When Philips needed somebody to lead Philips Excellence, Carolyn Lum was the woman for the job.
It didn’t take much to convince her. The challenge of leading change at global level was too good to pass.
Carolyn remembers her interview in 2014 very clearly. “It was one of the most inspiring interviews I’ve had,” she says. Her meeting with Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips, was a deciding factor to switch to Philips.
“Frans is involved in the day-to-day business of our company. He spends a lot of time with the executives, and a lot of time, like me, in the field,” she added.
“He empowers and motivates.”
But that wasn’t the only incentive for Carolyn to make a career change. Coming from a leadership position in an industrial conglomerate, the possibility of leading change in a health tech company was inspiring.
“I see how often someone’s life has been negatively touched by an illness or a diagnosis that can impact the future of their life,” she continues..
Carolyn was prepared for the challenges that came with her new role as Head of Philips Excellence. She set out to embed the best practices she had learned in her previous position to drive Philips’ business performance.
I was well aware that Philips is a large company with over 71,000 people and long history of over 125+ years. My strategy was revolutionary and the idea of implementing it was daunting.
As a newcomer and an outsider, she wondered whether the changes she had in mind would be embraced and at what speed. Was Philips ‘ready,’ Carolyn wondered? However, as the days passed by, she was constantly surprised by the level of energy, receptiveness and willingness to embrace change.
“The acceptance to do things differently in the last two and a half years has exceeded my expectations. We have been able to accomplish so much in such a short time,” she smiles with pride. The fact that Carolyn was a newcomer worked to her advantage.
“When someone comes in and drives change in a way that people haven’t seen before, it’s inspiring. It gives people hope that the company really does want to make a change.”
What she thought might turn people away was in fact the impetus they longed for. Employees accepted both Carolyn and her vision. In one year, her team doubled in size. As a leader of a global team, whether she is in Amsterdam or on the road, she is constantly witnessing her strategy come to life.
“I connect my global team as a network,” she says. “We are speaking the same language of change and excellence.”
This is only the beginning of Carolyn’s journey in leading change for Philips. She enjoys being in Amsterdam where she has the proximity she needs to influence Philips’ top executives and leaders. At the same time, she loves spending time on the road — being ‘in the trenches,’ whether it’s one week in India or Japan the next.
Change happens where the real action happens. It’s important to get out there in the field to make an impact on Philips.
“Working at Philips means having the ability to work in a company that will literally change the quality of billions of peoples’ lives. The possibilities here are unlimited.”
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Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization.
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