An interview with Thomas Welle who joined MCON Beijing in 2013 as Associate Director, later promoted as Director of MCON Shanghai and newly appointed as Managing Director of MCON Mexico where he is about to build the office from scratch.
Thomas, please tell us a bit about you. Your story.
I was born and raised in Heidelberg, Germany and I’ve always craved for diversity. By end 2006, I decided to move to Malaysia for an internship with Mercedes-Benz. It offered me a direct offer to embark on an exciting business process mapping project. After three and half years, I moved to Hong Kong, and then Beijing, Shanghai. My decision to move to Asia has opened me to a lot of possibilities and has allowed me to meet interesting colleagues and peers from different walks of life hailing from every corner of the earth. The past 11 years in Asia was all about exposure, growth and immersing myself with what I loved: data, processes, automotive and cultures.
My transfer to China paved the way to my relationship with MCON. In January 2013, I started as an Associate Director in MCON’s Beijing office. I initially co-oversaw a business intelligence team and then moved to supervising a team internally referred to as ENGINE for all Microsoft related leads. MCON received a break-through in December 2014. We won a major pitch for a Shanghai-based luxury automotive account. A physical presence was urgently needed in Shanghai, so I was delegated to build MCON branch. In 2 years, the office grew from 2 to a team of 24. By early 2017, MCON decided to open another global office in Mexico and tap the unchartered LATAM waters. I accepted and took on the task of becoming its first Managing Director west of Germany to build MCON’s presence and successfully offer our services.
Moving to Mexico can be a big decision. How do you like it so far?
Mexico is a new country in a new continent with a new vibrant culture and most importantly, a key to a brand new experience and learning. Taking on the decision made me feel a slew of indescribable feelings – anxiety, thrill, apprehension and excitement. But after frequent business trips to this lovely place prior to my transfer, I found out how warm and inviting the local people were. I was drawn to their open-mindedness. They removed all my qualms and reminded me of my initial cultural moments when I first arrived in Malaysia. The fascination of experiencing the “new” and creating an impact on a new and wonderful environment are the reasons I went for it and so far, it has been great.
What type of work do you do at MCON Mexico?
As the Managing Director, it is my task to help where help is needed and required. Since we are basically a start-up in Mexico, my responsibilities lie from building the infrastructure and organizational setup of the company to planning the unit’s growth and executing efficient services to both internal and external stakeholders.
Currently, my team and I are working on a very interesting BI project for a major automotive company. Looking back, we did a very similar project in Beijing 3 years ago which allowed us to connect with the automaker’s branch in Mexico as they saw the massive potential this project could bring to their business operations. Our services aimed to ensure the efficient consolidation of existing groundwork and allow the easy utilization and prompt sending of government related reports. It lays the foundation for future digital innovation surrounding big data and predictive analysis. To add, it is my task to ensure this flagship project will lead to achieve greater milestones in Mexico.
How do you see a German company thrive in emerging markets where local market competency could be severe?
I think technology is definitely an enabler for small companies as well as large companies. It is but human nature to adapt. As markets are constantly evolving, the need to adapt to innovation would always be present. Whichever market category a company falls under, yearn for access to efficient IT infrastructure and modules would be prevalent.
That’s where we come in. We are competitive since we are very much intertwined with other MCON offices and are up-to-date with the forefront of innovation. One of our fundamental jobs is to adapt MCON’s technology and best practices into the Mexican market where the infrastructure is not so advanced yet. So we make sure the basis is well defined. We see it as a massive opportunity rather than a challenge.
We are making constant efforts to penetrate local markets. The expertise we gained in the past 2 decades in Business Intelligence empowers clients to effortlessly interpret data. Our services allow them to take immediate actions, steer the company rather than creating tedious reports that were often consolidated in an ineffectively manual way. In the end, nobody really looked at the time-consuming report. By unleashing the power of BI-processed dashboards, we shifted people from creating painstaking reports to simply interpreting them; enabling them to make the right decisions based on real-time data.
How other clients or projects could benefit from this experience?
Everyday there is more data created. Automotive industry is one of the biggest data producers. A car generates data and consequently OEMs have customer data, transaction data, vehicle data etc. Meaningful KPI-driven and ROI-proven dashboards will help a company to understand their customer and business deeper, and make better decisions based on what’s actually happening and not what they think is happening.
It is often observed that not all people are willing to change because they initially feel they are giving power away. Our experience says otherwise. Throughout the years, companies who adapted, have lost nothing, rather, gained more control. They receive actual data that guides them to actionable and immediate steps and remedies. We’ve seen numerous success stories of companies who were open to this and we’ve enjoyed working with every single one of them. Our doors are always open for anyone who wishes to chat. I look forward to a brilliant chapter of growth with my experienced team and become the best automotive digital transformer here in Mexico.