TÜV Rheinland Taiwan's new Managing Director outlines priorities
In her interview with Euroview, TÜV Rheinland Taiwan’s new Managing Director Jennifer Wang spoke about her desire to promote environmental protection, increase diversity, and bring a dose of youthful dynamism to local operations
Could you tell us a little about your background, education, and work experience?
I was born and raised in Taiwan but moved to Canada when I was 11 and studied political science and public relations in Canada. Then I moved into the technical world. Much of my working experience has been in rail projects in multiple countries. My first job was actually working for a Japanese company on construction of Taiwan’s high-speed rail. After that I worked on many projects overseas, including in South East Asia, Macau, and the United States. I started working for TÜV Rheinland in 2014 as a Senior Project Manager, then experienced various management roles including in Business Field Rail, Business Planning and Tender Management, Products Business Stream, and the Central Support Team. After my predecessor decided to retire in November 2020, I was offered the role of Managing Director.
What do you think have been your most valuable work experiences so far? What lessons have you learnt and how do you think this experience will help you in your new role in Taiwan?
I found from my experience in Japan that women are not taken as seriously in Japanese culture. Many large Japanese companies remain male dominated and many positions are still not offered to women. This is one reason why I decided to return to Taiwan.
In terms of working environment, while places like Macau and the United States are fairly well regulated, it is more challenging to run operations in some South East Asian countries. I remember when I was working in South East Asia waiting for a contractor to attend a meeting scheduled for 10am. He did not show up until a day later, giving the excuse that he was stuck in traffic. This type of experience was difficult to accept but I learnt to slow down, have more patience, and adapt to different work cultures. I also learnt that customers do not always have the same expectations in terms of quality. Given that TÜV Rheinland has a proud tradition of always demanding the highest safety and quality standards, we have to sometimes find a way of balancing the needs of our clients that only want to meet the minimum legal requirement while also maintaining our high standards.
As the new managing director , what will be your approach and priorities?
The first thing I want to do is to make the organisation “younger”. By that I am not talking about age but rather vibrancy and dynamism as a way to foster innovation. Over the years we have become a little too localised. We have been in Taiwan for 35 years and many of our colleagues have been with us from the start. This is great in terms of experience, but I want to bring about an improvement in dynamism as well as a European touch back into the company. While having a local touch of course has its advantages since we need to interact well with locally based clients, I would like to bring a more international spirit and culture to our organisation, which is also what makes us attractive as an employer to eager young minds who wish to experience an international work culture.
I would like to bring in new European colleagues, either through internships or job rotations. In this way you get different perspectives. In addition, through my experience in South East Asia I was impressed by how innovative some of our colleagues in South East Asia are. I think we can learn from them as well as share our experience. We can do this by increasing the number of job rotations whereby we send our colleagues overseas but also bring in more of our colleagues from overseas, both from Europe and Asia.
Another goal is to improve the gender balance in the workplace. I believe that diversity is not only good for improving the working environment but can actually help to improve productivity and solve problems. Women have traditionally not been well represented in the technology field, but I have noticed from personal experience that bringing more women onto projects brings new perspectives and new approaches to problems. A better gender balance also helps to improve the atmosphere within teams and eventually actually leads to improved overall results.
How has TÜV Rheinland Taiwan been affected the pandemic?
We expected to be hit hard by the pandemic, but we found that the work from home trend and the trend towards automation, actually increased business significantly. The trend towards automation sped up and Taiwanese companies have performed well in robotics, for example. In addition, a lot of R&D has shifted to Taiwan, starting during the pandemic. We also expect returning Taiwanese investors to have a big impact next year. Many construction companies are contracted to build production facilities this year and we expect to see them in operation in the coming years.
Can you give us an update on recent developments at TÜV Rheinland Taiwan?
We currently have around 400 colleagues based in Taiwan. In terms of operations, we are starting to centralise our labs in two main locations in the Linkou District of New Taipei City and the Hua Ya Science Park in the Guishan District of Taoyuan as well as expand capacity at these two locations (which are quite close to each other). Bringing all of our services together will improve our efficiencies. We will also hire additional staff for our added lab capacity and to meet the needs of our customers.
Tell us about your new lab in Taoyuan. What are the main features of the lab and what areas do you plan to focus on?
We are a market leader in terms of safety, and this will remain our focus. One of our largest new investments is in new battery testing facilities to meet the demand for the shift to electric mobility for electric bicycles, scooters, and small passenger cars. We have built a very robust bunker which has walls made of a 30cm layer of concrete plus a 1cm layer of steel to test batteries. This is because pretested batteries could be unsafe and potentially flammable and even explosive. This type of scale is not common in Taiwan. Besides batteries we are also involved in certifying charging stations and autonomous electric buses. We also have an ergonomics and optical lab and an energy efficiency lab. These will offer comprehensive electrical product testing.
What is the outlook for your business in 2021? Which areas do you think will perform better and which will slow down because of the pandemic?
A lot of R&D has gradually shifted to Taiwan, which has increased certification demand for product safety and quality requirements. Besides EVs, other promising areas are green energy, recycling, and circular business models. In addition, we have seen much greater awareness and demand for recycled products, reduction of carbon footprints and energy and water use. We are working with the government and companies to find better ways to reduce energy and use water.
As a strong believer in environmental protection, I am very positive about this trend to consume fewer resources and reduce the impact on the environment and hope to work closer with the government to bring European experience and perspectives on environmental protection issues to Taiwan.