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TRANSPORT & LOGISTICS | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Mobility giant Jardine Schindler Group sees upward trend for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau

Chief executive Jujudhan Jena speaks about Asia’s long term growth prospects.

To most, mobility traditionally means the movement of people, but for Jardine Schindler Group (JSG), it is an essential requirement in the world in which we live and work. For a company backed by over 40 successful years of operations in the Asia Pacific region that transports an average of 100 million people with its elevators, escalators and moving walkways on any given day. Jardine Schindler Group, which manages 12 markets in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan - sets its sights on the region’s long-term prospects.

We spoke to Jujudhan Jena, Chief Executive of Jardine Schindler Group to get his perspective on the importance of staying innovative in this industry, sustaining business leadership in the face of fierce competition, the challenges and opportunities faced, and find out the key defining management qualities that have helped this affable leader elevate the business to the next level.

Please tell us briefly about JSG and how it became the company it is now.
Jardine Schindler Group (JSG) is a joint venture between Jardine Matheson Group and Schindler Group of Switzerland established in 1974. The partnership dates back to 1929 when Jardine Engineering Corporation became Schindler's sole distributor in Shanghai. In 1931 Jardine Engineering signed an agreement with Schindler for exclusive rights to sell Schindler lifts in China, Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan). The first lift was installed in Hong Kong that year.

Over the past decades, we have firmly established ourselves as a leading elevator and escalator provider in this region, thanks to a strong and dedicated organization, support from our shareholders and the trust placed on us by our customers.

JSG is headquartered in Hong Kong and currently operates in 12 countries within the region; including Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei, and employs some 4500 employees in a variety of specialist disciplines, ranging from engineering design to project management.

What do you consider are attributes to the achievements JSG has accomplished?
We attribute many of our core achievements and customer excellence best practices to a combination of factors that have shaped our business in the region.

JSG embraces a forward-looking attitude to stay ahead of the industry through developing proprietary technologies and products that are smart, safe, efficient, sustainable and cost effective for our customers. We invest in the skills and development of our people to meet the demands of urbanization and rapid expansion of cities.

In all the markets that we operate, we have a proven track record in the mobility business - frompowering the 490m high, 118-storey International Commerce Centre (ICC) in Hong Kong with state-of-the-art technologies;to supplying elevators and escalators to Changi airport,one of Asia’s busiest international airports - which is expected to handle 82 million passengers in year 2017.

JSG’s clear differentiation to continuously improve our environmental footprint of our products and processes like the first solar-powered elevator, the revolutionary PORT transit management system and more recently myPORT wireless application and Schindler’s iOS app FieldLink in partnership with Apple,further reaffirms our stand to truly bring innovation that leads to value creation –by offering tangible possibilities to the architects and designers of our future cities.

How does JSG manage all twelve markets under the group in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan?
At Jardine Schindler Group, we have multiple operations but share one ambition – our commitment to delivering outstanding customer service by continuously improving performance and value through technological innovation and enhanced processes, while maintaining high standards of quality and safety.

We strive to achieve this through our processes and supply chain management system; by working with a set of global standard of excellence defined at the Group level, we are able to reduce complexity, enhance quality and improve efficiency. The combination of Schindler’s Swiss commitment to excellence and Jardine Matheson’s true understanding and presence in Asia has helped us to effectively meet our operational needs across the markets and stay ahead of the curve.

What is your management style and how has the underlying philosophy guided you?
I am always seeking new challenges and assignments outside my comfort zone, and that was one of the key reasons I left a career in the consumer products industry to join Schindler.

Following management trainings at Fortune 500 giants Coopers & Lybrand, Procter & Gamble and Kellogg’s, I embarked on my 17-year career journey with the Schindler Group holding strategic positions in key global markets. I joined Schindler in India in 1998, when the company started a greenfield operations and launched its business in India with a wholly owned subsidiary.

