Western celebrates Hong Kong Convocation

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HONG KONG – Simon Cua challenged graduates to look beyond a black-and-white world and see a landscape that features a full spectrum of colours.

“Ivey is very good at finding people who have a good vision and then making them see in colour,” said Cua, who leads the largest LED lighting manufacturer in China. “Without Ivey, we would all still be seeing the world in black and white. Here in Asia, the range of colours is even greater because our businesses operate within such a wide range of different colours due to so many different cultural, social, political differences, not to mention legal framework, which we all know, is never black or white, but usually varying levels of grey.

The business executive received an honorary degree from Western, as he joined 43 undergraduates and post-graduates, in celebrating the university’s 11th annual Hong Kong convocation ceremony Sunday in the Chancellor Room in the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, located in the heart of Hong Kong right by the Victoria Harbour. Amit Chakma, Western president; Janice Deakin, provost and vice-president (academic); Kelly Cole, vice-president (external); and deans Brian Timney, Social Science, and Robert Kennedy, Ivey Business School, joined the celebration.

From 2001-04, Ivey celebrated a convocation for its Hong Kong campus. In 2005, that convocation was expanded to include all Western faculties and affiliates. The university now celebrates a full Hong Kong convocation, complete with gonfalons and a replica mace.

Cua currently serves as the managing director of Light Engine Limited, a company considered the global leader in advanced light-emitting diode (LED) technologies. Light Engine is the largest LED lighting manufacturer in China and one of the Top 10 LED lighting suppliers in the world. From 2008-12, he was managing director of Linkz Industries, Asia’s largest manufacturer of networking cable.

Cua is a board member of the International Cablemakers Federation Council; Director and Executive Committee member of the Hong Kong Electronic Industries Association; Director of the HK-Shanghai Economic Development Association; and committee member of the Hong Kong Electronics Industry Council.

Cua successfully completed Ivey’s Executive MBA program in Hong Kong in 2005.

The text of his honorary degree lecture can be found below.

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Business executive Simon Cua, who leads the largest LED lighting manufacturer in China, received an honorary degree during  Western's 11th annual Hong Kong convocation ceremony Sunday in the Chancellor Room in the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Special to Western NewsBusiness executive Simon Cua, who leads the largest LED lighting manufacturer in China, received an honorary degree during Western’s 11th annual Hong Kong convocation ceremony Sunday in the Chancellor Room in the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Thank you for inviting me and for awarding me this most prestigious LL.D. Degree from the Western University.

Being here with you today is particularly important to me because the Ivey Business School has had such an important impact in my life, as I am sure it has had in your lives, too. For instance, Ivey allowed me to refresh my management skills and re-visit what I already knew about running a complex organization. An Executive MBA allows you to shake the cobwebs in those areas where your experience led you to a form of routine which may, or may not, be still applicable today. Ivey also allowed me to interact with executives of different cultures, different industries and therefore different leadership styles. It even allowed me to recruit some of my classmates as team members in my organization.

There are some cynical people who believe leaders are born, not made. This implies the role of a business school is to act as a sorting yard, much like you select good breeding stock, whereby they select people whom they recognize as being born leaders, run them through the school’s business program and then take full credit for their accomplishments later in life.

I belong to the other group of people. Those of us who believe a top business school, like Ivey, carefully selects people who have the potential to be trained as world business leaders, and then develops them, through practical real-world business cases, in being the leaders that they should be.

I read recently a comment from Hsui-Yan Chan, participant in the EMBA Class of 2012. She said: “I feel I see more now because of Ivey. It is as though I was seeing in black and white before and now I can see in full colour.”

To pursue my earlier comment a minute ago, let’s say that Ivey is very good at finding people who have a good vision and then making them see in colour. Without Ivey, we would all still be seeing the world in black and white.

Here in Asia, the range of colours is even greater because our businesses operate within such a wide range of different colours due to so many different cultural, social, political differences, not to mention legal framework, which we all know, is never black or white, but usually varying levels of grey.

Hari Bedi, who wrote Understanding the Asian Manager, said multinational managers who want to be true leaders must know how to practice dual management styles – one suited for Western culture and another which is more applicable to an Asian environment.

I think the real picture is even more complex than that. A dual management approach is like nitoryu, which is a 17th century samurai fighting technique, using two swords simultaneously, one long and one short, and knowing when to use them.

Hari Bedi wrote his book in 1991. Today, in 2015, our business climate calls much less for the nitoryu techniques of the samurai, and much more for the ever-changing shapes of Transformer.

Take our industry for example.

Light Engine is one of the pioneers in LED lighting. We have been a key developer of this highly disruptive technology ever since Day One – some 15 years ago. And yet, we are still learning and transforming our company almost continuously to adapt to a very innovative and fast changing environment.

Leadership for innovation in a very disruptive technology environment calls for a unique mindset. In a rapidly developing disruptive technology environment, time is of the essence, and therefore our company, Light Engine, focuses on uniting key aspects of the value added chain through ownership, joint ventures and strategic alliances rather than trying to do it all by ourselves. By doing so, we have grown from being one of the early pioneers in the field of LED research and development, to being the largest lighting manufacturer in China and one of the top 10 LED lighting suppliers. Our main manufacturing base in Huizhou covers 130,000 square meters of factory floor space and is one of the largest in that region of China.

A leadership vision is essential for constant innovation, but success can only be achieved by maintaining a balance between that vision and our management and administrative resources which are compatible with a company of our size.

In other words, even in a group like ours, which is at the forefront of quickly changing disruptive technologies, success is only possible if leadership is compatible with our capabilities and resources. Therefore, we form alliances with many key players. We also regularly restructure our group and operations, or make acquisitions, or merge operations, in order to maintain such a balance.

Our business model and leadership philosophy is therefore very much in line with the Ivey Business School principle of cross enterprise leadership, which emphasizes the need to evaluate our role in the context of the whole picture, understanding the relationships and interconnections, and more importantly the function of each unit.

Successful companies today follow the same philosophy as the Ivey Business School.

In the business world of 2015, being good at what you do is not enough. Doing your job well and outperforming your colleagues and subordinates in most tasks is not enough. The size and complexity of operations in today’s international companies have made training indispensable, not only for today’s needs, but with a strong focus on the challenges that will arise in the near, medium and long-term future as a result of growth and diversification which will come from today’s smart decisions.

And, in the final analysis, that is where your training from the Ivey Business School becomes essential; that is where Ivey affects all our lives as I said in my opening remarks; and that is why I am so proud to stand in front of you today and accept this award being conferred upon me by the Western University.

Thank you.