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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.

Education

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.

Career

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).

Other Affiliations:

Teaches as a guest lecturer at China's University of Science and Technology
Serves on the board of China's National Youth League
Serves as director of the China Entrepreneurs' Association
Serves as a member of the New York Stock Exchange's International Advisory Committee
Serves on the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

Awards & Recognition:

Listed on the Forbes billionaire list, 2015
Received the ‘2014 Edison Achievement Award’, 2014 (Yang who shared the award with Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, was the first person from Asia ever to receive the award)
Named one of the "2012 CCTV China Economic Figures," 2012 (& 2004)
Named "Best CEO in China" by Finance Asia, 2011
Awarded "Businessman of the Year" by Forbes Asia, 2008
Named "Chinese Business Leader" by Fortune China, 2007
Listed among "Asia's 25 Most Influential Business Leaders" by Fortune Asia, 2004
Named one of the "Stars of Asia" by Business Week magazine, 1999 & 2004
Awarded the May Fourth Youth Medal, by the All-China Youth Federation, 1999
Quotes
 We are a new unified culture, more efficient, more profitable and with better service for our customers.
 I have a dream that Lenovo will become the pride of China in the IT industry. Lenovo is my life's struggle and career; I have invested all of my energy into it. I firmly believe that Lenovo, a product of China, will stand atop the world's stage. As you can now see, our dream is being realized step-by-step.
 We have this potential, this opportunity to grow (at) twice the industry average growth
 If you don’t have enough scale, if you don’t have enough volume, it’s hard to make money. If you don’t have enough market share, it’s hard to make money. That’s why we enter the markets one by one. When we enter a market, we want to quickly get double-digit market share
 While the transaction is a personal financial matter, I want to be very clear that my decision to make this investment is based on my strong belief in the company's very bright future. Our culture is built on commitment and ownership – we do what we say, and we own what we do. My decision to increase my holdings represents my steadfast belief in these principles."-On increasing his ownership stake in Lenovo from 70 million to 797 million shares in 2011.
 I cannot just promote a Lenovo product every day. I have to get people interested first and then find the opportunity to promote it once in a while.” About asking his employees to get active on the social media
 With our integration of IBM’s PC division on track and our organised integration complete, we are accelerating our planning for our next phase of growth
 The process will take at least five months, so we can have a smooth operation in organising the management and a stable increase in our business in domestic and international markets
 Our results validate the expectations we have when we acquired the business and reinforced our convictions that we have a model for ongoing profitability
 We just don’t believe the PC is dying. You can use a phone or tablet to do some simple work, but you cannot do everything—it’s simply not as functional as a PC. For example, I prefer to reply to e-mail using a keyboard. We know that we still need to innovate when it comes to the traditional PC, however, and Lenovo has done a lot of work on that
 In the past, we were a Chinese local brand. Now they view us as a very serious competitor—we are more competitive in the market. This is a volume industry, a scale industry. If you have the scale, you have the advantage. So, first, becoming one of the leaders is very important from an efficiency point of view. And, second, being a top PC company promotes our brand. This is even more important for Lenovo, given where we were just a few years ago
 Someone in the Chinese media asked me how important it was to become number one, and I asked him, “Can you name the world’s highest mountain?” And he replied, “Everest.” Then I asked, “And what’s the world’s second highest?” That’s why being number one is important

Hope viewers caught up the spark…

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