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7 Questions on Leadership with Clement Pang

Name: Clement Pang

Title: IT Director

Organisation: Micron Memory Malaysia

A senior IT leader with over 20 years of experience in IT industry with extensive experience in major multinational semiconductor manufacturing companies such as Micron, Intel and Lumileds, supporting global stakeholders on mission critical manufacturing execution systems (MES), tools automation, decision support systems and factory engineering analysis applications.

I am also very passionate in the areas of management/leadership development and IT technical leadership development by developing framework and running training programs to help develop IT leaders.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Clement's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Leaders need to be adaptable as each team or organization they lead has different team dynamics or organization culture or structure. Even business stakeholders’ expectations and working styles are different in each circumstance, so having the ability to figure out how to adapt your leadership skills to be successful in different circumstances is imperative.

In the 3 different organizations where I have been a leader, I have been exposed to 3 different circumstances.

For example, in my current organization which I joined 4 years ago, I was hired to startup a team from scratch to enable the Greenfield manufacturing startup which include a new IT data center setup and all the other IT infrastructures required to run a full fledge factory. The leadership challenge is to integrate people whom we hired from diverse working culture since they come from different companies and the new college graduates (Gen Y and Z) who joined us and to develop them to become a cohesive team to support a new factory startup.

Specifically for leaders in rapidly evolving technological field like IT, the other challenge is of course to constantly keep ourselves abreast on the latest technologies trend and how that could be applied to better support and to drive more business values for our business stakeholders so that IT can be a competitive advantage that differentiate our organization from our competitors. With AI (artificial intelligence) gaining more prominence, is an exciting time for IT and as a leader we need to embrace changes and keep learning.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

During the start of my career as an engineer, I have always relished the opportunities given to lead projects, task forces, global working groups or organizing chair for events. That helps to build my leadership aptitude.

To get ready to be a future leader with direct reports, I realize I need to develop my people management skills and get ready to apply when opportunities arise. For example, as part of my development plan, I covered my manager for 2 months when he was out for sabbatical leaves, and I also volunteered to participate in official mentoring and coaching program to mentor and to coach my peers.

All these helps to prepare me well when I transition from an individual contributor to a people manager.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I am a firm believer of getting the most important things done first. In our line of work, there will always be urgent things but not all urgent things are important to be attended to personally and can be delegated.

I always keep a list of important to do for the week, so that I do not lose track on accomplishing what needs to be done.

Morning is the most productive time, so I will ensure important meetings and important tasks are scheduled earlier in the day.

Afternoon is typically for interacting with employees and stakeholders in 1 on 1 meetings, team meetings or skip level sessions where I can get feedback.

As we have colleagues across the different geos, some standing or ad-hoc meetings will be happening at night but generally I try to complete my meeting by 10pm to ensure sufficient rest for the next day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

The recent leadership training that I attended together with my team is on executing team strategy and goals where we want to improve the disciplines of execution. A goal or a plan is only good on paper unless it’s implemented successfully per what is has been designed.

The 4 disciplines of execution touch on

1. Focus on the wildly important

2. Act on the lead measures

3. Keep a compelling scoreboard

4. Create a cadence of accountability.

Out of these 4, the one that created the a-ha moment for me is discipline number 2 on lead measures.

Lead measures will tell us whether we are likely to achieve the goal while lag measures which is how we typically measure success tells us whether we have achieved the goal.

For example, if I have a cost saving target, saving this much of cost by end of the year is the lag measures. But if I create lead measures where I measure how many contracts I need to negotiate per month and how many items I can push out the spendings, then I can better measure my success since is more action oriented and I know what the targets I need to hit progressively before the final goal can be realized.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner has a profound impact in shaping my leadership style.

There are 5 main exemplary leadership practices that have stood the test of time, shared in this book.

One of them that resonates most with me is Inspire a Shared Vision by envisioning the future and enlisting others.

I put this into practice by developing a vision on where I want to bring my organization towards in the coming years where we want to be the best-in-class Manufacturing IT site for Micron Assembly/Test factory where operations, talent and innovation thrive in delivering the best IT experience to our customers.

To achieve the vision, I work together with my team to develop the blueprints on what are the strategic action plan to get there and how we are going to measure progress and eventual success.

But most importantly, is to get the entire organization on board on why is important for us to get there, not only from the organization and business benefits perspective but what does it mean for everyone in the team in term of their career development and personal growth.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

As a young leader, is important to establish your leadership brand and be clear on what are the values you stand for as a leader. As a new leader, gaining credibility is important as it inspires trust and shows that you are a leader worth following.

As a young leader you will be exposed to leadership training to equip you with the knowledge to lead effectively.

Nevertheless, is important to practice and to implement what you have learned.

Many times, leaders just go through the training motion but after that it stays as knowledge that will be slowly forgotten and not reflected anymore because leaders are not really putting their learnings into real life practice.

Knowledge multiplies by zero application or effort equals to zero, so you get nothing out of from the training if you don’t take action.

So, my advice to young leader is find the leadership lesson that resonates most with you that you learn from training and put that into practice to establish your leadership brand and credibility.

This quote from Bruce Lee sums it well

“Knowledge is not enough, we must apply.

Willing is not enough, we must do.”

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Team members constantly look up to their leader to get a sense of how hard they need to push towards the goal.

I am a passionate believer that leader not only direct the team but show the way as well.

If leaders expect their team members to follow them to the deepest valleys or trenches, they should display the same degree of passion in executing what they expect from others.

During our factory startup a few years back, our original plan was thrown into disarray as the world is caught in Covid pandemic which severely restricted business travels. Instead of getting more experienced peers from other sites who were supposed to travel and to help in our IT data center and system setup, we have to coordinate and to rely on our new employees to do most of the work ourselves.

On top of that, there are multiple challenges that threaten to derail the schedule due to supply chain disruptions caused by Covid lockdowns such as IT hardware delivery delay, construction delay and many other challenges.

Despite all these challenges, the team rise to the occasion and keep to the schedule to successfully migrate to the new data center. As leaders, we role modelled by thinking out-of-the box to resolve many of the challenges and stay close to the ground by getting involved in the detailed planning and coordination of the data center setup and migration.

From this experience, we can see when the going get tough, either people will succumb, or they will end up doing their career best work and deliver. As a leader, we can influence the outcome.

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