We honor Asian Pacific Heritage Month with the third installment of our series celebrating team members of Asian Pacific origin who bring our manufacturing and supply chain excellence to life, every day. Latonia Knox, global head of inclusion and diversity at Flex, kicked off the celebration in a blog post marking Asian Pacific Heritage Month.
Today, we spotlight our Shanghai Design and Innovation Center team to better understand how the organization uses their expertise to provide design solutions for existing products, as well as new product introductions. They are an important part of our innovation engine.
The center’s team works closely with customers across a range of industries, with a large presence in automotive. They are considered trusted advisers by market-leading companies, providing technical thought leadership and execution. We sat down with Ming Gu, General Manager of the Shanghai Design and Innovation Center, to learn more about upcoming trends and how we’re enabling customers to take their products to the next level in highly competitive markets.
Here is an excerpt from our conversation with Ming.
How long have you been the GM of the Shanghai Design and Innovation Center?
I’ve been in research and development for 23 years and have worked in the semiconductor, consumer and lighting industries. I joined Flex three years ago to help launch our Shanghai Design and Innovation Center. We’re centered in an area with high-tech companies and I love working in this fast-paced, dynamic environment. My team of engineers provides integrated design solutions for a range of industries, including robotics, lighting, consumer, tele-communication, automotive, cloud computing and power. We have 24 labs and also host visitors from around the world.
How do you partner with customers at the center? What trends are you seeing?
We’ve been seeing a dramatic change in terms of the requirements for design services. This is partly due to the growing complexity of products. We used to do a lot of engineering support work, where our customers owned most of their product design with us adding bits and pieces. Now, we’re moving towards more and more of the full product design responsibility. Customers look to us for inspiration on what else they can integrate into their products. They also look to us to design new products they can add to their portfolios.
We also serve multiple industries, so our team can work on multiple products and serve different customers. This provides many exciting new opportunities to our engineering team to learn and grow. It also enables our team to always be on the front-line of technology development.
We do one thing year in and year out – design, which includes staying ahead of trends and understanding our customers’ needs. We’re having a big impact, where a company can stand on a stage announcing their new product, with us knowing we did so much to help them. It’s a great feeling.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities ahead?
Our Shanghai Design and Innovation Center is the largest cross-segment design and innovation center in Asia. As 5G technology, intelligent infrastructures, smart devices, electric vehicles and autonomous driving are taking off in China, we see great opportunities in these domains for Flex. We have industrial, automotive, lifestyle and cloud computing engineering teams co-located in our center, where we share knowledge and jointly work on projects. It’s an exciting time at the center for our engineers and for our business development team.
Working at Flex is a unique and fulfilling experience for me. The intense collaboration and diverse business opportunities make it a perfect place to learn, grow and take on new challenges. We’re delivering a wide range of intelligent products to industry-leading companies, who rely on our extensive technical knowledge and excellent engineering capabilities to deliver.- Ming Gu, General Manager of the Shanghai Design and Innovation Center
What technologies are becoming more prevalent at the design center based on the customers you support?
After I joined Flex, our team started organizing an annual Innovation Day event, which is great to nurture an innovation culture, promote cross-functional knowledge sharing and collaboration, and showcase our strong engineering and technical capabilities. I am thrilled to see more and more participants and projects being enrolled in this event each year from across the globe. Innovation is not only about working on new technologies and ideas, but also identifying future growth opportunities.
This year’s Innovation Day is in June, where we invite our customers to see demonstrations and examples of trending technologies across segments such as:
- Connectivity: radio frequency (RF), 5G, mMTC, LWWAN, RF charging, wired and wireless network solutions and other applications
- Intelligent devices: wearables, smart sensors and actuators, human-machine interface (HMI), smart audio and various industrial and consumer electronics
- Computing and artificial intelligence (AI): computing and storage servers, cloud and edge computing, new algorithms, gesture recognition, training and inference for AI
- Power and lighting: power electronics, green energy (solar, wind, etc.), lighting and display
- High reliability: products and technologies in automotive and medical industries
- Autonomous driving: image recognition, ADAS modules, sensors and fusions
What makes being a part of Flex so exciting?
Working at Flex is a unique and fulfilling experience for me. The intense collaboration and diverse business opportunities make it a perfect place to learn, grow and take on new challenges. We’re delivering a wide range of intelligent products to industry-leading companies, who rely on our extensive technical knowledge and excellent engineering capabilities to deliver. I’m passionate about learning and being challenged. I never get bored. Plus, we’re making a difference for our customers.
How did you grow your career to become a general manager, which has historically been a male-dominated space?
I grew up in an engineering family. My father is a geophysicist, my uncle and cousins are all in the micro-electronics industry. I felt it was quite natural to continue the trend to be an engineer – engineering is changing the world and people’s daily lives via technology and innovation! I thought if the guys could be engineers, I could do it, too.
I’ve also always been a curious person. I like learning new things and am dedicated to humanity – understanding people’s life paths. While China is focused on the importance of study, I grew up in a relaxed environment where we had a lot of free time to play and explore. I tried many things and if I liked a subject, I spent time on it. MBA study is a stretch and I put quite a bit of effort into expanding my understanding and knowledge on multiple subjects, which helps me greatly in my role as a general manager.
Let’s end on a personal note. How do you relax after hours? What’s your greatest personal achievement?
I enjoy Chinese painting and sports such as tennis and swimming. I also enjoy reading. It’s a great way to relax as books create another world. I read The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, a fascinating story of overcoming adversity, taming internal demons and rejecting the imposed labels of others, which was quite inspiring.
Like every Mum, I am very proud of my son and daughter. They are brave, curious, happy and confident – a bit like me when I was a kid. Having a career and bringing up two children at the same time is a big achievement.