Saturday, July 20, 2024

Even If You Have a Good Machine and Bad Support, It is Still a Bad Machine

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This interview shares some tips for managers and future business leaders, where we brief over acquisitions, team management and development. Mark Norris, general manager – SE Asia and Korea, Nordson Advanced Technologies Electronic Systems speaks with Dilin Anand of EFY


Option-1Q. How do you improve your technologies after an acquisition?
A. A very good example is that, in September this year (2015), we announced the acquisition of a company called Matrix, in Germany. When we approached Matrix, we quickly realised that while we were extremely strong in the handling of the substrate, they were really good at inspection and usage of certain algorithms to recognise defects. They also used software to interpret results and give these to the operator.
Our strength with offline x-ray is in terms of tube technology and detector technology. When we came to know about this, we immediately set up a plan with the company to take our combined strengths and do a classic ‘one plus one equals three.’

Q. What should be kept in mind when considering acquisitions?
A. For us, it is really about acquiring companies that are complementary to what we already have. This enables us to share R&D resources and to implement sales and support through the existing sales structure of the parent company.

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Q. What is a good business mantra in your line of business?
A. I always say that even if you have a good machine and bad support, it is still a bad machine. This is because a good machine lets people do their work and if they are waiting for the support team to fix a problem, the good machine just goes bad. So the ideal solution is to have a good machine and great support. We cannot have our feet on the ground all over the world. We have direct application and support and direct field-support engineers, and we rely very heavily on local support.

Q. What would you say is a good strategy to build a support team?
A. We try to be focused and, in order to remain focussed, we have to make sure that we do not spread the knowledge too thin. We have dedicated application engineers for each product line so that they are completely focused.

The next line of service engineers has expertise in three different areas. So the further we go down, it spreads a bit and this helps ensure there is sufficient support coverage across products.

Companies need to be able to invest and should not just be interested in a quick sale, where they do not support the product or solution that they have just sold. It is always easy to sell one product and a salesman normally does that, hoping it would work. But normally if you sell the second, third and fourth machine, it is because of a good product combined with great service and support.

Q. What are your thoughts about leading a team?
A. People have to believe that if they say you are making a mistake, you will listen and act on that. Whether you are right or wrong, you will need to explain your actions. People need to know that there is a leader who is moving the company forward so that they can grow, and most importantly people just want to be trusted.

Trusting people and mentoring them is the key. If you are not developing people with whom you can be replaced, you are never going to be able to develop yourself and do more and more things with the same effort.

Q. What is your personal mantra for managing your team?
A. Some people might say that my management style is a little bit aggressive. I believe that management is like having children. I wish I had realised this years ago because now I have two children. I realise that when you are managing people, not everybody is the same. I have two children and they are not the same. How you react to people will be the same as how they react to you.

BlurbWith some people, you need to take time. Sometimes you need to invest in mentoring rather than lecturing, but sometimes you also need to bang your fist on the table. I think all great leaders understood that you need to have a bit of everything. At the end of the day, people have to trust you. People have to believe that when you say you have an open door policy, for that you should have an open door policy.

Q. How do you drive development within your team?
A. What I want is for my people to develop and learn more, and I want to give people the opportunity to move. Under normal circumstances, spending ten years in the same company is not really ideal, but when your company is continually acquiring new companies and there is new technology coming into the company, then it is exciting and gives people the opportunity to move around between products and may be even geographically.

We give people the option to move to Europe or China for a two-year period. Some people choose to stay there forever as they continue to work for Nordson in another region. I think it is important to give people the opportunity to grow, to learn and to use that knowledge wherever they think is the best fit for them.

Q. Do you think information overload is a real problem with all consumer devices available these days?
A. We are being swamped with information. What many people do is, they make the mistake of allowing themselves to be swamped, and they do not use technology to make their lives easier. During this interview if I had got a message from my wife, I would have had to take my phone out and have a look at it and see who sent the message.

Today, all I have to do is take a look at my wrist, tap and tap again and I would have just informed her that I will call her later, using a smartwatch. Technology saves time. I can read emails on my watch, although my eyes are a bit worse for wear.

The only time it is disappointing is when I go to a restaurant and I see parents on their phones and children on their tablets, and no one is talking to each other. With my wife and children, absolutely nobody is allowed to use their phone at the table, which is why I have my watch. I can have a quick glance.


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