Career Path

Bridging the gap

by Ella Lee

Johnson Chow
Director of Operations
Motorola Asia Pacific

Despite involving complex technologies, the telecommunications industry is all about communication between people, extending the scope and bridging the gap between individuals.

"It simply started from a basic and interesting question - how to make calls," said Johnson Chow, Director of Operations for Motorola Asia Pacific. Mr. Chow is responsible for the Global Telecom Solutions Sector, providing wireless infrastructure products and services to mobile operators in Hong Kong and Macau.

Committed workforce

According to Mr. Chow, competition in the telecom industry is keener than ever, as the market has opened up from many perspectives. Equipment makers and service providers must add value to their solutions, whilst maintaining competitive pricing levels. Telecom professionals must face the pressures of this highly competitive and fast-changing industry.

However, he thinks many young professionals are up to the challenges: "There are young professionals, who are casual and relaxed, but at the same time, energetic and willing to face challenges. All in all, they are very interested in and committed to their work."

"The telecom industry is so broad and fast changing that it involves various technologies and methodologies satisfying the requirements of different customers at different geographical locations"

Open & flexible

Mr. Chow started his career as a programmer in a technology company in the US, and moved on to become a management consultant, gaining exposure in business and strategic business development. After refining his expertise in business and technology, he joined AT&T in 1994 as the head of the service provider's Business Markets Division for Greater China. In his current role at Motorola, he manages a team of 60 people to support existing clients and to expand GSM and CDMA networking business in Hong Kong and Macau.

Although not necessarily in equal measure, telecom professionals should be both business and technology savvy to succeed in their careers. Those working in the business stream may not need to be very technical, but must have a basic knowledge of emerging technologies and an understanding of how these affect business and people. Those on the technical side have to keep abreast of market trends and competitive offerings. Understanding the macro-environment of the industry and applying the knowledge to one's specific circumstances will always benefit individual cases.

"The point is thinking outside the box," said Mr. Chow. One should never be limited to one's area or expertise. The telecom industry is so broad and fast changing that it involves various technologies and methodologies satisfying the requirements of different customers at different geographical locations.

"To develop practical solutions, one has to be open and flexible and able to look at things in detail and from different perspectives; from the point of view of vendors, service providers and customers. As a multinational vendor, we can even leverage our experience in other countries, thinking in a regional, even global perspective."

To work in the telecom industry is an ever-learning process, said Mr. Chow. "As long as you are hardworking and willing to learn, it doesn't matter if you don't know your career goal at an early stage. Just try and, by elimination, you will know what you like and dislike. Also, you can learn through experience and gain from a wide exposure."

China Opportunities

According to Mr. Chow, China is the fastest growing developing market with the greatest potential and opportunities worth exploring. "We all agree on the opportunities in China, the risk only comes from the commercial side. It is all about the process, and how to realize the opportunities," Mr. Chow explained.

There are a number of challenges, both political and financial, including the currency issue. From the point of view of customers, there is also a question about market readiness in China. "There isn't any preset formula for running a business in China. Most companies are simply trying different ways. Nevertheless, to act prudently and conservatively is better than getting it wrong," Mr. Chow said.

Figures for reference only   K='000

Taken from Career Times 24 May 2002, p. 16
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