Dare to Dream Big: New Delta Australia Country Manager’s Leadership Lessons for Rapid Growth
By David Nakayama - Published November 20, 2023
Interview with Mr. Tom Hew, Delta Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand Text by David Nakayama, DET Corp Comms Photographs by Mr. Tom Hew
Bangkok, Thailand, November 10, 2023- In recent years, Delta Australia has had a remarkable transformation resulting in rapid growth and market expansion. Building on this outstanding success, Mr. David Leal was appointed Vice President of Business for the Southeast Asia region and Mr. Tom Hew became the new Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand this September.
In this email interview, we meet Mr. Tom Hew, Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand. He shares his interesting career path, secrets to Delta’s transformation in Australia, future growth plans and how to provide real value to the organization as a strategic and empowering leader in today’s globalized and fast-paced world.
Can you please share with us about your background and how you came to your current role as Delta Australia and New Zealand Country Manager?
Engineer by degree, I have built a career in the critical infrastructure industry, starting as a design engineer in Western Australia and progressing to regional design manager and then national project manager at a Siemens and Thiess JV. I then took a planned "career break" to challenge myself by setting up a company in Beijing in a different field of personal interest, in a language I couldn’t speak.
After returning to the industry, I joined Eltek in Singapore in 2015 as a Programme Manager before being sent to Australia in 2016 to support large datacentre projects prior to the Delta merger. At Delta, I have held various roles, including services manager, operations manager, sales head, and now Country Manager. I have also had the opportunity to live and work in multiple locations around the world, including Singapore, Adelaide, Sydney, Perth, Beijing and Melbourne.
Congratulations on your recent appointment as head of Delta Australia and New Zealand, what are some of the challenges and opportunities you now see from the perspective of your new leadership role?
Thank you. The opportunities for Delta in the region are indeed limited only by our imagination, drive, and determination. We have a unique position in the market as being able to offer full turnkey solutions made entirely of Delta equipment and software to address the many issues that come with rapid electrification and the drive towards net zero. Our portfolio of products in the region from ICTBG, EISBG, and BABG makes for very compelling, energy-efficient, and smart solutions to address our sustainability needs.
Some of the challenges we will face come from regional and global instability and a global decoupling of the supply chain. However, we are confident that our strong global presence and our commitment to innovation will help us to navigate these challenges and continue to grow our business in the region.
In the past couple years, Delta Australia has experienced a transformation in terms of organization and performance. Can you share some of the keys to your rapid growth and market expansion?
In its simplest form, our rapid growth can be attributed to FOCUS (Follow One Course Until Success) and prioritizing the key factors of innovation and product development, a customer-centric approach, and building a strong company culture and team. Our turnover rate has dropped from 32% in 2021 to 14% in 2023. Additionally, we have identified and are developing 7 future leaders from engineering, operations, sales, and services through our global development program.
By understanding the market requirements and building partnerships with our customers and suppliers, we have managed to stay ahead of the competition by constantly evolving and improving our solutions to meet the demands of our customers. This requires a team that is diverse and skilled and shares a common vision.
We have focused on building an environment where our team does not fear to make mistakes and understands that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow from.
Looking forward, what are some short to mid-term approaches to keep up the strong momentum, and what are the markets or areas your teams would like to position Delta in over the long term?
Delta Australia is committed to continuing to drive for customer satisfaction excellence and building and growing relationships with our customers and their ecosystems. This will help us to grow our customer base, while remaining strategic in our approach to ensure that we maintain a high level of service for our existing partners.
In addition, we will expand our product range to meet evolving market needs and set up a more local presence closer to our customers. This will allow us to better understand their needs and provide them with tailored solutions.
One of our key focus areas in the short to mid-term is the mining sector. Mining is a critical industry for Australia's economy and is the largest sector representing 14.3% of the GDP or over $300bn. We will leverage off the successful penetration of power systems in mines all around Australia to expand our share of wallet and provide a pit-to-port solution that includes data center, building and industrial automation solutions and battery storage and high-powered vehicle chargers.
