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Taking over the reins of a multinational company in the thick of a pandemic is stressful enough. Joining one that’s in the middle of a massive transformation adds a different dimension. From 1996 to 2007, Koh Ching Hong was managing director of Fuji Xerox Singapore for 12 years before returning in April last year to guide the firm to its next phase, which is now fully underway and cemented by the company’s change in name in April this year to Fujifilm Business Innovation Singapore.

With Koh, The Peak delves into Fujifilm’s transformation process.

WHAT HAVE THE PAST 18 MONTHS AT THE HELM BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?

It has been exciting, energising, invigorating and fulfilling. Each day, week and month brings new perspectives to our people and our businesses. Within those 18 months, the environment, our customers, and our marketplace changed dramatically.

As a result of all the changes, we are learning to adapt to a new future, change and be decisive.

Our strong leadership team played a critical role in aligning our functions, people, processes and organisation to help us navigate the past 18 months.

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YOU TOOK OVER WHEN THE PANDEMIC WAS AT ITS HEIGHT. WHAT ARE THE LEADERSHIP LESSONS YOU WILL APPLY IN THE FUTURE?

Our philosophies are straightforward. The first step is to have the right people in the organisation. Having the right talent, the subject matter experts, high-performance people, and those with the right attitude will help us achieve excellence.

Second, it is about building high- performing teams with our people, who are aligned in achieving a common goal and are innovative and collaborative about delivering consistent and superior results.

Thirdly, we need to implement the right technologies, processes and IT dashboards to accelerate our business growth and empower our people with efficient processes so that they can focus on critical business areas.

Finally, our people need continued development to ensure they remain competent in their roles and become ever better in their Fujifilm careers. It’s a personal passion of mine to make sure our employees are well taken care of. I believe that we do not grow businesses. Our philosophy is to develop them so that they can increase the business.

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, we started to ensure that our businesses were lean in our cost structure, protect our customer base with continued customer engagement and innovative offerings, and grow our market share by outperforming in each segment involving us.

When the pandemic was at its peak, our employees worked from home, so we learned how to do what we needed to do while being productive. What made that possible was a clear line of communication and engagement with all levels of staff through multiple channels. This included frequent online socialisation huddles with each department, quarterly fireside chats with more senior staff, and one-on-one discussions with staff to keep them engaged.

YOU OVERSAW THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE COMPANY FROM FUJI XEROX TO ITS CURRENT ITERATION. WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

We will always be transforming. Instead of focusing on one key strategy, we have several strategies in place to reshape our business from within, and our core competencies drive these.

For example, we have moved from physical documents to digital documents to enterprise content management. Progressing from document to data allows us to translate data into analytics and actionable insights.

Today, we are working with several technological and solution partners to provide the right solutions and services to targeted business and functional segments based on our core competency in document management.

We want to offer our customers a highly secured, multi-tenancy framework that enables them to make intelligent decisions quickly and accurately. We are excited as we have a talented workforce and the right partnerships and assets that will help us transform and grow into the future.

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HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE DEVELOPING, AND HOW CAN COMPANIES PREPARE FOR IT?

The business environment is changing dramatically and rapidly because of many factors, including sustainability, multiple technology advances, digital transformations, diversified customers’ needs, geopolitical and global trade realignments and inclusiveness. Then there are security and compliances, social accountability, diversified talents and skills, and, most recently, global pandemics like Covid-19 that have demonstrated how it can completely change our lives. Of course, other new challenges will come along in the complexity of these changes.

There is no single direction for the future. Every business needs to find its way by knowing its segments and the changing needs of its customers – and it must be willing to take bold steps to change.

To remain competitive, you must understand that yesterday’s competitive advantage and assets can quickly be replaced by tomorrow’s trends – and that tomorrow will not last long. Hence, we must continue to innovate and present new ideas and values to our customers, whose needs are always changing.

To prepare for the future, it is also crucial to have the right people in the organisation – high-performing and innovative talents who can solve problems and bring new solutions to grow the business.

WHAT IS ONE TRUTH OF YOURS THAT VERY FEW AGREE ON?

There is no crucial truth. It is just like faith, where one person’s beliefs may differ from those of another.

Amazingly, Fujifilm Business Innovation’s motto – Never Stop – aligns with my belief that each day offers us a chance to learn and discover new things, and explore the meaning of life.

“Never Stop To Be Ever Better” is my mantra, and it applies to me in all aspects of my life. As I learn and do what I already know, I want to constantly challenge myself to find a better way to do it.

It is not my age that defines who I am; it is how I age. No matter how old I get, I will never stop learning to be better in everything I do.

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