In 2001, I relocated to work on an assignment at the Schindler Group Headquarters in Switzerland. With a keenness to go back to the field, I was then transferred to the United States, where I worked on several challenging assignments and roles including leading the North and North East US Operations. It is also during this time when I served as the CFO of the entire US operations during the tough recession period. After almost ten years in the US, I took the role of Chief Executive of Jardine Schindler Group’s Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan business in 2013, managing 12 markets in the region.

As a person and a leader, I am continuously evolving. My early influences at home and lessons on leadership at the boarding school where I was sent to early in my childhood serve as valuable experiences that have helped shaped my thinking. Some of the outstanding leaders, managers and professionals I have had the privilege to work with in my roles all over the world have also influenced and contributed to my growth as a leader and life at Jardine Schindler Group remains a continuous learning experience for me.

For me, challenging the status quo, being transparent and inclusive amongst other things have all worked well throughout my career. Most importantly in the end, it is only as a team that we are able to strive and aspire to achieve our ambitious goals!

What are the biggest challenges the industry faces in acquiring and retaining talent in Asia? What does JSG do to attract and retain talents in this highly competitive industry?
The success of JSG is built on our people, and more than any other factor, it is the skill, expertise and professionalism of our employees that ultimately determine JSG’s success across the markets we operate in.

The pursuit of our growth agenda requires people and a shortage of skilled talent pool is a challenge we are facing in the markets we operate in.

Another challenge we face is the adequate recognition of our industry compared to some of the other top of the mind industries like technology, consumer products, pharmaceuticals etc. The innovations and the use of technology along with the solid and long term nature of our business is somehow not very well known and perhaps there is room to better market ourselves to support our efforts in acquiring and retaining talent.

Just to share another perspective of our business - on average, 100 million people throughout the Asia Pacific region are transported by equipment supplied and maintained by JSG on any given day. This is a humbling figure that gives scale of our business, and is testament to the 40 years of successful operations within this region.

We are continuously working on various fronts and strategies both traditional and non-traditional to attract and retain talent. We are working on developing talent on five levels; from technicians to management, to support our growth aspirations as well as to develop future leaders of the company. In addition to offering competitive salaries we offer career growth opportunities, international exposures, challenging roles and extensive training opportunities to develop and enhance skill and expertise at all levels.

With all this and more, where having fun and celebrating successes goes hand in hand with challenging schedules and ambitious targets, we are trying to make JSG a desirable place to work.

Can you share some key trends in Asia, in regards to urban and city planning?
Asia’s urbanization is a spectacular ongoing phenomenon and we believe that Southeast Asia, China and India are still on the upward trend. Asian cities will continue to grow with vertical expansion, given the projected explosion of urban population in the next decades, and the shift in demographics where millions of educated young couples forming households, there will be ongoing demand for what we term mobility solutions -- moving more and more people in a faster, smoother and safe way. However, it’s not just a matter of quantity but also quality.

There is also a shift in the industry for more sustainable buildings in increasingly dense vertical cities.

What is your outlook for JSG for the next 2-3 years?
Since we started our business in this region 4 decades ago, we have always believed in the long-term prospects of the region. It has huge opportunities going forward.

With our long history and a strong presence in this region, we are well-positioned to provide for the needs of our customers, as we continuously improve the environmental performance of our products and processes, and stay innovative to meet the challenges ahead.

To support our growth ambitions, we are investing in building or expanding state-of-the-art training centres in Southeast Asia to further harness the competence of our employees and to assure we deliver what we promised. At the same time, keeping our eyes firmly on our future, we are working on apprentice programs by collaborating with local technical colleges around the region not only to strengthen our talent pipeline but also to support the communities we work in. Our regional training facility in the Philippineswas opened in June 2015, which will be followed by Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia in 2016.

These training centres are equipped with the latest training modules, elevator shafts, simulator facilities and digitized tools to train engineers and field technicians on the latest state-of-the-art installation methods, maintenance processes and safety standards.

With investments into the expansion of the training facilities and the introduction of a digital toolcase for our service technicians, alongside many other initiatives in the pipeline, we look to further strengthen our capabilities in the region and continue to make Schindler our customers’ first choice.

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