Leaders’ Insights: Gary Twohig, Samsung Electronics Ireland

17 Mar 2016

Gary Twohig, director, Samsung Electronics Ireland. Photo: Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

Gary Twohig is the director of Samsung Electronics Ireland.

Gary Twohig has been the director of the Irish division of Samsung since 2014. Prior to that, he held other senior roles within the company, which he joined in 2005.

Before joining Samsung, the UCD graduate had spent five years working with Virgin Media in London.

Samsung’s new phones – the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge – were unveiled in recent weeks, while it was also revealed that phones that were pre-ordered would come with a free Gear VR headset, indicating just how seriously the company is taking the virtual reality opportunity.

Describe your role and what you do.

As director, I am responsible for the P&L for the IT and mobile, TV/AV and home appliances business of Samsung in Ireland. The Ireland team consists of 50 people across sales, marketing, product management, retail, training, supply chain, finance and service. My primary responsibilities as a leader include motivating and inspiring the team, managing change within our business, and identifying and developing talent within the team.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

It’s a combination of being utterly reliant on my Microsoft Outlook calendar and my daily and weekly to-do lists. I still get a simple buzz from striking through the actions on my to-do list. I always aim to maintain a healthy balance between being in the office with the team and out meeting with our customers.

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

As an electronics company, the constant challenge facing us all in this industry is to always remain ahead of the competition. This challenge is perfectly encapsulated in our stated company vision, ‘Inspire the world, create the future’. Samsung consistently tackles this challenge by not allowing itself to become distracted by what all our competitors are doing, and to instead focus on what we are going to do as leaders in this industry, continually reinvesting heavily in research and development and taking calculated risks to create new markets and opportunities.

What are the key industry opportunities youre capitalising on?

The biggest industry opportunity right now is the world of the internet of things (IoT) and the connected ecosystem with the smartphone at its core.

According to Gartner, there will be up to 25bn connected devices in the world by 2020. Due to the breadth of markets Samsung operates in – including mobile, IT, wearables, TV/AV and home appliances – Samsung is well positioned to capitalise on these opportunities. Our big focus areas for 2016 and beyond include:

  • Virtual reality powered by our smartphones, such as our Galaxy S7 combined with our Gear VR and Gear 360 camera
  • The B2B market with our suite of business-ready mobility products and our Knox device management and device protection software solution
  • The smart home with our range of connected TV/AV and home appliances products and our Smart Things solution

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

My first entry into the technology industry was when I joined the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Media in 2000 as a national account manager working out of offices in Leicester Square in London. It was a great time to join Virgin Media, as it had just launched in the UK and Australia, there was a real start-up, can-do atmosphere, and we were successfully growing our market share of subscriptions and revenues at a very rapid rate.

I spent five very happy years at Virgin Media, however, it was while I was working there that I encountered this ‘new kid on the block’ mobile phone manufacturer that was bringing out cutting-edge and bold design-lead products: it was called Samsung. As somebody who always appreciated the physical design of products, I actively sought a role in Samsung and managed to secure a position in Samsung UK in 2005, which eventually led to the role that I now have as the director of Samsung Electronics Ireland.

‘It is key that success is always recognised or celebrated in some way, to keep the fighting spirit and motivation there to do it again and again’

How do you get the best out of your team?

I am open, honest and approachable with all the members of the team, and I ask for the same in return.

I also encourage the team to ensure that we recognise and celebrate our successes. In such a fast-paced industry as electronics, where we are always working into the future, it can be easy to forget to come up for air, stand back and recognise a job that has been well done. It is key that success is always recognised or celebrated in some way to keep the fighting spirit and motivation there to do it again and again.

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

With my marketing hat on, I think much of this has to do with how the STEM sectors have traditionally been marketed and promoted to people throughout their journey through school, university and then out into the workforce. The technologies and services that are coming from the STEM sectors are being utilised by everybody on a daily basis and STEM jobs are growing at a rapid rate. These factors should themselves naturally encourage increased diversity within the STEM sectors. However, to support this further, it is key that we also actively create an environment for STEM diversity via:

  • Marketing within our education system so that the STEM disciplines are promoted to all students in schools and universities in a relevant way. A good example would be the STEM boards and content that is currently available for students on Pinterest
  • Strengthening the skills of teachers through additional training in science, mathematics and technology so that they have the confidence to educate and promote the STEM sectors to all students
  • Actively celebrating and profiling examples of success and diversity within the STEM sectors to create role models for people to be inspired by
  • If it’s required, establishing hiring goals within organisations

Who is your business hero and why?

My own father, as he has had the biggest single influence on my career, encouraging me to expand my horizons and experience by leaving Ireland in my early 20s to work in London and advising me on key career choices and decisions. He remains my main business mentor today.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Some of books that I really enjoyed reading include:

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

I couldn’t survive the working week without my new Samsung Galaxy S7 and, of course, my Gear S2 smartwatch, which tracks my run times and reminds me to keep moving towards my daily steps goal.

Another vital resource for us all in our office is our WMF Prestolino professional coffee machine – it is a much-loved member of the team, and makes great coffee!