InterviewsWomen in Print

Harmony is Necessary to Create a Productive and Happy Team

ME Printer speaks to Pui Chi Li, the Head of Marketing for the Middle East and Africa at Xerox, about her leadership style, her entry into the printing and graphics arts industry, and the importance of women in the print industry

Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy?
My leadership style is definitely collaborative and supportive, firmly believing that we are stronger and better together. Harmony is necessary to create a productive and happy team who can work together and achieve more than the sum of the parts.

Creating this environment for my team is one of my top priorities when it comes to people management. Empowering members of my team and giving them the space to grow and exercise their creativity, enables us to get the best out of people.

What made you choose Printing and Graphics Industry as a career opportunity?
Initially – like many young people – I joined an industry rather by coincidence, after pursuing a job listing for a role I believed would be a prospective one in a region I felt was dynamic. That industry happened to be Printing & Graphics, and the real choice I made was to stay in this field.

Over the last decade, an industry that was once focused on the printed page is now so much more; expanding fully into the digitization of the workplace, embracing IoT, all the way to entering new spaces such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality. To have this opportunity and be part of this intersection and transition from the physical world to the digital one brings new challenges and opportunities which make every day feeling fresh and exciting.

What was your most interesting job?
Very early in my working career, I had the opportunity to organize a large celebratory event for one of the stock exchanges in Europe. Due to the scale of the event which gathered over 1000 attendees, there was significant scope for creativity.

It was my first experience interacting with creative agencies, defining themes and delivering a project end-to-end. In the end, we held the event in a building that was marked for demolition in six months where we invited artists to carve into the building’s flooring to create beautiful pieces of art that were later sold to raise money for charity.

What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of Print and related industry?
Understanding the field you’re working in is critical and spending time interacting with customers is the best way to achieve this. My advice to women is to spend time with the full spectrum, from the large corporate customers with printing facilities all the way to the smaller print houses who run on a shoestring budget –because each represents a learning opportunity on how to add more value to the customer.

You also need to define what you want and what matters most to you; go into the details and thoroughly understand the layers and different elements involved in your work field. This will form your core values and stake on the ground, which will drive everything you do to achieve your business goals. Women in the workplace frequently take on an amicable persona and lose sight of their own goals in favour of other pressures and demands—thus, having a clear goal in mind will help you overcome these challenges.

What is the greatest transformation in the printing that you’ve witnessed in your career?
The advent and proliferation of the smart mobile device is by far the most significant transformation. The evolution of this has moved quickly from being a personal device to a business essential tool that has fundamentally changed the way we work and interact with one another.

New industries have been created and expanded based on the prospects of increasing employees’ productivity and improving their daily usage of print technologies. Legacy-rich companies, such as Xerox, continue their high investment efforts to maintain their leading market status by working with their customers.

What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the print and graphics industry?
The next phase of transformation for the Print Industry is already underway; to extend print beyond paper. Application of augmented reality (AR) is an excellent example of how Xerox is working with partners to develop a ‘hidden code’ where customers can assimilate information from a physical document using their smart devices, to obtain additional dynamic content. Beyond this, there are other opportunities for exploring new materials and aspects for better utilizing creatively to transform the print industry. 

Are you involved in any sort of volunteer work? Can you give us some details?
I believe that paying back to society is everyone’s responsibility. There will be times when we can do more and other times where we tend to scale back. Some of the activities I participate in include assembling Christmas present boxes for disadvantaged children and volunteering during the winter months to hand out much needed warm clothing and hot meals to the homeless when they are most vulnerable. This is an important aspect of work-life balance for my own sense of internal harmony but also plays a vital role in my contribution to society.

What’s next for you in terms of your career in the printing industry?
It is an exciting time to be part of the printing industry, we are evolving and finding innovative ways to better connect and add value to our customers across the technology and work field spectrum. In such a dynamic environment, there are many avenues to explore but continuing to work closely with our partners and customers, implementing key strategies and driving innovation into reality will be my key areas of focus.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of ME Printer magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional print industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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