Kien Foh Lo– A Dedicated Front Runner Driven to Achieve Excellence

interior electronic systems| OEM customers| human resources| entrepreneurs| entrepreneurs
Kien Foh Lo | President & CEO | Continental Automotive Singapore

A successful business leader is efficient in making sound decisions and treats everyone equally, no matter the circumstance. He/she leads the team with enthusiasm and works hard to instill in them qualities such as dedication, perseverance, teamwork, integrity, and so on. They never give up at the face of adversity and introduce innovative solutions to every problem. Their sole focus is not only to achieve company goals, but also to ensure the development of each and every employee.

One such success-driven and growth-focused leader is Kien Foh Lo, the President & CEO of Continental Automotive Singapore. After graduating with a Bachelor in Engineering from the Nanyang Technological Institute in 1988, he joined Philips Car Systems as an electronic engineer. He worked on schematic circuit, ranging from analogue and power circuitry to digital signal analysis. Eventually, Kien Foh expanded the scope to perform PCB layout, starting with single and later multi-layer PCB design. Throughout his service tenure, he gained the valuable experience of working closely with the automotive OEM customers in Australia, transforming their requirements to product realization by performing numerous in-depth joint field tests with the customers. Eventually, Kien Foh moved on to obtain his Master of Engineering in 1994.

An Inspiring Journey

In 1998, Kien Foh headed the Electronic, Mechanical, and Software teams and later on, the complete Product Development group which included product validation in 2000. He proceeded to lead the R&D team in Singapore to design and develop infotainment and multimedia products for the aftermarket and automotive OEM customers worldwide.

Kien Foh took over the position of Director of R&D in 2004, followed by the Vice President of R&D in 2006 where he led both the teams in Singapore and China to design and develop all interior electronic systems in the vehicle for the worldwide aftermarket and OEM customers. In 2007, he ascended to the position of COO, overseeing the complete life cycle of all programs, projects, quality, processes, purchasing, human resources and finance & controlling. To broaden his knowledge, Kien Foh later obtained a Master of Finance in 2010.

Kien Foh eventually took responsibility of the Singapore office and became the Managing Director of Continental Automotive Singapore in 2010, where he also served as a Director of the Board. Throughout his rich tenure of over 30 years with the company, he has experienced various company mergers and acquisitions. Kien Foh’s dedication paid off and finally in 2019, he was appointed as the President & CEO of Continental Automotive Singapore.

An Enthusiastic and Cooperative Leader

I will just use three words to describe myself. I am forward-looking, positive and pragmatic”, states Kien Foh. He is a person who always looks forward with a positive attitude, to seek for practical and workable solutions. He believes in staying consistent in behaving and working with others. Kien Foh further says, “I do what I preach or in other words, “Walk-the-Talk” is what I expect from myself and my leaders. I enjoy giving my leaders the freedom to act and the empowerment to perform and grow”.

He is driven by the burning desire to achieve more and the strong passion to put Continental Singapore consistently on the world map. By establishing Continental Singapore as a well-recognized and competent R&D powerhouse in the automotive industry,  we continuously contribute to Continental as a whole and thereby adding values to the customers.

The Success Mantra

For Kien Foh, success means reaching a point beyond the limit one sets for oneself. Under his ardent leadership, the company focuses on enhancing the customers’ competitiveness and exceed stakeholders’ expectations, through value addition and innovative solutions. “If customers come back to us with more business, our shareholders are happy with our performance, and our employees and people in the industry see us as the employer of choice, I would be happy to say that we are successful”, adds Kien Foh.

He attributes the company’s success to its matured leadership team and the dedicated staff in the organization. With the right leadership, attitude, capabilities, the relevant technical competence that it is constantly building up, and the strong passion-to-win mindset, the company is enabling itself to propel far in the industry. While embracing change, the company is not afraid to make changes to stay relevant. Kien Foh believes that this attribute will lead them to where they want to be, a renowned R&D Center.

