Playing Different Roles At Man Yue Technology Holdings
17th May 2015 Paul Andrews
Next generation MD of this Hong Kong listed family firm explains the need for clarity of roles.
Man Yue Technology Holdings Limited engages in manufacturing of advanced electronic components. It was founded by the Chairman Ms. Chor Lin KEE and her late husband Mr. Ho Sing CHAN in 1979, and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1997. Their son, Eugene is now Managing Director of the Group, after joining the company in 1998 and becoming a director ten years later.
Man Yue operates in a high-tech industry, where the pace of change is accelerating and constant innovation is vital. As Eugene says, “It’s a very different world from that in 50 years ago.” He believes that the long time horizon of a family business can help to ensure that the right investments are made for the future: “Seven or eight years ago, we looked at the market trends in our industry and did some scenario planning about what sort of products might be needed in the future. In particular, we identified a growing demand for energy saving and energy efficiency, whether in industry, in homes, or in transport. So we invested a lot of time and money exploring new possibilities in energy saving and renewable like solar and wind. And now we have a whole range of products in that area, which sit alongside other new electronic components that target for different sectors and different products.”
So a long-term perspective can be valuable, but it must always be coupled with agility, effective decision-making, and openness to new ideas: “You always have to think like an entrepreneur.”
Eugene also recognises the importance of bringing in new blood, whether that’s from the family, or outside: “Every company has to continuously recruit new and better talent at every level, whether it’s a family business or not. What’s important is the team spirit you create - the values you share and the trust you develop in one another. That’s what kept our business together in the last decade, as we made our investments and waited for them to come to fruition. I think a family business has definite advantages in this respect, especially in the times of crisis and when you need to change your strategy or transform your business model.”
Man Yue clearly has a strong and cohesive corporate culture, but Eugene knows that this has to be worked at, especially in a family business: “When you have a business that involves family members, you are going to have conflicts. Sometimes within the family, but also with other colleagues. But disputes with colleagues are easier to resolve because your relationship is purely professional. But disputes between relations involve many different roles - you may be father and son, you may be mother and son, you may be sisters and brothers, and on top of that you are also colleagues, and possibly manager and employee. The key to resolving situations like that is to not to mix up those roles. Keep work conflicts at work, and when you’re at home, don’t discuss business. You have to separate each role according to where you are at different times of the day. That makes the inevitable tensions easier to handle. Personally, I think the ultimate challenge is how to play all these different roles better – a better son or brother, and a better professional.”