Prescription for a stable career guiding doctors
K.W. Wong, general manager at Siemens Hong Kong Medical Solutions, likes switching gears between engineering, sales and marketing
I TRAINED AS an electronics engineer at the Polytechnic University and, after a brief stint as a clerk, joined Siemens Medical Solutions' office in Beijing as a technician. It was 1986 and Siemens had no office in Hong Kong till the following year.
I was responsible for the service, maintenance and installation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and computed tomography (CT) scanners and any other medical equipment that Siemens sold.
I spent five tough years there, trying to learn the language while doing my job and keeping on top of my training. Apart from doing my regular work, I often ended up demonstrating the use, care and repair of the equipment to clients.
Despite the obstacles, I had fun. I loved travelling and meeting people all over the country. An engineer develops a close relationship with clients because of the need to discuss products in detail. So I got to know many local people. I saw things I would have never had the opportunity to see in Hong Kong.
In 1990 I came home and, as technical manager, I was soon supervising Siemens' engineering department in Hong Kong.
One day my boss suggested that I move to the sales team. After two years, I was made general manager and that is the position I hold today. My main responsibility is to understand the needs of our customers and their expectations from Siemens. I spend a lot of time talking to doctors, radiologists and hospital superintendents, so that I can get a good understanding of their work situations.
At first, it was difficult for me to bridge the gap between engineering, sales and marketing. I had to change my mindset, because an engineer's way of thinking is very different from that of a salesman which is, again, different from that of a doctor. I have to understand all three.
My sales team and I have to be able to communicate with doctors who are not necessarily interested in technology. So, using clinical terminology, we explain how our technology can help with their daily routine.
I conduct regular internal training forums to help our sales staff communicate with clients. I also listen to recordings of their sales calls to make sure that they are on track.
We have challenging customers - sophisticated, high-flying academics - and I have to be on top of my game because they will not accept anything less.
In my job I have to think strategically, be a good communicator, and have a proper understanding of what the customer is telling me. I must then turn that understanding into something we can give them to solve their problem.
I am certainly ambitious, but I feel as though I have reached my goal with last year's sales figures which exceeded expectations by a large margin. We had the highest-ever number of orders.
The upswing that we witnessed as we recovered from Sars has lost its momentum this year, and we are finding it challenging.
My boss describes me as tenacious and he is not wrong.