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Friday, August 30, 2019

Experiencing the Front-line to Develop Lean Management

August 30, 2019. Shanghai – As part of our Global EMBA programme, CEIBS provides students with opportunities to apply academic concepts to real business practices. By studying real cases from the business world, CEIBS helps students better understand management skills beyond the classroom, and really apply what they have learnt to their work.

On August 30, CEIBS Global EMBA students visited Seagate in Wuxi together with students and alumni  from the CEIBS Chinese EMBA, Hospitality EMBA, and AMP programmes. Seagate Wuxi Senior Engineering Director Jimmy Sin (Global EMBA 2018) introduced the company's development and it technological changes.

In the current global economic climate, more and more manufacturing plants are relocating to Southeast Asia and Seagate's Chinese labour costs are close to double that of Thailand. Faced with these challenges, Vice President of Wuxi Operations Hunter Huang shared with the group how Seagate continuously improves its efficiency by utilising lean concepts that include cross-departmental collaboration, internal training and a bottom-up employee suggestion scheme. Together, these activities have generated tremendous value for the company and have transformed the company’s Wuxi operations from a manufacturing plant into a leading manufacturing innovation site.

In order to improve its manufacturing efficiency, Seagate focuses heavily on training its employees. In addition, many improvements are designed and optimised by front-line operators and technicians. These employees are grouped into small operations units, each consisting of process engineers, line technicians, supervisors and station operators. These units work closely to continuously solve issues in a timely fashion and their experiences are shared amongst different units. This set-up significantly reduces the time needed to resolve and manage inefficiencies.

At the same time, Seagate Wuxi empowers its employees to organise a variety of staff activities on a regular basis. One of these events is called “Kaizen Day”, where they invite the frontline operators to share their experience, after which the company presents awards to employees with the most innovative sharing. As part of “The Day Programme”, administration staff experience a full day's work on the assembly line to help develop empathy amongst employees. Seagate also pays great attention to the balance between work and life. When new employees join the company, they are assigned a senior staff member from another department as a mentor to help them adapt to the new culture and guide their work.

The participants in the company visit were impressed with Seagate's refinement of its employee training and acquired a deep understanding of its management philosophy. As a Chinese saying goes, “Success comes to those who share in the same goal.” While the company provides employees with various platforms to help them grow, employees are empowered and more willing to contribute to the company. Many of the solutions at Seagate Wuxi come from employees. They discover problems, seek solutions, and continuously improve and optimise the quality of the solutions.

The concept and practice of lean management at Seagate Wuxi helped the participants to broaden their horizons and think more proactively about cutting-edge developments in a dynamic business world. This is one of the primary purposes of the Global EMBA programme company visits. Relying on the rich resources of the CEIBS community, students can further their business learnings with company visits, combining theoretical knowledge with business practice.


Here are some comments from participants following the visit:


Jimmy Sin | Senior Engineering Director, Seagate Wuxi

CEIBS Global EMBA 2018

“It was a great experience to be able to interact with classmates and alumni from various backgrounds and professions. We learned a lot from each other. I also hope that the visitors got some inspiration from our corporate culture and now have a better understanding of the data storage industry.”


Margaret Yang | Executive Director, Strategic Development, Sumin Investment Holdings Co., Ltd.

CEIBS Global EMBA 2013

“The visit to Seagate Wuxi gave us a comprehensive understanding of its history, corporate culture, challenges and opportunities. It was especially interesting to learn how, faced with China's labour cost being twice as high as that of Southeast Asian countries, Seagate Wuxi guarantees its sustainable and healthy development, implements low-cost automated micro-innovation, and creates a good working environment for its 6,000 employees.”


Olivier D'arros  | Managing Partner, MAVIE Technologies

CEIBS Global EMBA 2016

“It's always a great pleasure to go beyond the classroom to learn best practices with our Global EMBA students and alumni. We went to multinationals to see how they implement 'glocalisation' and their China strategy. We also visited Chinese companies to understand their challenges in going abroad. From an international student's perspective, it’s very interesting to deepen our understanding of what it takes for global companies to succeed in China and for Chinese companies to break through in the global market.”


Sonya Li  | HR Director & Assistant to CEO, JC Medical

CEIBS Global EMBA 2018

“I'm impressed by the engagement and diversity of the Seagate team and how they develop and retain their talent. There are various programmes for employees of different functions and levels – from engineers to blue collar workers and from new hires to veterans. Now we know why Seagate employees have an average service tenure of seven years and where their high efficiency comes from. I'd like to implement these good practices into my own work.”


Tim Li  | General Manager, Sky Facilities Management

CEIBS Hospitality EMBA 2019

“The Seagate company visit organised by Global EMBA was a great experience. The most impressive learning points of the visit were the insightful sharing by the Seagate Wuxi plant manager and the passion of the Seagate employees and more importantly, its lean management and continuous “Kaizen”. The big CEIBS community and interaction between CEIBS alumni helps us to keep learning and continue to grow.”