The company also believes in lifelong learning and the intensive sharing of knowledge which are necessary to the development of innovative ideas and solutions. The employees are constantly trained to develop new skillsets or enhance their existing diverse competences.

 Tackling Challenges Head-On

This fast-paced technological age calls for each player to stay abreast with the rapid evolution of technology to remain at the top of the mountain. The company’s products have become more sophisticated, packed with advanced features, which need to remain increasingly interconnected. This constant increase in complexity has always remained a challenge for Continental, which it faces confidently.

Kien Foh feels that growing from just one product line to a multi-product line organization will definitely help in handling this complexity. Building up more specialized and competent teams and at the same time creating synergy among the product lines, allows the company to tap into the different competences from the different product lines. This will provide a good leverage in utilizing and multiplying its resources.

In the rapid buildup of our R&D competence center, we are constantly focusing on the recruitment and placement of the best engineers, training them and getting them ready for the most suitable task in the shortest time. For me, this is a challenging yet one of the most rewarding tasks for our organization”, he says.

About Continental

Established in 1871, Continental develops pioneering technologies and services for sustainable and connected mobility of people and their goods. It focuses on delivering safe, efficient, intelligent, and affordable solutions for vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. In 2018, the company generated sales of €44.4 billion and currently employs more than 240,000 people in 60 countries and markets.

 Continental in Singapore consists of mainly R&D engineers. The company’s current workforce is more than 1,400 employees, and it plans to grow the number to more than 2,000 in the next few years. The focus in Singapore is to innovate technology, create product platforms and develop in-car products for its automotive customers. Other than that, it is also working with the automotive and non-automotive customers on mobility solutions and services.

The Success Saga

Under the exceptional leadership of Kien Foh, Continental has achieved many noteworthy landmarks. Throughout his 30 years of experience in the company, he has led many mergers and acquisitions.

The company opened its first R&D center in Singapore in 2012 to meet the demand of its growing engineering capacities, and then its second building in 2014, followed by the newest addition – the third building in 2018. “Those were great milestones in our quest to grow the organization in Singapore, and it did give us the sense of achievement”, says Kien Foh.

For him, one of the most satisfying moments was when the company managed to have a safe and successful launch of a newly developed product and deliver to the customers according to their requirement and specification.  The numerous recognitions given by the customers over the years made Kien Foh proud of what Continental has achieved.

Another great achievement within the company is the leadership team that has developed and matured together over the years. “Without this team, we will not be where we are today”, he adds. From this leadership team, more competent leadership and engineering teams have emerged.

Other than that, Continental in Singapore has successfully formed good collaborations with industry players, the government agencies, and the universities. For example, the joint lab with A*STAR’s I2R and TUM CREATE resulted in the launch of the Park&Go @SG mobile app in 2015. Working with universities like NTU, SIT, DigiPen, just to name a few, has also yielded very positive and fruitful results. A good example is the successful creation, definition, and implementation of a new university degree curriculum to enable more engineers to be ready for the automotive and ITS industry.

Future Forward

Kien Foh believes that with continuous expansion in the location, the company will grow in manpower and technical competence to more than 2,000 employees in the next few years. “Our key focus is to create an innovative and inclusive competent workforce, to strive to be ahead of time and be future ready – foreseeing the future and developing the right technology for the future”, he says. Kien Foh also adds that the key goal of Continental is to create and add value to the customers and stakeholders by providing innovative, quality-driven, and environmentally-friendly solutions.

Valuable Words

Addressing the emerging entrepreneurs, Kien Foh says, “We are living in a VUCA world. The business environment is transforming, consumer behavior is changing, and customer expectation is rising. New technology is evolving in a faster pace than what we imagine. Hence, for budding entrepreneurs, your passion is your driving force”. He asks the youngsters to weather the challenges and ride on the opportunities that come along the way. Kien Foh encourages them to be bold and versatile to adapt quickly to stay relevant in the changing environment.

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