SPARK OF THE CORPORATE
What makes Lenovo stand today as one of the world’s largest computer makers is its CEO Yang Yuanqing. While it is true that no company is made of one individual and it’s the company’s quality – core values, culture, capabilities and aspirations, it is also equally true that Yang’s efforts to transition Lenovo into a globally leading computer maker in the midst of some really tough competition, rising above a very reticent type of work culture to become an enterprising and go-getter kind of work-force, are testimony to the fact that leadership indeed makes a lot of difference to the fortunes of a company. Leadership in terms of thought, decision-making, and inclination to address employees’ concerns. Lenovo has been Yang’s respiration and inspiration for the last 26 years or so since he joined it – a last minute decision taken by chance, instead of original intent of becoming a university professor.
Yang, born to parents who were both doctors (surgeons), on November12th, 1964, had a very interesting event at the height of his educational life. While the fact is that he did his bachelor’s in computer science from Shanghai Jiaotong University in 1986 (and followed it up with a master's degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1988), how he ended up in the world of computer science is quite interesting, if not fascinating. Being doctors, Yang’s parents wanted their son to also follow suit and become a medico. While on the other hand, he had leanings towards literature. However, a family friend’s (a university professor) advice sealed it and he chose information technology over medicine and literature.
It all began in Beijing while Yang was researching for master’s degree when he chanced to see a newspaper advertisement that talked about jobs at Lenovo (Legend, as it was called aback then). He thought let me try my hands with this which he did and how. He was only 25 when he joined in 1989 and was entrusted with helping the sales department. His forward-looking thinking, risk-taking, and innovative approach through the initial years earned much appreciation and also got him quite a few promotions and, accordingly, he moved up the ranks quickly.
Rise through the ranks at Lenovo
Throughout the course of journey up the ladder (became the head of Lenovo’s PC division when he was just 29); Yang left an indelible mark on the rank and field of Lenovo. He discharges his duties like clock-work but with a precision that wasn’t seen until then. He travelled across the country, interacted with distributors and helped them with his technical know-how – all of which helped in better proliferation of Lenovo’s offerings and, consequently improved sales.
It was only a matter of time before he assumed the top position as he had done enough to make one and all (including the then Chief of Lenovo, Liu Chuanzhi). Not surprisingly, Yang was elevated to the position of CEO of the company in 2001.
The paradigm shift at Lenovo
From 2001 on up to 2004, Yang made some drastic changes to the entire fulcrum of the organization – be it human resources, distribution, scaling, bonus distribution, job positions, company positioning, expansion, or networking with partner OEMS, and, above all, the change in the mind-set of the employees through proper delegation of authority which was so lacking before he assumed the top position coupled with a heightened focus on efficiency – all of which helped propel Lenovo to the coveted position it is today.
In fact, the master PR man and strategist that he is, Yang also helped overcome some resistance from so-called state entities in the computer market to become China’s preferred PC maker. These qualities and the gift of gab that he possesses have earned him much respect not only from heads of global OEM such as Microsoft, IBM, etc., but also from U.S. Congressional members.
The man’s calibre and quality have been not only been used by the likes of Microsoft (to quell piracy problems it was facing in China) but also well appreciated and utilised by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, who selected Yang Yuanqing to accompany him on a state visit to the United States in September 2015.
Yang – The ropist of different kind
We’ve known many leading businessmen who alphilanthso have a soft corner for the society and the less-privileged. And they are doing their bit in helping the situation in their own way. Obviously, like we have seen in his decision in his education - to pursue a path that was way off others expectations (including himself), Yang treats the society in general and the people slogging out day and nights across the globe to make Lenovo the company Yang dreams of, as the ones that need all the help, affection, love, and importantly care.
Therefore, to address his employees (the hourly-wages ones); he seems to have no qualms whatsoever in distributing the bonus he receives from the profits Lenovo makes. As if that wasn’t enough he funds several initiatives which are aimed at sustaining life – in other words of those who do not have access to effective medical care. One way doing this is to fund extensively in research that is going to help people. Toward this end, he donated $1 million for biomedical research (early beneficiaries of the funding were students from University of North Carolina involved in genetics, paediatrics, microbiology, and immunology research).
Yang publicly pledged to implement the “CEO Cancer Gold Standard," a workplace wellness program that promotes risk reduction, early detection, and effective treatment - at Lenovo. He is also involved in initiatives that are aimed at tackling cancer (CEO Roundtable on Cancer).
Hope viewers caught up the spark…