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The Professionals: Richard Flynn

Richard-Flynn1Our Commercial Organization Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa.

Born and raised in the UK, now based in Singapore, Flynn is settling into his new role as SVP Commercial Organization Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, having assumed the position on October 1.

He has worked for Professional for over 15 years, in two separate spells. Firstly, in sales and key account roles in the UK and Europe before returning as responsible for the Chains segment in APAC & MEA – and that involved a move across the world.

You’re fast-approaching four years in Singapore – how’s the relocating experience been for you?

It has been an amazing experience with the biggest learning so far being how to live and work in a truly multicultural society and collaborate across various countries, while respecting the many different cultures, traditions and ways of working.

Being British and having grown up in the UK, it was unusual for me to visit countries and have meetings where we needed a colleague to translate. I was always used to being able to rely on speaking English. You really must prepare a lot to ensure your message translates correctly and will be understood. It has been great to embrace the different business etiquettes from how to exchange business cards using two hands to the Wai greeting in Thailand and bowing in Japan.

What are you most proud of throughout your career?

On a personal level I am most proud of my immediate family in trusting and supporting me to move away from our family and friends. I am married to my wife Jo and have two boys, George and Fred (no we didn’t name them after the characters in Harry Potter – rather a grandparent from either side of our families!).

Both my children left their schools in the UK, started afresh in a new country over 10,000 miles away and have not looked back. At George’s birthday party last year his friends came from five different countries but shared the same interest in Minecraft. Anyone who is considering challenging themselves by moving out of their comfort zone to a different country – do it! You will not regret it.

Richard-Flynn2What are the optimal conditions for you in terms of learning and development?

Learning is a continuous process and I try to remain open to learning new topics or building a deeper understanding of areas which are new to me. I also like to take learnings from others whether it be my manager, colleagues or team members. The key is to remain open and not being afraid to try something different. I have learned a lot from sometimes making the wrong decision but I try to always learn what went wrong and how could I improve in the future.

What gives you energy and keeps you passionate?

Celebrating success and recognizing how much we have achieved keeps me motivated every day. That’s not only about receiving big orders and beating our targets; winning just a small order over competition gives you a great feeling, just as much as beating the odds to hit an installation deadline. I am proud to work for Professional and being passionate about the opportunities we have keeps me energized.

What advice would you give to aspiring young managers?

No matter the challenges we face it is important to stay enthusiastic, embrace change and remain open to learn. Be prepared to challenge process and procedure if you feel we can do something better for our external and internal customers.

From a career perspective, it is your career so take control of the direction you want to take and set clear goals and ambitions. I found having good mentors and not being afraid to ask colleagues and managers for advice and ideas is really useful. Be prepared to make mistakes but also be prepared to take the valuable learning this provides.

Do you have a famous role model?

Being an Everton football fan, I have many role models – there are too many to choose. In sport, I also really admire the career of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton since his achievements on and off the racing track are truly amazing.

However, my true role model is my dad (obviously not famous) but I learned so much from him growing up. He provided a great grounding for me to understand what I wanted to achieve and how to go about making it happen.

Electrolux Professional launched its new Guiding Principles earlier this year: Be bold, Build trust, Be customer obsessed and Act sustainably – which speaks loudest to you?

If I had to pick one it would be ‘Be Bold’. If you are customer obsessed, have trust and know you are acting sustainably it is easier to be bold and take a decision or suggest a new way to do something. Being bold means it’s okay if you make a mistake when challenging the status quo. It’s often easy to hide behind a process so being bold is way more challenging and fun.

How do you intend to Be Bold in your relatively new role at Professional?

I am very passionate about growing our business; the APAC & MEA region has some of the biggest-growing markets globally. Whilst we still have significant challenges ahead of us, there are even bigger opportunities for us to take. And I’m confident we’ll achieve this, supported by our strong financial position, great products but – most importantly – the talented team members across the regions.

I am challenging myself to really step out of my comfort zone, learn new areas of the business and understand how we can achieve our ambitious plans for the region. I look forward to working with all team members so we can celebrate our success in achieving these results together.

Check out our global career site, if you aspire to pursue a career similar to Richard’s.