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Robert Chu - committed to pleasing people

Keep your commitments, make your customers and employees happy, but also have fun while doing all these. This is what 37-year-old Robert Chu, the charismatic vice president (Asia South) of 3Com Asia Pacific, believes in.

Robert ChuKeep your commitments, make your customers and employees happy, but also have fun while doing all these. This is what 37-year-old Robert Chu, the charismatic vice president (Asia South) of 3Com Asia Pacific, believes in.

Describe your achievement and impact on the industry.
Throughout my career, I've had the privilege of working with many talents in companies such as 3Com (plus Gateway and Dell previously) that have been at the forefront of simplifying the use of technology. I would like to think that my contribution is to help 'de-mystify' technology in this industry thereby encouraging more users to experience the benefits of IT. It is also something that I strongly believe in and hope that someday, we have a larger and more diverse user community with wider access.

What do you like about your work?
[The] most fun part [about working at 3Com] is being at the center of new developments in the technology industry. The first hand exposure I get to products and solutions keeps me very excited - and knowing that this will enable customers to increase their business productivity or just enhance their experience with information technology is a great motivation for me.

Do you have a personal business philosophy that you adhere to?
My basic philosophy is simple: keep your commitments, make your customers and employees happy but also have fun while doing all of these. If you're not achieving these goals, then something is wrong and one must re-evaluate. Build a great business with exciting and innovative products and services - and the money issue becomes secondary or insignificant.

How do you define success? Do you consider yourself to be successful?
Some of the most successful people are those who risk their own lives or health to save other lives: surgeons, firefighters ... I believe those are the real success stories. If these people have a bad day, then lives can be lost ... not the case in business. In business, success is defined as being involved in a venture that truly brings value-add for customers and enhancing their lives with the use of your products or technology. For myself, I still believe that there are challenges to overcome and our technology industry is just entering the early stages of truly innovative products that can change people's lives (for the better).

Any role model whom you look up to?
For business role models, I admire Jack Welch and Michael Dell for their leadership and innovative management practices. Aside from business, teachers and those who have a strong influence on young people's development are definite role models as well.

What is your proudest achievement so far?
Being a part of some great IT businesses in the early, high-growth stages in Asia.

Is there anything you would have done differently if given the choice?
Probably the opportunity to learn more foreign languages such as Japanese or French during school. Having multi-lingual capabilities really opens up new worlds and perspectives. Given the chance, I would probably still like to learn languages in the years to come.

What is your favorite form of relaxation?
Sports - such as swimming or cycling. They are great stress relievers and help me to re-energize.

Which Web sites do you visit most often? What kind of books do you read?
Some Web sites that have my attention are:

  • espn.com - especially NBA, baseball and all other sports
  • chron.com for Houston Chronicle - allows me to keep up with news/events from my hometown
  • cnnfn.com for financial news
  • news.com for technology news
  • msn.carpoint.com so that I may view dream sports cars
  • hookem.com for University of Texas sports news (my college) - especially football

    And on books, I like to read military history books to gain insights on the strategies and human interest elements in war. I recently read "D-Day" by Stephen Ambrose Business as well as "The New New Thing" by Michael Lewis about business in Silicon Valley.

    Which in your opinion is the best place in Asia to hold a meeting for four? For serious business, Hong Kong; for off-site meetings, Bali.

    More about People: Managing Asia.