How is the Australian market unique compared with other countries in Southeast Asia, and how can you leverage regional and global synergies to accelerate Delta’s growth?
Australia is a unique market in several ways, including its high cost of living, strong regulatory environment, large size, and distance from the rest of the world. These factors can present additional challenges for importers of new products and solutions.
However, Delta has the R&D and technical expertise to overcome these challenges. We also have a vast amount of experience in local assembly and production and importing new products and solutions to markets around the world, which we can share with our team in Australia.
In what ways do you think the role of a business leader has evolved, and what are the top skills and traits of a successful Delta country manager in today’s globalized market?
Gone are the days of the top-down, command-and-control style of leadership. In today's globalized, interconnected, and fast-paced world, successful companies need to make smart decisions quickly. This requires empowering and training teams to make decisions and be leaders in their own right.
In addition to general competencies such as strategic leadership and business acumen, successful country managers must possess an entrepreneurial spirit, adaptability, the ability to inspire others, and a deep understanding of cultural differences.
My wife Michelle and our friend’s corgi Miller
How do you unwind after work? What do you think are the secrets to having a rewarding personal life?
I find happiness and contentment in my family and friends, and in practicing gratitude. I believe that it is important to invest time and effort in the people we care about, and to nurture our relationships. Growing old with loved ones who reciprocate our feelings is one of the most rewarding experiences in life.
Contentment takes a lifetime to cultivate, but it is worth the effort. When we are grateful for what we have, we are less likely to chase after the next shiny or bigger thing. This can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life.
In terms of unwinding after work, I enjoy cooking, eating, and learning about the culinary world. Food transcends all barriers and creates memories and bonds that last long after the meal itself.
Delta Australia is a truly diverse and dynamic team. How do you foster a strong unifying Delta culture within your teams while getting the best qualities from teammates from different backgrounds?
Delta Australia fosters a thriving work ecosystem by creating an environment that embraces our common humanity, prioritizes empathy, celebrates individual differences, cultivates a constructive diversity of thought, and revels in our unique perspectives.
One of the ways we celebrate our diverse workforce is by holding an annual potluck event. This event is a great opportunity for employees to share their culture, traditions, and food with their colleagues. For those who don't know what a potluck is, it is essentially a lunch where everyone is encouraged to bring one dish from their nationality to share with everyone else. We have a few excellent cooks in the company, so this usually ends up quite competitive with the prize of being crowned "masterchef" fiercely fought for!
Other popular events include badminton, table tennis competitions, and fun runs. These events are always successful. Employees enjoy the opportunity to participate in physical activities, bond with their team members, try new foods, and learn more about each other in a relaxed setting.
This human-centered approach not only amplifies employee satisfaction and engagement but also ignites innovation, sparks creativity, and propels the organization to resounding success
As a next-gen Delta leader, how do you want to empower future leaders and facilitate the success of all our people?
I believe that the most important quality of a good leader is the ability to inspire and motivate others. A leader should not be someone who is seen doing everything, but rather someone who can get others to do anything.
This can be achieved by fostering a culture of shared purpose, empowerment, communication, recognition, and development. When team members feel connected to the organization's mission and values, empowered to make decisions, and recognized for their contributions, they are more likely to be motivated and perform at their best.
Mt Cook, NZ
Finally, is there anything you would like to share with your Delta colleagues around the world?
Thank you to all my colleagues for your contribution to society. Being part of a large organization can cause us to lose sight of the fact we are part of something big and amazing, and that the work we do is directly contributing to a better tomorrow.
Delta was all about ESG before ESG became a catch cry, and in that foundation, we have grown to be a positive influence on a global stage.
Lastly, dare to dream big, so big that your dream scares you.
About the Author (Editorial Team)
If content is king, there must be a kingmaker. And the universal theme in my favorite stories is our innate human desire for freedom. I have a master’s degree in Chinese education and experience spanning industries and countries. As the Comms guy at DET, I’m obsessed with the stories behind our products and people. Share your stories with me https://www.linkedin.com/in/yushi-david-nakayama/