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06 Oct 2019  (681 Views) 
Out of the box

Possible to be take leadership in an unfamiliar industry
My friend criticized industry minister Chan for trying to teach businessmen how to expand their business overseas, when he did not have any experience in running a company.

He also criticized the appointment of two army generals to run the SMRT and NOL without any industry experience. They did a poor job.

I told him that Louis Gertsner took over IBM in 1993 without any prior experience in the computer industry. He did a good job in transforming IBM successfully.

So, it is not a matter of prior experience but in the leadership style. 

I wish to share my personal experience. 

When I took over NTUC Income in 1977, I did not have the essential qualifications for that job, namely:

a) I was not familiar with the trade union movement which owned the cooperative
b) I had not managed a large company before
c) I have not managed a sales force before.

Although I have knowledge of the life insurance business, it does not sufficiently equip me to run a big cooperative.

I adopted the following strategy to meet the challenges:

a) I listened to the colleagues who have experience with the trade union movement and in managing a sales force. We worked together to agree on the management decisions.

b) I adopted a strategy to be lean, efficient and low cost. This helped us to meet and win in the competitive market. 

c) I am hands-on and in touch with the workers and the customers. 

In other words, I did not run the cooperative in an arrogant manner and did not make decision on my own and from the ivory tower. 

That strategy worked. I was able to build up the business and grew it tremendously.

It is possible for a leader to take charge of a large business in an unfamiliar industry, but they have to adopt the right approach.

Ministers and army generals - I hope you are listening. 

Tan Kin Lian 

Vote - do you agree with my strategy?


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