged all these years is the people and the travel. “Every day is different,” he enthuses. “I travel often and meet people from different countries. It’s important to learn how to work with them – internal and external customers as well as the direct reports.”
Khoo joined the company in 1992 and, since then, AVX has made several strategic acquisitions that allowed it to expand its portfolio to other technologies, including but not limited to RF/Microwave, Antennas, Automotive Mechatronics, and Sensors and Controls.
These investments pushed AVX to develop not only new products but also new processes to help manufacture products efficiently and reliably for customers. “We also work with our customers to develop road maps for future products, with a focus on providing the performance they need from our components as well as meeting their cost objectives,” Khoo says.
Another reason to keep expanding is that, unlike in the past, there is now increasing competition in the field of ceramic and tantalum capacitors manufacturing. “Before, we were number one and now there are so many newcomers in Asia. We have to figure out how to compete with all these new manufacturers,” Khoo explains. This leads him to share another challenge he faces: addressing different cultures and people’s behaviour.
“One of the big things for me always, is how I am going to handle different cultures. When you’re in Japan, Japanese manufacturers have a different way of doing things – when you are in Korea, the same thing,” he says.
“One of the biggest challenges we have to overcome is figuring out how to work with cultural issues across Asian regions in terms of global economic issues, international relationships and trade relationships.”
Essentially, it’s about being tactful when handling sensitive issues, as people treat concerns differently across different regions, explains Khoo. AVX has no debt, which gives it flexibility to do what it wants.
“That’s why we are always working to develop new programs, processes, systems and to make sure that our product fits with the new technology,” he says. “Also, we have a system that enables us to manage customer requests. These are the things we are doing to make sure we can stand out among other competitors.”
Further, Khoo emphasises the importance of staying innovative and creative because if you don’t, then your company will inevitably die. “To have a future, we have to invest in R&D. In some cases, we also collaborate with local universities by providing them with equipment and labs to aid in the development of next generation technology,” he says.
The company is also preparing to invest in training staff to make sure they are ready for new challenges. When asked what he is most proud of, Khoo says: “I always say to my people, ‘If the company didn’t treat us well then how could I have worked here for 28 years?’ Some people have been with me for almost 20 years and, as I edge closer to retirement, most of them want me to stay at the company to achieve goals that AVX’s senior management team has set.”
“I always say to my people, ‘If the company didn’t treat us well then how could I have worked here for 28 years?’”
Additionally, Khoo praises the company’s ability to provide equal opportunities for all staff who prove their capability. “We don’t care where you’re from, but if you are good, we give you a chance for promotion.”
The company also shows concern for their employees to try and help them. The other element of importance is the willingness to listen to AVX partners and distributors. Khoo adds, “These are the things that we are doing in order to be successful.”
“We need to listen to what the customer needs from us, because when you listen that’s when the customer trusts you.”
After a long career in the field – of which 28 years has been with AVX – Khoo believes the one main objective of success is trust. “We need to listen to what the customer needs from us, because when you listen that’s when the customer trusts you. We have a lot of distributors working with us and we are successful because they believe we are doing the best for them. The word trust is very important.”
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