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Published 22 August 2012 06:11, Updated 23 August 2012 04:53
When Alan Hyde became managing director at diversified tech outfit NEC Australia, he was the first non-Japanese head appointed to the post.
“They wanted someone who was networked and who understands the dynamics of the industry here,” Hyde says.
NEC Australia is a subsidiary of the Japanese owned and based NEC Corporation. The company began trading in Australia in 1969. Since then, all the managing directors have been Japanese nationals installed directly from the company’s Tokyo head office. Hyde describes his first impressions. “You walked around and it felt like an Australian company but the management system and style was Japanese,” he says.
The structure was hierarchical. Management and decision making was highly centralised.
Many important decisions concerning strategy were made offshore. “There was a lot of information coming from Japan rather than coming from the [Australian] market,” Hyde says. “We’ve redressed the balance a bit now.” Under Hyde’s leadership, NEC Australia has a tailor-made Australian business strategy, “as opposed to the roll out of a strategy formulated offshore”.
Hyde changed processes within the company. “We’ve pushed decision making further down into the organisation.” This means giving each business unit head more control and the ability to run the unit “like their own business”.
Hyde knew well what it was like to work in a company where the corporate strategy was decided offshore. He spent more than five years with German software giant SAP. “They have a rigid global marketing model, what they take to market they do consistently in every market, it is one size fits all,” he says. At NEC, Hyde got his share of serious responsibility early on. NEC Australia completed the acquisition of the technology service divisions of CSG in a deal worth $227 million in late May 2012. The deal gives NEC Australia better reach across the technology solutions industry. Hyde describes the purchase as a “great relationship building exercise” with NEC head office. The Japanese head office provided finance for the purchase.
As for the relationship with Japan now? Hyde visits head office quarterly and has monthly board meetings where performance and progress against strategy is discussed. Aside from that, “there’s no real schedule” for meet-ups he says. “Phone calls to Tokyo are not a weekly occurrence.”