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Growing in uncertainties

Philips CEO sets tall target

Harjit Gill joins a growing number of female executives at Philips.

Harjit Gill joins a growing number of female executives at Philips.

Female CEO for region eyes double-digit growth, sees opportunity in economic uncertainty



After stepping up to become the chief executive of Philips for the Asean and Pacific region since the start of this year, Harjit Gill has set the challenging goal of achieving another year of double-digit growth, despite the economic uncertainties.

This year, Thailand which had been severely hit by massive floods in the latter part of 2011, is targeted to join the double-digit growth range, she said.

"Last year, we struggled a bit because of the floods that affected business in the last quarter. But we have not changed our full commitment to the country," said the Philips CEO for Asean & Pacific.

Gill said Thailand is already one of her "top four" markets in the region, besides Indonesia, Australia, South Korea. Other countries in the regon's 10 markets include Pakistan, Singapore, New Zealand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The region has a population of close to 1 billion and represents one of Philips's growth markets which altogether account for one-third of the group's global sales that totalled 22.6 billion euros in 2011.

Still, Thailand should grow its contribution to Philips even further considering the"opportunities" and "brand equity" that the firm has in the Kingdom where it established a foothold 60 years ago, she said.

"This year, I see good growth [in Thailand]. We will invest in healthcare where we see growth opportunities. The lighting [business] grew last year and keeps growing this year. We will continue to invest in the brand and people to develop our capabilities in Thailand," said Gill.

The Philips CEO for Asean & Pacific was speaking at an interview in Bangkok when she made a visit to the local subsidiary and attended the World Economic Forum's first meeting in the city last month.

Gill, a British national of Indian origin, has joined the growing numbers of female senior executives in Philips. The number of women at executive level rose from 11 per cent to 13 per cent during 2011 and Philips is committed to grow them to 15 per cent by the end of this year. In the top 10-member executive committee level, Philips has increased the number of female executives from none to two in less than 12 months, with the appointments of Carole Wainaina and Deborah DiSanzo who assumed the roles of chief of human resource, and the CEO of healthcare, respectively.

"In our Asean and Pacific cluster, women comprise 20 per cent of our regional leadership team. Philips is a very diverse organisation and really values diversity. In this region alone, we have more than 30 nationalities working for Philips," she said.

Gill said the biggest challenge for Philips is to make sure its worldwide performance and change-management programme - known as "Accelerate!" - continue to prevail, execute and "live and breathe" by its employees every day. Taking innovations to its core, Philips is also encouraging a new corporate culture that comprises the three values: eager to win, take ownership, and team up to excel.

"As a leader, I have to make sure our people are on board, motivated; they can see uncertainties through. During this time of uncertainty, I don't see it as an issue but an opportunity for us to come out to the market and engage our customers and stakeholders even closer," she said.

pichaya@nationgroup.com




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