Safety, integrity, continuous improvement and teamwork
Kalmar's new VP Sales, Asia-Pacific, Daniel Ho, talks about the core values that have helped him build high-performance teams around the world, and discusses the unique challenges of starting at a new job during exceptional times.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
A: I have worked in several sales, marketing and general management positions over the past 25 years, of which the last ten years at Terex Aerial Work Platforms in Asia-Pacific. I originally graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in Singapore, and went on to a Master's degree in Applied Finance to Macquarie University, Sydney Australia. Outside work, I like to travel and do sports such as football, jogging, swimming and cycling.
Q: Why Kalmar?
A: When I was first approached by the Kalmar leadership team, I was very inspired by what they want to achieve. Kalmar has a long history with roots that extend to over a century ago, but the company is in a great position to lead the market as an intelligent cargo-handling provider today and in the future.
Kalmar's vision of focusing on terminal automation and total solutions with high added value to the customer is definitely the way to go. Kalmar has great technology and a complete overview of the terminal automation process, so together with our partners worldwide, we can deliver whatever our customers need to succeed. At Kalmar, we also have the possibility to play an important role in making the world more productive and eco-efficient, which was another very important reason for me to join the company.
Q: What do you do at Kalmar?
A: I joined Kalmar on April 1st this year as Vice President Sales Asia-Pacific. My role is to lead our APAC sales team, improve the market share of Kalmar Automation Solutions and drive revenue growth by strengthening our brand’s reputation as a global leader.
I enjoy building and growing companies and teams, and at Kalmar, I have the wonderful opportunity not only to develop the talents within my own team, but also support our customers in attaining their visions and goals. So I feel that my work is not so much about what we can do, but how we can help our customers.
I have always lived in Singapore, so for me the Asia-Pacific area is something incredibly diverse. In a way it's similar to Europe, as there is such a richness of history and different cultures. It really makes me happy to come to work every day, knowing there's a great future for Kalmar's business here in this region.
Q: How do you see our industry developing in the future?
A: In the Asia-Pacific area, there are huge differences between countries and industries. For example, Australia and New Zealand are already full of extremely advanced automated terminals, while much of Asia is far behind in automation maturity. This is actually one of the reasons that I'm very excited to join Kalmar to lead an organisation in the APAC area, as there are so many opportunities where we can help existing terminals improve their operations with remote control and incremental automation.
With new greenfield terminals, there are also many opportunities to bring in automation, but we really need to deliver an integrated automation solution with high business value to the customer. But I know that once one or two key terminals in the region demonstrate the value that they can gain from automation, it will quickly become the reference and change the way people think.
Q: What made you happy today at work?
A: Well, I have to say that this has been a rather unusual way to spend your first two months at a new job. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, I have actually only spent one day in my office at Kalmar, and have been working remotely for the rest of the time.
Our team has people in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Finland, so it's definitely been a challenge not to be able to meet with all of your colleagues or with customers. But the thing that has made me very happy is to see the great work from my team, and how we can tap into one another's skills to fulfill our goals together.
Interestingly, with all this video and audio conferencing in the last couple of months, I find that my hearing has become much more acute. Even without face-to-face meetings, I find that I'm better at listening to the nuances of what people are saying. This has been something of an unexpected bonus from the situation.
Q: What is important to you as a team leader?
A: Safety, integrity, continuous improvement and teamwork are values that resonate with me. I firmly believe that all team members have to think, work and return home safe every day. Another value that cannot be compromised is integrity, the cornerstone of every organisation. In a fast-changing and challenging environment, continuous improvement is key to maintaining competitiveness and relevance.
Great results can only be achieved with a highly engaged and motivated team, so leading by example is really important. It's not about giving instructions and having your team follow them, but the other way around. If you work to support your team, they will succeed and, by extension, so will you. It's about collaboration; you can't just be commanding and directing, but need to be part of the team to reach the goal.
Likewise, at Kalmar, the key to our success is making our customers successful. We have to know their vision and goals, and help those goals become a reality. If we can do that, we will find success that is shared by both parties.