What’s Next for Businesses: An Interview with Andrew Koh, Vice President and Head of Singapore Operations Group, Canon Singapore
As companies look ahead and reimagine how and where work will be done after the pandemic, many have made the transition to embrace hybrid working as the future of work. So, what does the future hold for businesses in these challenging times?
We speak to Mr Andrew Koh, Vice President and Head of Singapore Operations Group, Canon Singapore, on his experience following his recent return from overseas postings alongside thoughts on the future of hybrid work trends and more.
I joined Canon Marketing Services in 1997 as a department manager for the microfilm business and was transferred to the inkjet printer business shortly after. My first opportunity for an overseas posting came in 2013 where I was seconded to Canon India for the camera business, and subsequently the printer business. My second posting came in 2016 where I was posted to Canon Marketing Malaysia as its President and CEO until the end of 2021. Thereafter, I returned to Canon Singapore early this year.
The nine years of overseas posting was a very rewarding experience. However, the biggest reward was the opportunity and ability to see things from a different perspective. I was able to experience different cultures, try various foods, explore new places, take on fresh adventures and make new friends. It helped me to better appreciate the different cultures and working styles of different countries. It was important for me to change to suit the culture, instead of trying to change the culture to suit myself. Having an open mind and not being so fixated on the old ways revealed a whole new world of possibilities to me.
Something interesting did happen on my visit to the State of Nagaland in northeast India. Whenever we encountered roadblocks, the police would only ask for identification papers from my Canon India colleagues but not me because of my resemblance to the locals!
There was also the perceived rivalry between Malaysian and Singaporean food, so whenever I revealed myself as a Singaporean in Malaysia, I would be asked which country has better food. While I really enjoyed the wide variety of street food that Malaysia had to offer, there were some Singaporean foods that were hard to find there. This made me appreciate the diversity of both food cultures and offerings, and I count myself very lucky because I get to enjoy great food from both sides!
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a permanent shift in how we used to work. For many businesses, the limitation on physical interactions due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant there was a need to seek out different ways to conduct the same work processes in an efficient manner. Over the past two years, we can safely say most businesses in our regions have made the switch to hybrid working. This pivot from in-office to remote work had its own initial challenges but also brought some positives such as improved employee satisfaction, increased productivity and lowered production costs for many. These are definitely key factors that have helped businesses to survive and thrive in these trying times.
Before the pandemic, not many businesses would have considered running their operations remotely. However, as we are forced to adapt to the changes, I consider it a blessing in disguise. This has helped us to see greater possibilities and flexibilities in the way we run our businesses and actualise them. In the long run, this helps businesses build their resilience to ride out any storms in the future.
The way we work is changing and adapting to new processes and ways of working can be challenging to some. “Just try, won’t die” is one of my favourite mantras to remind myself not to be fearful, but rather challenge myself to strive for greater opportunities. When we approach everything with an open mind, we embrace new experiences and explore potentials we would never have imagined were possible.
Now, looking back as we move forward, I see the implementation of digital solutions in hybrid workplaces as crucial for success. A business with a well-designed digital workplace can help to connect employees, teams and customers in more ways than one, fostering collaboration, productivity and growth.
I believe the future of work is hybrid, and the time for change is now.