Michael Ngan, country general manager of Lenovo Philippines, has steered the company to the top as demand for personal devices surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Lenovo tops the worldwide PC shipments in the third quarter of 2022 posting a 22.7% market share, way ahead of HP Inc. in second place with 17.1% (based on data from the International Data Corp.).
Coming out of retirement, Ngan joined tech giant IBM in 2005. He holds a Marketing degree and has worked in several other companies from different industries before dipping his toes in the IT industry.
“I think my system was actually looking for that energy vibe of working certain hours of the day and getting results,” Ngan told Back End News in a virtual interview.
Ngan was there when Lenovo acquired the PC business of IBM. He never looked back.
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The Lenovo Philippines’ chief usually starts his day by going over the most important meetings of the day and stacking them up in order of priority. It was his way of feeling energized and wanting to accomplish things and getting results.
As countries, including the Philippines, went on lockdown at the onset of the pandemic, Lenovo is among the many companies that adopted a remote work setup. As sales skyrocketed with the demand surging for online classes and work-from-home setups, Ngan is now seeing the benefits of hybrid work but is not ruling out the potential of in-person transactions with clients.
“We are a technology company and we are supposed to absolutely promote the hybrid, remote work, and study-from-home setup,” he said. “We always support our employees and customers by coming out with solutions that will enable them to adapt to any work environment.”
Ngan is referring to one of Lenovo’s offerings which is Smart Workplace that allows educational institutions to operate distance learning to keep students and teaching and administration safe during the pandemic.
“We have to advocate so it has to start from us,” he said. “You have to believe that by doing so, you are still able to deliver the right amount of productivity without sacrificing other things. On top of that, Lenovo is looking at fresh investments in our R&D to come up not only with hybrid learning innovations, products, and solutions but also with customer-centric solutions that offer flexibility.”
All leaders in the industry face insurmountable challenges as they traverse the fast-changing world of IT. He acknowledges that businesses — and the markets — have their ups and downs. Ngan said, at Lenovo, he never lost focus on what he signed up for which is providing customers with what they need at the moment and growing the business in the process.
“Keeping the focus means you are one step forward,” he said. “It allowed us to be resilient and we stood out strongly. It is those several challenges that came along. In fact, in my 18-year stint with Lenovo, I have actually witnessed a lot of those headwinds from the global financial crisis in 2008 which affected most companies. And this pandemic, no one was prepared for it. So, I think the company’s strategy around innovation evolved into focusing on customers by selling customer-centric solutions, and then you sort of stack that up and wrap it around the core business that we are in today. That absolutely allowed us to stand up and rise to the occasion and overcome a lot of those perfect storms that we experienced.”
To be ahead of the game means maintaining the balance of people within the organization and Ngan strongly believes it should be any company’s strongest asset.
“You may have the best products, today, but it is bound to fail if you do not have the right people to execute your plans and strategies,” he said. “Or you may probably believe that you have a very underdog product, but it’s getting noticed because you have a good team that will make sure the products get to the right customers.”
His tenure not only in Lenovo and the IT industry but also in his previous jobs allowed Ngan to have that foresight of what customers may need and when they would need it. He said that he had to make adjustments in executive decisions to meet his goal as a leader of a market leader.
And with that foresight, Ngan has always advocated for leveraging data as a tool in the decision-making processes.
“We need to create and maintain a culture of being data-driven,” Ngan said.
Paraphrasing a quote by Amazon big boss Jeff Bezos, Ngan said “you make decisions with analysis but you must also know that the most important decisions we make are always with instinct, intuition, taste, and art.” Data provides organizations like Lenovo with the bigger picture and allows leaders to make predictions.
“The market is very dynamic,” Ngan said.
After more than two years of remote business operations, the country is now almost back to normal. The mobile device shipments may be experiencing a dip in numbers while necessities (real estate, desktop PCs, etc.) pre-pandemic are again gaining traction.
Before the announcement of in-person classes, Lenovo launched Edvision, an education project that provides solutions to schools as they transform their processes digitally. This is also meant to sustain that digital transformation when schools get back to normal.
Edvision is a company-wide initiative that started in the Philippines.
“This is one of the programs that allowed us to be at the forefront of this business,” Ngan said. “Lenovo has also been embarking on other programs and projects and one of them is Environmental Social Governance (ESG). Lenovo is pledging that by the year 2050, the company achieves net zero. It means that we are going to start making laptops and products that are environmentally friendly.”
Ngan said Lenovo is looking at embedding more technology into its products that will serve the hybrid workforce. The company will continue to invest in technologies that would put Lenovo at the forefront of hybrid solutions offerings to customers.
It is also his personal mission to provide their customers with options that offer them flexibility and productivity as businesses are slowly easing into the pre-pandemic levels in terms of going through their daily lives. But the world has changed permanently. The role technology played for companies and people to be resilient during the lockdowns cannot be discounted as another fad or phase.
Ngan believes that Lenovo has so much more to offer that would enable its customers to easily adjust to whatever work environment they choose to be in.
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