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Monday, September 10, 2018

Unravelling Honeywell's Secrets to Innovation

September 10, 2018. Shanghai Despite the scorching summer heat, CEIBS students have remained committed to the pursuit of knowledge. On the afternoon of August 15, 30 Global EMBA and EMBA students and alumni paid a visit to Honeywell Technology Solutions China. Wang Wenjie, a Global EMBA 2017 student and Honeywell's APAC IT Director, gave them a tour of the innovation-driven tech-centric Fortune 500 company’s facilities. First, they took a look at an array of high-tech products in the company‘s showroom in order to better understand Honeywell’s multiple lines of business. They then heard from Vice President & General Manager of Honeywell Technology Solutions China Wesley Luo and visited an incubator within the company known as the “Honeywell In-house Startup” before visiting the company’s new headquarters, which is certified as a smart building. Students noted that what impressed them the most during their visit was Honeywell’s efforts towards in-house innovation and the positive results it had achieved.

In addition to class lectures delivered by top-notch professors, the CEIBS Global EMBA Programme maintains a strong appeal in terms of extracurricular activities which extend learning beyond the classroom. As well sharing their professional experience outside of the classroom, industry leaders are also regularly invited to speak during in-class sessions. Global EMBA students also organise cultural events and make company visits with other Chinese EMBA students. Company visits are a big hit with the students and the most recent company visit was to Han Hui Pharmaceuticals in Hangzhou.

Peer learning can make students into better, more well-rounded businesspeople. Global EMBA students come from all walks of life and learn from each other to get a clear picture of each industry so as to broaden their horizon and gain more experience in company operations. Company visits provide valuable hands-on experience, allowing students to closely examine different operations systems.

Honeywell is a Fortune 100 company in the U.S. that delivers industry-focused solutions, with a wide range of businesses, from aviation and automobile products and services to control technologies for buildings, housing, and industry to performance materials. Honeywell has become an industry leader in most of these fields.

Though it can sometimes seem like an impossible mission to push innovation forward within a large company, Honeywell has achieved this and has promoted its renowned model—the Honeywell In-house Startup—in other regions around the world. The Honeywell In-house Startup operates as a startup in which engineers assemble teams for the development of new projects. The incubation of each project spans three to six months. After the end of the incubation, engineers can return to their original post. Teams that are engaged in project incubation enjoy a great deal of autonomy and they can sell their products within the company, directly access the market, or transfer technology. So far, 85 engineers and 60% of Honeywell China’s research fellows have participated in project incubation at the Honeywell In-house Startup.

The Honeywell In-house Startup left a deep impression on the students who participated in the visit. The creative blackboard presented not only a variety of projects, but also illustrated what lay behind the projects’ success or failure so that later participants could draw lessons from them. At the case-sharing session, students got a look at an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of monitoring the operation of solar panels. Some of them who were already keeping abreast of emerging technologies had many questions for Honeywell’s research fellows. Brainstorming which came out of the discussion sparked additional creative ideas.

The “Honeywell In-house Startup”, Honeywell’s internal startup incubator

Apart from the brainstorming session at the Honeywell In-house Startup, students were given access to a variety of high-tech products at the Honeywell Technology Experience Centre. In a cockpit simulator, they learned how to pilot a plane in a safer way with a piece of smart software. They then tried out a police uniform made from special material which is soft, but also 15 times stronger than steel. Students also had a face-to-face discussion about how to establish an innovation system within a company with the Vice President & General Manager of Honeywell Technology Solutions China. Here are some of their comments following the visit:

Ori Schnitzer, CEIBS Global EMBA 2017

“Having spent the last 12 years in startups, it was eye-opening for me to see a large organisation such as Honeywell nurture a culture that embraces entrepreneurship. It isn’t easy to be at the forefront of technological innovation and it seems Honeywell succeeds in maintaining its position as the leader in some of the world’s most competitive industries by balancing its experience, scale, and reach with the freedom it provides its employees to think outside of the box and present ideas for new ventures. It was interesting to review the various ecosystems Honeywell operates in with its unique offerings and I am still curious to learn more about management and control in an organization of this size.”

Wang Shu, CEIBS EMBA 2017 (Chinese Language Programme)

“Despite the rapid growth of the private economy, changes in government policy, and rising costs in China, foreign-funded companies have tried to adapt to China’s ever-changing business environment by reshaping their core competencies. Honeywell China has provided us with part of the solution by focusing on innovation in order to grasp opportunities in the region. I have benefited immensely from this visit.”

Julia Zhou, CEIBS Global EMBA 2014 

“It is always fascinating to be a CEIBS alumni and the journey of learning never stops after graduation. We saw some amazing new products from various industries such as aerospace, automobile, home appliances, and rescue which showed an energetic company driven by innovation and technology. Their impressive new building reveals a human aspect in everything from air index to desks and chairs.
The Honeywell In-house Startup has demonstrated a remarkable delivery rate and has generated increased revenue via brilliant ideas. As one alumni visitor commented, this is really a bar-raising company visit which would not have happened without the effort of CEIBS alumni and the faculty team.” 

Michael D. Thede