Malaysia itself is its greatest brand: John Brosnan

THIS week we get the thoughts and views of BAE Systems Malaysia & Southeast Asia managing director John Brosnan.

What traits do you look for in your talent or how do you decide who is right for a job?
The most important factor in the recruitment process is personality. For example, I ask myself can this person bring something to our team that will enhance our capability. Will this person be a good fit for our team? We need positive people who want to learn and are not afraid of asking questions and challenging assumptions. People with enthusiasm and initiative to step and undertake a task which requires attention without waiting to be asked. I am proud of my team as they do this every day and I always want to hear from people who feel they can offer BAE Systems the benefit of their expertise.

How do you think the industry you are in will evolve in the future?
There are already trends developing in the defence sector, which will continue in the future. For example there will be far greater collaboration between nations and companies to deliver new aircraft, ships and land vehicles. There will also be big opportunities for companies with project management experience and capability to help countries who have traditionally purchased platforms to develop their own. This transfer of technology and ability to work closely with partners is already at the heart of our approach to serving our customers.

What advice can you offer those looking to start their career/own business?
I think there are several factors which are helpful to think about at every stage in your career. The ability to listen and learn and not being afraid to change course if necessary, are important from a personal point of view. While remaining open to new business practices and technology are important from the practical side.

We all know about the industrial revolution, are we in for a technological revolution? Your thoughts.
The opportunities offered by technology are very exciting and are creating new business models in their own right, for example BAE Systems is investigating 3D printing where it could be possible in the future to manufacture aircraft parts on demand from remote locations globally. This will be a game changer for prime contractors such as BAE Systems in our ability to serve our clients. But the bigger opportunity we must grasp with this is to ensure that we take our supply chain with us in order to guarantee a fully integrated service.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional life?
I benefited from the advice and encouragement of a mentor at various stages in my career and I now act as a mentor myself. We are all busy but it is valuable to take the time to consider different ways of approaching challenges and listen to others about their experiences. Often a unique situation isn’t quite as unique as you thought it was and your mentor can trigger some ideas for you to consider in dealing with the situation you face.

What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?
My plan over the next five years is to work with our Malaysian partners to deliver solutions, upgrades and equipment to the Malaysian armed services to protect the country. As the largest supplier to the Malaysian armed forces BAE Systems is in a unique position to work with our partners to offer affordable new equipment and transformational upgrades to existing equipment to deliver more for less. I want to grow our cyber offering in KL which already employs over 350 Malaysians to protect more Malaysian companies from the effects of cyber-crime. BAE Systems is a world class engineering company developing some of the most advanced technology in the world. I want to bring this technology and expertise to Malaysia through the selection by the RMAF of the Typhoon fast jet aircraft as the next generation aircraft for the air force. If selected, this programme will create jobs and opportunities for thousands of Malaysians.

Most admired business leader? Why?
I admire Tan Sri Tony Fernandes because he demonstrates that with drive and passion you can build an enterprise which generates value and enriches the lives of others. His airline makes travel possible for people who previously struggled to fly and who wouldn’t want to own a Premier League football club.

How do you stay abreast of issues affecting your industry?
BAE Systems is a complex company providing security and defence solutions across the land, sea, air cyber domains. To keep abreast of issues, it’s important to get out of the office and visit company and partner facilities to spend time with the teams to better understand the challenges they face. I also try to attend exhibitions and conferences to listen to other industry players and learn more about global trends and the impact they may have on the business climate. It’s a stimulating, rewarding and essential part of my role.

Malaysia's greatest brand.
I think Malaysia itself is its greatest brand. Wherever I am in the world, I meet people who talk to me about the country. The luscious scenery, beautiful beaches, exciting cities, friendly people and of course the wonderful food. Few other countries or companies have such a positive and recognisable brand.

A must-read for every business owner/manager is ...
When I was completing my MBA I found a book by P.M Senge called the Fifth Discipline to be very insightful. Senge encourages managers to consider problem solving in the whole rather than in the usual piecemeal approach our agendas often dictate. He puts great emphasis on the importance of a long term approach, including continual training which I believe are important to the success of any enterprise.