Teoh Tsu-Shien, President of Henkel Malaysia talks about how the company is preparing for the future.
Looking back, what do you consider the defining moments in your first 100 days in this position?
When I took over, my top priority during the first three months was to meet our employees at all sites, along with the local management team. Our people are our most important asset and we want to deepen our internal engagement. Together, we developed a calendar of events for 2019 with a clear commitment to hold at least one company-wide event every month. We want to encourage more interaction and dialogue between colleagues from different departments, with a focus of nurturing a strong entrepreneurial spirit, drive innovation and strengthen our leading market positions.
Considering the business you are managing, what do you regard as crucial factors for you to stay on top of your game?
It is critical that Henkel Malaysia continues to deliver profitable growth. Globally, Henkel’s vision is to be a leader with our innovations, brands and technologies. In Malaysia, we are recognised as the market leader in the adhesives business, offering the broadest portfolio of technologies for all markets and industries. We also hold leading positions in the hair care, hair colour and hair styling markets with our globally successful Schwarzkopf and Joico brands.
To strengthen our leading positions, we want to continue creating sustainable value for our customers and consumers. This requires us to be exceptional in our innovation, quality, service and sustainability. We also want to be agile and responsive to volatile markets, and changing customer and consumer demands.
Having a strong team is critical. At Henkel, we emphasise developing strong leaders at every level of the organisation and encouraging all our employees to cultivate the habit of lifelong learning.
What do you foresee are the game-changing challenges facing your industry and how do you propose to overcome them?
Our business environment is going through rapid changes due to various trends, such as globalisation and digitalisation. To address this, one of Henkel’s strategic priorities is to increase the agility of the organisation and our people. A key initiative is to promote an entrepreneurial spirit among our employees by promoting greater empowerment and openness to change. We also want to reduce our innovation lead time by better anticipating our customers and consumers’ needs.
At the same time, we have embarked on a digital transformation to optimise our work processes, further grow our businesses and develop the digital capabilities of our employees. Notably, all employees will undergo digital training and upskilling. Digital learning equips them with current digital topics, such as digital marketing opportunities and security issues, while upskilling offers learning paths for specific roles and responsibilities.
Single out a leader in the corporate world you wish to emulate.
Through the years, the leaders that inspire me are those who are understanding, approachable and supportive. At Henkel, I was fortunate to have worked with several of such leaders, who gave me the encouragement and confidence to test and prove my capabilities in various stretch projects and uncharted situations. In applying this leadership style, I found that my team members are more open, collaborative and committed to going the extra mile.
As Country President of Henkel Malaysia, what most excites and worries you?
It’s exhilarating for me to lead a highly energetic, passionate and talented team. For any organisation, talent management is always a priority and we are committed to be an employer of choice. We strongly promote diversity and inclusion, and strive for a balanced workforce in terms of gender, different generations and cultural backgrounds. This has enabled us to develop a strong talent base of local leaders, including many women in key appointments, and grow our talent pipeline.
What are your unique strategies to make Henkel Malaysia the most successful company in your industry?
With our history of more than 35 years in Malaysia, Henkel is recognised as a trusted partner in the adhesive industry and an innovation leader in the beauty care hair business. Led by our strong, entrepreneurial team, our continued focus on delivering complete and high impact solutions to our customers and consumers through our brands, technologies and innovations have placed us in a leading position.
Share with us any impactful advice you received that still inspires you today.
I have had the privilege of working with many strong superiors and mentors, who have made an impact on me with their positive behaviours. The two most important traits are: they are good listeners and very supportive. They engage in their team’s career development, help to resolve obstacles to make one’s job easier, recognise good performances and celebrate successes.
TEXT MICHAEL OH