Kevin Huang, CEO at Pixels, shares his views on delegating, talent development, and being the wise man in the company.
Q. How would you describe your leadership style?
As a growing organisation in the fast-evolving digital advertising industry, I believe that I need to be on the ground with my customers and colleagues alike to ensure that I personally am updated on the latest industry developments and most importantly, our customers’ needs so that we can evolve our products and services to meet them. I am also a big believer in empowerment and allow some of the best people in our company the freedom to make decisions that are right for the company and our customers.
Q. You founded Pixels' predecessor in 2002. As the company has grown, what's the main difference between your role then and now?
We started with a team of four including myself in Hong Kong in 2002 and at that time, the business and industry was pale in comparison to what it is today. Due to the size of our business and total headcount, I was hands on - from sales, business development, PR, marketing, and ad operations, to even administrative matters in the first several years of our business. I knew every detail of what was involved.
Fast forward 15 years, I now manage a total staff count of 150+ across six markets spanning from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. We have a strong and passionate leadership team who are domain experts in the field and their respective departments.
So today, I no longer get involved with every aspect of the business but rely on my direct reports to carry out their duties. I still know about everything, but rely on my team to execute and carry out what matters most to the long term strategic direction of business and the day to day operational needs. I provide direction, mentorship and evaluate opportunities, and keep a look out for the next big thing in our sector.
Aside from ensuring we evolve to meet our customers’ needs, my second major task is talent development. My goal is to ensure we continuously grow the skill sets of our current staff and help identify future needs. As part of that, I make myself available to any staff to help resolve any issues they may have. Being employee number one, I am often regarded as the wise man in the company; I help ensure stability and give assurance and advice to our colleagues especially as our business evolves.
Q. What is your view of HR as a function? And how do you think it can contribute better to organisational goals?
Traditionally, HR has been viewed as recruitment and administrative. However, due to evolving organisational needs I see HR being developed into a talent development role to help attract some of the best industry talent and to help them grow within the company and outside of that. In addition, HR should assist all colleagues in upgrading their skills.
HR departments are integral to helping companies reach their goals, in particular ours since we’re a business that’s highly dependent on our people. Getting the right person in and continuously helping them achieve their career goals as well as organisational goals can help contribute to a company’s success.
Q. Where do you feel your HR department adds the most value?
HR adds a lot of value as a bridge between management and staff and vice versa. The industry and our company are continuously evolving and so are staff needs and aspirations. It is important that we communicate constantly to each other.
Q. Your company has gone through both a merger and an acquisition under your leadership. How do you minimise the impact on staff?
To be open, honest, transparent and continuously communicate with them. We’ve been fortunate that the M&A has gone through with little disruption on day to day operations. When we announced the acquisition of Pixels by Gravity4, we held a town hall to ensure everyone knew the who, what, when, where and how’s of the acquisition. Subsequent to that, we held smaller town halls in smaller groups so that staff could ask more questions if needed within their departments. Needless to say, I relied heavily on my management team to help communicate everything.
Q. What’s your secret to keeping staff motivated?
I wish I had one but I don’t. It’s a continuous process of listening, learning, implementing, often making mistakes and going at it again. I believe that each staff has his/her own motivating factor and we try our best to meet them either individually or collectively. As an organisation, our motivating factor is to be a trusted partner for brands who are increasingly making investments in digital marketing.
Q. How do you like to spend your free time?
Often reading industry periodicals and learning about new developments in technology, advertising and seeing how those might be relevant to our customer and business. Since we were also once a public company, I’ve developed a joy of reading public company announcements, IPO prospectuses and annual reports of our industry peers and customers. You’d be surprised how much you can find out about companies in them. It’s all in the fine print.
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