After years working for different companies around the world, Mo Perwaiz accepted the job of GM at Airtech Asia in China in 2007. Having worked in 11 countries, Mo says that each nation has a system based on people loving their culture and that, as a leader, you must be able to adapt to that.
“You must respect the culture,” he adds. “I realised this is one of the best things you can do when you work in a different environment. Understanding the local culture is so important to create a relationship between the team and myself.”
Airtech Asia, a division of Airtech Advanced Materials Group, is the world’s largest manufacturer of vacuum bagging and composite tooling materials for the aerospace, wind power, automotive, marine and general composites industries.
When it comes to leading a company in another country, Mo believes that working cross-culturally thrives when you learn the local language. As well as this, you must strive for improvement. “It’s impossible to adjust the culture of every country, but as long as there is improvement, you will create a good team,” he explains.
Mo’s team is a diverse group of people who represent the globe. “We have a great mix of people,” he says. “I always hire a team of people that are experts in their area, but where I am not an expert.”
His focus is always to understand the culture of the country and create a well-trained team around him. “Training is critical,” he says. “Just like in a moulding, where you use tools to create something, you must create excellent moulding based on your company requirements, your product requirements, and each product is different.
“People are number one for me. You must have the right people to succeed,” he says. “We hire experienced people, but we still feel it is imperative to retrain. We do training, no matter where the person has come from, for three to six months.”
The company holds monthly meetings with staff to discuss innovation and new ideas. “We talk to people about their department and product improvement,” Mo says. “To me, no suggestion is a bad suggestion. It’s just another way to stay on top of our services to the customer.”
“People are number one for me. you must have the right people.”
Of course, once the company finishes training its people, it eyes the customer. “We are a completely customer-focused company and we try to understand customer needs,”
Mo explains. “We don’t impose our needs or preferences on the customer. We listen to them and provide the applicable services.”
Airtech also ensures it stays at the forefront of processes and procedures and what’s happening in its field. “We must be on top of the changes in the industry and product lines,” Mo says. “Research and development and innovation are critical, especially with our products used in the aerospace sector.”
After his time spent working in Germany at Mark Control, Mo learned that quality should be the priority. “There is no compromise on quality,” he states. “Going to Germany from the United States was a complete cultural change for me. I learned so much and it was one of the best years of my life to change my attitude. There should never be a compromise on safety and quality.”
Another goal for the company is to focus on the environment and profitability. “We must be serious in improving the environment,” he says. “Of course, at the end of the day, we must keep our organisation profitable, because if we are not profitable, the game is over.”
Since the company is making money, it feels it should also contribute to society. In this case, Airtech focuses on education. “I give free lectures to different universities,” Mo says.
“I’m a professor for International Management in the MBA classes. We sponsor many local Chinese students, even though we don’t have to. We find students in Tianjin and assist them in further education.”
“There should never be a compromise on safety and quality.”
Whether 70 or 20 years old, everyone is welcome to join the team at Airtech. Mo sees the benefit of hiring older people for their life experience and wisdom and younger people for a fresh perspective.
“Every year, I hire two or three management trainees, fresh from university, and then we train them from scratch,” he says. “That system is working very well for us because they bring fresh minds and with them new ideas.”
Mo believes that, above all, caring about people makes his team succeed. “We are on the same track,” he says. “They know where to go, what to do and how to act. To Airtech, the number one thing in our management style is people. We have to be caring and loving to our people. Only then will they make impossible things possible.”
Proudly supported by: