In a world where everyone strives to find a fast-track way to the top, Vincent Low took the unconventional route and ploughed his way to success. After almost 24 years in the office automation business, he is now Director and General Manager at Canon and heads its Business Imaging Solutions division in the Singapore market — no mean feat, even for a veteran of the business world. Here, he shares his insights on the future of the Singapore’s Business Imaging Solutions division and his daily motivations in life.
I was working in the office automation industry for close to 24 years, starting right from the bottom as a door-to-door sales person. Following my sales stint, I spent 10 years in marketing and another 8 years leading a sales operation.
Less than a year ago, I joined the Canon family and am currently overseeing the multi-function and B2B business for marketing. My responsibilities include the sales and marketing for office equipment, paper and media, as well as Canon Business Services (Managed prints and outsourced services).
Human capital is our most important resource but it also happens to be very challenging. I’m in a people-based business — I look after more than 100 staff, and we need everyone to be performing at their best to gain an edge over the competition. A major challenge facing our business is locating and retaining good people and, as anybody can tell you, it is very difficult given today’s mobile workforce. In the last six months, our attrition rate has been very low so I believe we are doing things right in retaining and growing talents.
The other challenge is market-driven — the economy has not been doing great, and it looks even gloomier with recent events like the Brexit situation in Europe, together with the lower business confidence. These are external challenges but we are gearing ourselves up to find new opportunities, even in the doldrums, to meet the changing needs and expectations of our customers.
I’m an Economics major and always interested in the market forces affecting our economy. Singapore has forecasted a growth rate of less than two percent, which is challenging. The next year or so will be very tough because Singapore is an open economy, and we will certainly feel the repercussions should the market forces change drastically.
As the saying goes, there will always be opportunities in difficulties. Canon is a strong market leader in office automation. We have evolved from the traditional approach of “pushing boxes” to solution sales. We recognise the opportunities in upselling solutions and cloud services along with our hardware, which adds value to our multi-function devices. Not only does it create more value for our customers, it also helps us retain customers for a longer time, as we are no longer competing on hardware or price alone.
We have started a new initiative in providing IT services to companies who do not have their own IT team. We expect the programme to be timely for the difficult economic times and I see this as an opportunity to also train and up skill staff so that we are ready when the economy turns for the better.
I believe staff members are motivated when leaders lead by example and with empathy. It is important to set goals for staff and challenge them to grow everyday. It creates the drive and motivation to be at your best, and to go the extra mile. As a leader, if you want to create buy in, you must also touch their hearts and prove that you’re there with them.
I find motivational quotes inspiring. We have some great quotes on a wall in the office, which will be refreshed from time to time. I hope this helps motivate our team to strive to be faster, higher and stronger.
One of my key beliefs is that we rise by lifting others. No man is an island — we get better and go further as a team. I believe that no matter how far you’ve come, you can always do better and give back.
I am very much a family man. My leisure activities and weekends revolve around quality time with my family and the occasional dinner and movies dates with my wife. Just before bedtime, I do something uncharacteristic of men my age: I compete against my wife on Candy Crush (a mobile video game) for 30 minutes! A happy family is a key motivator for me to be successful in my professional life.
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