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Alumni Interview | Jeff GAO:Balance between Reason And Passion

Jeff GAO KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA 2009 Intake Global Software Procurement Manager Lenovo Group

Jeff GAO has over 19 years of experience in electronic information industry. Before Global Software Procurement Manager at Lenovo Group, he has worked in German enterprises like Siemens, Infineon Technology, Nokiasiemens Networks as Senior Design Engineer, Senior Technology Telecom IC Sourcing Engineer and Senior Sourcing Manager, etc. The years spent in Germany has contributed to his rigorous and pragmatic working attitude and encouraged him to closely follow the industry trend as well as focus on the comprehensive development of his own. From technical backbone to senior management, Jeff has achieved an overall improvement in the areas of procurement, marketing, business and finance, etc.

Years in Germany: A professionalism of focus, rigour and precision

With a keen interest in electronic information industry, Jeff majored in electronic engineering at university and got hired by a Chinese state-owned company for hardware and software integration after graduation. Due to the weak manufacturing basis, the electronic information industry was only in its initial phase in China and the domestic companies ran mainly their business in distribution with few posts in R&D.

In order to keep abreast of the cutting-edge technologies, Jeff joined Siemens where he worked as Technic Assistance Team Leader in Beijing and Munich, providing technical assistance to regional offices, field-engineers and projects implementation. In Jeff's view, the working experience in Germany not only gave him access to the most advanced technologies, but also bestowed on him a professionalism of focus, rigour and precision which had powerfully boosted his career progression in subsequent periods.

“If you have ever worked with Germans, you will understand why German companies can represent the top of the pyramid in the hierarchy of electronics manufacturing. Their working attitude is not just a translation of professional commitment, but a deep-rooted self-discipline. They are more culture conscious rather than business-oriented, while they pay more attention to the quality of each product than to catering to the consumer society. Sticking to standard, order and persistence, they keep reminding you that there are no shortcuts to solid and sustainable achievements.”

Thanks to the years in Germany, Jeff’s R&D capabilities raised to a higher standard and won the recognition of the top management which led him to his further development in the electronic information industry – Senior R&D Engineer at Infineon’s R&D center.

MBA & Career Transformation: From technical backbone to senior management

By the year of 2008, Jeff has worked more than 10 years as electronic engineer and he started to look for a career transformation by joining Nokiasiemens Network as Senior Technology Telecom IC Sourcing Engineer. From technology to procurement, he sought to prepare himself towards management. However, the transformation was no easy task, emphasizing a mastery of both knowledge and skills in management. With a French friend’s recommendation, Jeff applied for KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA programme:

“In the period of transition, I need to learn about macroeconomics, understand financial statements and develop my leadership capability. And the reason why I chose KEDGE is because it is a business school of great renown and holds the triple accreditation. What’s more, the courses of flexibility and the center-located campus could help to keep a work- study balance.”

Speaking of how the MBA programme has helped him in the career transformation, Jeff listed 4 key points:

  • Holistic perspective: the courses cover all aspects of management and present an overall picture of enterprise and industry, which helps you to go beyond your working field, understand the characteristics of each function and how they work together. Thus, your mindset is equipped with a holistic perspective.
  • Real cases and methodology: KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA is a practice-oriented programme, providing a wealth of latest real business cases. By accumulating and analyzing the cases in group, you will learn to extract the methodologies that can be soon applied in your work.
  • Skills of communication and presentation: the courses involve a lot of group assignment and oral presentation. During the exchanges with participants from other industries and cultures, you will know how to take the initiative in negotiations and master soft skills of communication. The frequent oral presentations also help to enhance the ability to give public speeches.
  • English proficiency: the programme is fully delivered in English. After 2 years’ study, you will harvest not only management knowledge and skills, but also a remarkable improvement of English proficiency.

After the graduation from KEDGE-SJTU Global MBA programme, Jeff completed a successful transition from technical procurement to commercial procurement, followed by a solid route to promotion until his post as Global Software Procurement Manager at Lenovo Group.

Trade Friction And Digital Transformation: Solution to upgrade indirect purchasing

At present, the China-US trade conflicts are becoming increasingly frequent. Playing a key role in the digital transformation, hardly can the electronic information industry stay immune to the subsequent impact. In charge of the global software procurement at Lenovo, Jeff shared his point of view about how to assume a continuing upward trend under current circumstances – a procurement digitalisation.

“Broaden the sources of income and economise on expenditure is the universal law to a continuous growth. The digitalisation in procurement not only upgrades the working mode from process-driven to data-driven (more targeted), but also improves significantly the cost management and working efficiency.”


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