Coming from a customer service background in healthcare, Philips approached and recruited me as a Customer Support & Forwards Logistics Manager in North Ryde, Australia in 2006. At the time, I was admittedly unaware that Philips even had a healthcare division, but I quickly came to appreciate the company’s forward-thinking approach to the field. Since I joined ten years ago, I have grown in my leadership role together with my team while Philips has strengthened its local and global reputation as a well-respected name in healthcare, with a 125-year company history of innovation.
Connecting, Understanding and Improving
Before joining, the existing function head of Customer Support walked me through the scope of my prospective role, which really energized me! My key performance indicator at the start was to get to know and understand my team and the day-to-day work activity and to then identify areas for improvement. I reached out to key stakeholders from different functions across all districts in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), and organised one-on-one sessions to get a feel for their challenges and needs. From there, I established the type of team that was needed to manage the business successfully.
Since my early days at Philips, discovering ways to enhance our performance has been one of my key strengths, which Philips has tapped into and leveraged. This feels extremely satisfying! Some of my personal highlights along this journey was participating in the business improvement competitions in ANZ and Singapore.
One of my main strategies in finding areas of improvement has always been to understand as much as possible about our business and get input from various stakeholders. What has been especially fulfilling were the many times that I got to connect with our customers to hear about their experience with our customer support infrastructure. In fact, I am dealing today with many of the same customers that I dealt with when I started my role. This means our working relationship is very strong, which is another rewarding testament to our work.
Volunteering and Continuous Learning
In my time with the customer care team I took on various responsibilities for other teams along the way. Although this could be something as simple as covering leave periods for certain managers, it could, on occasion, lead to new commitments for periods of up to four years. For example, I had the opportunity to manage the contract admin team, and I also got to work with our consumables business for over three years. This additional exposure to various functions of the customer care and operations business has been invaluable to me.
While I have always been very well supported by my managers, who have made sure to answer all my questions or connect me with the people who could, one of the key lessons in my journey has been to create my own opportunities. I often volunteered when our managers reached out and always tried to position myself to learn more about the business. In doing so, I was not only driven to explore new functions but, in fact, was enabled to perform my own function better as well.
The success of every department is so interdependent, without effective collaboration and engagement it would be impossible to achieve the best outcomes – not just for the business but for our customers and, ultimately, for our patients. I have always been convinced that understanding the dynamics of the business as a whole would not only enhance my knowledge, but also help my team work better with others.
Personal Development with the Team
I have people in my team that have been with Philips almost as long as I have, so I have really gotten to know their unique personalities. This has definitely helped me to leverage their strengths, and to identify areas of development for every member. Over the years we have grown together and learned together, and expanded the business together. I feel extremely proud of the personal growth within my team over the years.
Many of my team members are career customer support people; they love doing what they do every day. Still, I try to give them opportunities to stretch themselves and develop, and I make sure they know that I welcome any initiative by them to extend their learning and training. I believe a crucial quality of success is to take ownership and continuously empower ourselves with new skills and knowledge.
Serving with Passion
Our logistics role within the customer support team can be very challenging, but everyone in the team is extremely passionate about what we do. We operate around the clock on a daily basis, including being on call after-hours. This would not be sustainable without the conviction of my team and their understanding of the importance of our role. Our team handles urgent situations on a daily basis, some of which could be a matter of life and death. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we handle these requests quickly and professionally. Everyone in my team takes ownership and understands what is at stake in such situations. We all take a great deal of pride in the excellent level of service we’re able to consistently provide.
Such passion can also be exemplified through the support we provide and receive from colleagues across different continents. Just recently, my team had difficulties resolving a particular issue with one of our distributors. Yet, when we reached out to the Singapore operations team, we were able to resolve our issue through their help and experience. Such a supportive culture, not just locally but internationally, also contributes to making our whole-hearted commitment feel satisfying and inspiring.
Finding Work-Life Balance
Though it is not always easy to manage a strong obligation to work alongside having a family, I make sure I prioritise quality time with my loved ones over the weekend. One of the ways I maintain a healthy work-life balance is that I choose to stay a little later in the office. However, when I get home, I try not to reopen my laptop – something that requires more discipline than many expect. I also find it really important to go on leave and re-charge my batteries so that I come back refreshed after my break. Pursuing a passion or enjoying a hobby is also another way to really help to keep your mind fresh. For example, I am currently renovating my home which is keeping me busy and is a lot of fun.
I am excited thinking about the initiatives and exciting new ways of working Philips has planned for the future. There are many positive challenges ahead that will challenge my thinking and the way we do things. This will enable me to continue to stretch myself fully and contribute to the organization!