Gabriel Montadaro; Tips and Challenges for a Global Executive

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IT is work that has given Gabriel Montadaro the opportunity to travel the world in particular Asia. Gabriel has been working in Bangkok since January 2009 as sales director of Philips Lighting Thailand.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I get the chance to learn the culture and traditions of another nation as well as management style in a foreign country and it is an opportunity to collaborate and interact with various foreign colleagues,” said the 37-year-old executive.

Gabriel works in a foreign country not because of the high salary, perks and career prospects, but because the new country offers numerous wonders to explore such as enchanting panoramic scenery, a unique culture and a brand new experience.

He said that working in a foreign country provided him with many benefits such as the development of his career and enriched his work experience as well as personal life.

Actually since his first job 16 years ago Gabriel has been determined to find a job that can give him the opportunity to work in a foreign country. His career started in 1993 at paper manufacturing plant PT Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia, a subsidiary of Sinar Mas Group and his first job was as export supervisor with the mandate to open distribution channels in a number of ASEAN member countries.

Thailand is in fact not the first foreign country in his career. In 2003 Gabriel worked in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he was regional country manager for Wings group which is a company headquartered in Surabaya.

In the middle of 2007 Gabriel, a graduate of business administration, majoring in marketing from Philippine School of Business Administration, joined Philips Lighting as consumer channel development manager taking care of six ASEAN member countries and was first assigned to the Philippines before being finally sent over to Thailand as sales director in early 2009.

His current position is consumer channel sales director for lighting products. Consumer channel is divided into two sections, namely trade retail channel that covers shops selling electric equipment and modern channel that includes hypermarkets, supermarkets, cash & carry stores and department stores.

“I am responsible for sales target and cost control as well as operational aspects such as recruitment, training, managing distributors and sales team, coaching, and also tactical trade marketing programs,” he explained.

Besides, the benefits there are certainly challenges as well, he acknowledged. “There is a pleasant and unpleasant side to working with foreigners or with Indonesians. But therein lies the challenge as we have to be smart and hands on all the time to earn their respect,” he said.

Hard work is one of his mottos for achievement. As a global executive he has succeeded in maintaining the market share of Philips Lighting making it number one and a market leader in Thailand. He has also succeeded in developing sustainable business growth through quality organizational development.

“We continuously communicate regarding Philips’ position as the leader with sophisticated and innovative products through a campaign called ‘Save energy using Philips Energy saving lamps’ for the benefit of our consumers,” said Gabriel.

He admitted that he had no particular recipe for success in working in a foreign country. “The important thing is to ‘think globally, act locally’, which means we must respect their culture as well as management style,” he added.

However one must always think and act positively for the benefit of the company as well. Gabriel has to ensure he collaborates with all internal and external stakeholders in order to achieve customer satisfaction and to retain customer loyalty for the company’s products.

He must do all of this while maintaining Philips’ cultural values, namely: Delight Customers, Delivery on Commitment, Develop People, and Depend on each other. These are the values that every Philips employee must adhere to wherever they are.

Gabriel feels fortunate that until now he has not experienced a clash of cultures in his career or daily life as according to him Bangkok is very similar to Jakarta and other major Asian cities. The only handicap is language because he has had to master Thai a little for daily communication with his colleagues and customers.

Should there be a survey of favorite destinations to live in then Gabriel feels certain that Thailand will be among the top five countries. The people are friendly, it has a rich culture, various tourism resorts; it is a culinary heaven, a paradise for shopping and so on.

“All this makes Thailand one a favorite to work and live in,” he asserted.

Gabriel loves traveling and has had lots to explore. There are numerous pristine beaches and scenic islands in the southern part of Thailand, including the world famous Phuket, Koh Phi Phi island where The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed, Koh Tapu, which is a small island that suddenly became famous after it was used as the location of a James Bond film, The Man with Golden Gun, in 1974.

“In short there are dozens of beautiful beaches in Thailand,” he asserted.

After the Philippines and Thailand Gabriel does not know where he will be assigned next. However one day he will come home just like any other Indonesian professional who is working abroad.

“Indonesia is my true home and one day I would like to work there and contribute to its further development,” he said. (Burhan Abe)

The Jakarta Post, November 20, 2010

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