It was on July 1, 2014 that a dynamic Malaysian by the name of Lim Kok Hin officially assumed the position of Canon Marketing Philippines Inc. (CMPI) president.
An Economics graduate from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom, Lim has held various management positions in the global operations of the famed imaging and optical brand, among them as marketing head in Canon Malaysia, as well as senior director of Business Imaging Solutions (BIS) at Canon Singapore Pte Ltd.
Lim was also assigned as vice president of the BIS group for the Southeast Asian region in 2011, and with this position handled the Sales and Marketing of Canon’s business imaging hardware and software solutions across 18 countries, including subsidiaries in India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Lim finds great satisfaction working with colleagues and partners and one of his greatest achievements is spearheading the launch of “The Ambition Gap” in 2010. To meet the man up close, The Manila Times sits down with forward thinking executive in the Q&A below.
The Manila Times: Please explain the idea of “The Ambition Gap” and the “Do more, work less” system.
Lim Kok Hin: The Ambition Gap is a program that enables both individuals and companies to become more productive through opportunities provided by technology, and create a bridge between expectations and actual goals and ambitions.
Each one of us has two ambitions. One is the ambition as a person. For example, a woman wants to be a good mother to her children, and the other one is her ambition at work. Along the way, many tend to become focused on one ambition alone and in effect often neglect the other.
I’ve seen many examples of co-workers and employees prioritizing work over family—the very reason for the creation of this program. It aims to enable people to bridge the gap between their ambitions. Each person, especially those who have a family and career, suffers from ambition gap.
With the “Do more, work less” idea, I introduced the concept of doing more so they can work less. For example, if they regularly work until 5:30 p.m., they can go home at 4:30 p.m. I believe if an employee goes home early, he or she will be able to spend more time with the family, then he or she would be able to work productively the next day.
I propagate this idea to help people succeed in their lives. If a person feels good then he or she will be more focused and will be more productive. There will balance in achieving his or her ambition at home and at work.
TMT: After a year and two months as president of Canon Marketing Philippines Inc., how would you rate the Filipino employee?
Lim: After isang taon at dalawang buwan (a year and two months), I learned that Filipinos are among the best employees in the world. They have much strength; they are hardworking; they have very good command of English; they are innovative; they are willing to try new things; they are good leaders; and they are very competitive.
TMT: With the advent of new technology, do you think employees can really be more productive while working less?
Lim: New technology allows you to do more if you know how to use them properly. For instance, while in traffic, you can use your cellphone or your tablet in checking the exchange rate for the day or check the latest trend that will help you decide on certain things. Optimize the use of technology and it can make wonders in your life.
Canon technology continuously innovates to address this need. Our new printers can be customized according to the need of the users. What you normally do in three hours can be done in three seconds with Canon technology. It can also send email automatically.
ED: How would you rate the Filipinos in adapting to fast-changing technology?
Lim: Filipinos easily accept technology and adopt to it immediately, but they need to focus more to be able to make technology work for them productively.
TMT: What has made you stay with a single company—Canon—for more than three decades?
Lim: I’ve been with Canon for 34 years now because I love what I’m doing.
I believe people should enjoy their job to be able to be productive. I believe people are not born to work only, but we work to have a better life.
I come from a very big family and my mother does not have enough time to cuddle us, so I learned to rely on myself. I am the second child of 10 siblings.
I am also fortunate to work in many places with Canon. Whenever I feel I’ve done enough, Canon management takes me to another assignment. I used to work in Malaysia where I was born and then I work in Singapore, then now in the Philippines. That’s why I call myself “MaSingNoy,” my coined word for Malaysia, Singapore and Pinoy.
TMT: After a year in the Philippines, what have you discovered about the country?
Lim: I’ve been to a lot of places in the Philippines like Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and have made friends with many Filipinos who are very nice and accommodating.
I’m learning the language slowly and loving the food like tinola, sinigang, sisig, crispy pata, gising-gising. Our cook in the house is from Iligan and they cook the best adobo.
TMT: What is a regular day like for you?
Lim: I wake up at about 4 a.m. and have an hour of “me time” when nobody can disturb me; then I eat breakfast with my wife Sonia and my two children. I also have one hour “me time” in the office so I can crystalize well what should be done for that day. Then I leave the office at about 4 p.m. and empower my people to take over. For me, being a good leader is letting his people learn how to be managers. I want them to own the project so they will give their best to the project and feel accomplished as a leader and eventually as a person.