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THE INTERVIEW | WILLIAM ROSS: Listen with humility, be agile to grow, take the hidden value in failure

F.Y. Teng | July 3, 2013
A senior information executive shares essential lessons he's learnt in his 23-year career.

I continued forward in doing some Global IT Strategy work in the US and then I was invited back to Asia to establishing new business process engineering model for our global operations. This allowed me get a broad-scale understanding of different business functions around the world. The goal was just to provide innovation, mostly in our supply chain operation space. I led that effort, which required a lot of work in fostering constant communication and close cooperation between business leaders and stakeholders with IT leaders and stakeholders.

Since then, it has been a whirlwind, managing different roles and different functions across internal and external operations, and being constantly engaged in different geographies. Out of that experience, I think the biggest thing for me has been the engagement of different cultures. While diversity of individuals is always transparent, there are more similarities in human values than ethnic differences in people. We all fundamentally want respect, seek security, and joy, and all done with a sense of life balance. Once you understand this basic concept, you get a full sense on how to effectively engage people and achieve success in business and other life endeavours.

Why the decision to actually move to Asia?
It was the work exposure opportunity that attracted me first. The opportunity turned out to be a life adventure, and then I appreciated the experience of human culture. I think that was also stimulated by my wife, who is an adventurer as well. The way we looked at it, it was very simple for us at that point in time. At that point we had lived in the US most of our lives, and having that opportunity to go somewhere totally different was something that we felt not only would be a growing experience for us, and but also character-building for our children to grow up as third-culture kids. My daughter now speaks, reads and writes in fluent mandarin and is taking Chinese studies as one of her double majors at university in US.  

Where have you been across the globe?
I believe I have touched all the continents except Antarctica. It while I hear it is beautiful, is just too cold there!!! In North America grew up in Connecticut. I went to university Washington, D.C. I spent seven years in Chicago, when I worked at Motorola's headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois. Then I went on assignments to New Mexico, did stints in Taiwan, Ireland, Costa Rica. After that came my four-year China posting, to Tianjin. 

Then I went back to Libertyville, Motorola for a strategy role. I spent eight months there before I moved back to Asia, this last time to Singapore which has allowed me to support and engage with our operations well around the world.


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