Thursday, July 23, 2009

Panasonic: More R&D talents required

The hardest hit industry at the times of economic turmoil would usually be manufacturing, and that means the electronic and electrical equipment producers as well. We have heard of retrenchment and job freezes announcement coming from this sector. Yet, there are still good news, and this time it comes from Panasonic.

In an exclusive interview with JobsDB Malaysia, Panasonic Management Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s director, Mikio Matsui noted that the company is expanding its Research & Development (R&D) centre in Malaysia and is seeking talents to be part of it.

“Regardless of the function in the company, we always need new human resources, and now we wish to highlight the importance of R&D function more in Malaysia,” he said.

He pointed out that this was in contrast with in early days (Panasonic set up its business in Malaysia back in 1965), the jobs available for Malaysians has always been labour intensive.

“Now, Malaysia is no longer a country for cheaper labour, compared to other countries in this region,” Matsui said, “Panasonic understand this point, and at the same time Malaysia has been very successfully developing young talents in R&D.”

The company’s assistant general Manager, Wytinne Cheng, noted that in Malaysia alone there are 400 engineers working in the R&D centres throughout Malaysia. Panasonic has 20 companies in Malaysia consisting of manufacturing plants, R&D centres, sales & services companies and management offices with diversified business segments.

“Not many know this, but we have a software lab in Cyberjaya, which started with 20 staff, and now we are planning to expand it to 200 people,” Cheng said.

Matsui said that with Malaysia’s growth in the technology field, it was about time that R&D arena should be expanded here.

“We are confident that Malaysia can offer more R&D talents,” said Matsui, adding that, specifically, there is demand for engineers specializing in electrical, electronics, mechanical, software, computer science and information technology.

“There are also some openings for professionals in finance, sales & marketing and human resource,” Matsui said.

He also added that Malaysia has other advantages in terms of human resource, apart from the required talents.

“We have been here for more than 40 years, and we have been feeling very comfortable with Malaysia and the people,” Matsui said. “People from any country have their own culture and identity. Malaysia is multi-cultural and because of this the people here have good adaptability to different cultures. We strongly appreciate this feature.

He also noted that Malaysians have good command of English, an international language for trade and business. “It’s a good advantage; if we go to other nations in this region, you may not see that,” he added.

Matsui noted that the doors are always open for talents looking to be part of the company’s rich culture and legacy. “We give opportunities to ambitious people to create and market innovative products & solutions that enrich lives all around the world,” he added.

The company celebrated 90th year in business last year, and prides itself over the legacy left behind by its founder, Tan Sri Konosuke Matsushita, which emphasized on strong employer and employee relationship.

“When he was asked what he was producing in the company, he answered, ‘no doubt we are producing electrical and electronic product, but before that, we develop the people.’,” recalled Matsui. “In short he always maintained that in Panasonic, we develop the people before the product.”

Cheng noted that new recruits are always given training and education on the company’s basic corporate values – most of which are constituted in its Basic Business Principle, drafted by its founder.

“Sometimes competency can be learned and experience can be acquired through time, but I think it’s important for employee share same value and goal, and everyone move towards same direction,” said Cheng, noting that BBP is the “common language” the company uses throughout the world.

On the ongoing economic turmoil, Matsui noted that the company has always been ready for any form of uncertainties.

“In very good time, we should never relax. In bad times, we should work harder,” Matsui said, “This is the kind of DNA we inherited from our founder. He mentioned that both good times and bad times are equally acceptable; the bad time is for us to get ready for the next booming time.”

Known as one fo the largest electronic product manufacturers in the world, the company has around 305,828 staff force as of last year, and more than 17,000 employees in Malaysia alone.