Leaders’ Insights: Philip Brady, Canon

9 Oct 2015

Philip Brady, head of Canon Ireland

Our Leaders’ Insights column today comes from Philip Brady, country manager for Canon in Ireland. Canon manufactures some of the most iconic and popular cameras and imaging products in the world.

Describe your role and what you do.

Canon is a large, multinational Japanese company that offer a broad portfolio of products, solutions and services to both B2B and consumers.

Canon Ireland has a team of 84 people providing sales, marketing and support services to our direct customers and our nationwide reseller network.

As country manager for Canon Ireland, I am responsible for ensuring we provide best in class service to customers and that we maximize our opportunities in the Irish market.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

I would consider myself to be very organised and I’m definitely not a last minute person. Each morning, I review the sales dashboard, which tells me how our monthly sales are tracking.

I ensure that all ‘To Do’ items are meticulously recorded, reviewed daily and actioned. Customer matters will always receive priority.

I’m a firm believer in regular team meetings and one-to-one reports, which keeps you in touch with what’s happening on the ground.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

I would consider ourselves very fortunate that the horrendous downtown had a minimal effect on our sales results and our staff retention. However, we are now in a growth phase and require additional headcount to focus exclusively on business development.

Also, as Canon is evolving to focus on new markets – for example, Solutions Selling – making that change in an organisation that historically focused on hardware is challenging, but we have definitely turned a corner with some significant wins in 2015

What are the key industry opportunities youre capitalising on?

To be honest, we have lots of opportunities to focus on over 2015/16. From display graphics and document management to high-end photography, to name just a few.

The uplift in consumer spending and the revival of the construction, engineering and display graphics sector has seen our Colorwave product win us significant market share. The Colorwave Crystalpoint technology delivers wider graphic applications with high-quality instant dry waterproof prints on a large range of media. For the graphic arts sector, this means versatility and the capacity to be creative and expand to new profitable areas.

Interestingly, we are having lots of enquiries for print companies who supply election posters.

‘During my time with Dell I learned that it is best to take action quickly. Don’t wait for everything to be 100pc before you execute’

With document management, more and more companies are looking to streamline their processes and reduce costs. Our Purchase to Pay offering, which improves productivity fourfold, has won us significant contracts in the government sector.

On the photography front, our award-winning EOS 5DS is the new must have product for professional photographers.

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

In many respects, luck. But as Gary Player, the famous golfer, once said, “The harder you work the luckier you get”.

However, to be associated with a fantastic brand like Canon is an honour. We have iconic products that are feature-rich, highly reliable and we invest heavily in R&D to ensure we remain ahead of the competition. Last year, Canon invested 8pc of its worldwide revenue back into R&D.

Canon recently invested heavily in acquisitions, with the purchases of Oce, Milestone and Lifecake. Canon has also bid for Swedish company Axis as part of our diversification into network camera solutions.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

During my time with Dell, I learned that it is best to take action quickly. Don’t wait for everything to be 100pc before you execute. If it is about 80pc ready, go with your gut instinct and correct as you go.

‘We need a major mindset change and encourage everyone with the aptitude for STEM’

So many companies spend so much time planning and preparing that self-doubt sets in and they lose confidence. If you really believe it is the right thing to do, trust your gut instinct and go with it.

How do you get the best out of your team?

In a word, empowerment.

You employ managers to manage, so let them manage. Of course they need to understand the strategic direction of the company, its ethos and values, which we share through our one-to-ones, team meetings, etc. I also believe in being available to act as a support and sounding board for my team, but encourage them to come up with the ideas. I have found over the years that this approach has worked best for me.

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and whats needed to effect change?

STEM has traditionally been seen as not being inclusive. We need a major mindset change, and encourage everyone with the aptitude for STEM. A couple of years ago, I read a report from the World Bank which said that the UK produces 25,000 engineers per year, while India produces over 1.5 million. If we are to compete, we need to embrace STEM subjects in education and ensure that they are open to everyone everywhere, be it at primary, secondary or university level, or mature students returning to education.

Who is your business hero and why?

Michael O’Leary of Ryanair is someone I always admired. More for his can-do attitude than anything. He challenged the status quo, took a business model that was outdated, cumbersome and expensive, and delivered a product that effectively changed the whole European airline industry.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

One I am really learning a lot from is Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar Animation (and Disney Animation). It looks at what creates, encourages and drives a creative culture within an organisation.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

A reliable PA and a supporting team of strong managers.

I also believe to be effective you need interests outside of work. I’m a bit of a fitness fanatic, which minimizes the stresses associated with running a business.