By: Kathryn Gerardino-Elagio
Strategically positioned right in the middle of technological and digital transformations, Integrated Micro-Electronics (IMI) is a Filipino-owned global company with revenues of US$1.2 billion. Mr. Sherwin Nones, Head of Strategic Planning and Marketing, shared with International Metalworking News for Asia how the company is continuously raising invaluable human inputs in design, innovation and creativity, to provide solutions and value to its customers.
IMNA: Tell us something about IMI and what do you do for the company?
Nones: IMI provides EMS (electronics manufacturing services) and power semiconductor assembly. We have 22 factories in more than 10 countries globally. IMI puts together components needed for the manufacturing of electronic devices. We do advanced manufacturing and engineering, and of course assembly. In the early 2000, we decided to go into automotive and industrial; and a few years ago we bought an EMS company in the UK that specialises in aerospace and defence. Right now, the bulk of our revenues is in automotive electronics. I think about 50% of that bulk revenue is from Europe. Since we are heavily entrenched in that segment, we are currently the 6th largest electronics manufacturing services company in the automotive space globally.
I'm currently the head of strategic planning for global corporate operations. This is now my 13th year with IMI. I work with top management, coming up with strategies for mid- to long- term growth, so that we will be able to grow sustainably.
IMNA: Do you have any particular requirement when purchasing materials and processing equipment?
Nones: We do have an extensive procurement group or supply chain group. They're divided into different areas and they have an extensive network from mostly major regions; and because of our activity, we're able to leverage on the competitiveness of the things that we’re able to buy. Yes, we’re definitely purchasing machines and also procuring production systems that could help us in the manufacturing process.
IMNA: How have you set the points in the past to ensure that the company has developed in such a positive manner?
Nones: What we have in the electronics industry is quite different from any other industry because we're very much familiar with disruptions. Over the last four years, there have been so many social political and economic disruptions that basically affected the business. Whether it may be a new technology to global financial crisis or disruptions in trade, including shortage of cheap semiconductor components that is really affecting supply chains globally.
One of the things that we were able to do is set up a risk management system to help mitigate the threats.
The risk management system allows us to be able to put things in autopilot once incidents happen. For example, when the pandemic struck and there were several lockdowns, we were not that surprised because we had the system in place. Though of course the pandemic affected us negatively, it didn't affect us so much that it will be difficult for us to recover. We also heightened our risk management systems to be one step ahead of possible things that can happen. This is also brought by our desire to become a sustainable business over a long period.
IMNA: What can you say about the profit situation in the Philippines?
Nones: Early this year, we had a problem with recommendation shortages and it's not only impacting IMI. In fact, this is impacting globally and basically all OEM's, and not only the automotive. Supply cannot keep up with the demand because of shortage of major components that will be used. This happened because of the pandemic. A lot of automotive factories started to close and production was affected. The number of vehicles that were to be shipped in 2020 went down significantly by 22%, which manufacturers especially the ones that are doing components did not foresee.
When the automotive was down, manufacturers shifted their inventory to the computing sector. As you know, people were staying at home and doing home school and working from home. There's demand for more laptops more storage devices so that's where it's been, and so what happened was they thought that the automotive sector would be recovering over a longer period of time. But it did recover right away because of the demand for electric vehicles; and because of that, manufacturers of semiconductors and components didn't have any more inventory for the automotive sector. Given the state that we are in, it would take a few more months probably by middle of 2022 when things would be able to normalise, and the shortage would be minimised. Everyone is affected, profit levels of companies are affected. For IMI, we are doing our best to be able to minimise or at least mitigate the effects that are happening to us on the supply chain.
IMNA: In your opinion, what is your edge among your competitors?
Nones: In terms of our size and client base, we really don't have any competitors. In fact, I think this is the misunderstanding that most people have in terms of our industry; we don't really compete with other companies. In fact, we encourage more EMS companies to relocate or to establish in the Philippines, whether they are local or foreign. Why? So that the local supply chain would be built or would be attractive enough for global supply chains to source from us. This will also support workers and provide them with the necessary education and skills.
IMNA: Can you tell us about your career, and how do you deal with pressure?
Nones: I make sure that I'm exposed to different environments so that I'll be able to learn and apply many principles in my area of work. I love looking at other industries and see the different ways of how they do things. In this way, I will have an idea on how to deal with challenges. Progressive companies in Europe or in the US require about 15% of the worker's time to be able to spend on things that have no relation to their work.
I enjoy my work. If you cannot handle pressure that means maybe you're not enjoying. So it depends on how one person would be able to enjoy his work. In my case, meeting a lot of people, seeing different industries and learning current technology -- those things to me are fun. You can say that those are the factors behind my success. It's also about the environment. If you work in an environment where you are not supported, and they only want you for what you provide; those things hamper satisfaction or even success however you define it.
IMNA: Finally, how do you see the future, with special reference to IMI?
Nones: With special reference to IMI, I see a future that involves a lot of technology. But the danger here is that if we allow technology to rule over us, we will lose our humanity. We will lose our ability to choose and we will let AI choose for us. We need to be able to strike that balance. The things that we're exploring right now, it's really exactly above and beyond what is currently around us. So it's not only technology but the people driving and not the other way around. You have all these technology but there's a gap that has to be filled. Apart from hard skills, we need soft skills, such as critical thinking, decision making and designing that's what we are trying to build.
Click for E-zine link: International Metalworking News for Asia 12-2021 issue
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