Hiroshi Seki is president and chief operations officer of General Imaging (Asia) Co Ltd – a role that makes him responsible for driving sales and growth of the GE brand and cameras in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
As president of the imaging arm of General Electrics, Hiroshi Seki has his work cut out for him. Sure, the GE brand of digital cameras is backed by GE’s technology and branding, but it is still up to General Imaging to sell the actual product in possibly the toughest market to crack.
Regions like the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa are filled with a mix of cultures and languages which has been proven to be challenging. Even with states within a single country, there can be marked differences in consumer behaviour. The solution? Targeting individual segments. Using Singapore as an example, Seki says, “Our strategy in Singapore is segmented targeting, focusing on everyday photographers and prosumers, who are young, hip and adventurous.”
This segmentation based on lifestyles is, in his opinion, the most important way to reach his customers. Customer engagement is extremely important to tech companies these days and this can be done through a mix of social media, online information and other digital channels. They can evangelise the effectiveness of these social and digital avenues but that alone will probably take up a page on its own.
The world is currently at the tail-end of one of the worst financial crises since the 1930s. But if you analyse these tumultuous times, you realise that it’s the MNCs that bear the brunt of it. Despite that, Seki believes his bases are covered. “We focus on raising efficiencies in our operations by running a lean team that looks after key markets in terms of sales and distribution. We also are very focused in growing our strategic channel and distribution network in this region.”
Behind every successful organisation, isn’t just one woman, but a group of individuals. In this case, how you treat your staff is of utmost importance as it affects your company’s performance. He abides by the philosophy of maintaining a nurturing environment where employees have room to interact, learn from colleagues and grow is probably what makes the company run like a well-oiled machine.
But that doesn’t, mustnʼt mean people should operate like machines. In Asia, the concept that working overtime means you’re a diligent worker is widespread. Add to the fact that Seki is Japanese, we’d expect a workaholic automaton, but Seki believes there needs to be a work-life balance for its employees.
“After work, I go home to my wife and children and we have dinner together almost every night. After dinner, we catch up on one another’s lives. On weekends, we go on short trips together,” he says. His family is what balances the scales and what keeps him motivated to do what he does.
Seki on what it takes to succeed in Asia
Speed: Businesses need faster decision-making processes so as not to miss opportunities or lose its position in the market.
Challenge: For a company to keep growing, it is vital for employees to develop and improve their skills by overcoming challenges and building on their experience.
Control: Managing challenges can also be about managing risks. You have to think about the worst-case scenario then put checkpoints and contingency plans in place.