Meet David Reid, Sales Director at VEM Group, one of the fastest-growing mold manufacturers in the world. They currently operate in over 5 countries with an aim to grow across borders. They have served multiple businesses including giants from Automobile, Steel, and other production houses.
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Welcome to your ValiantCEO exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell us about yourself.
David Reid: I’m David Reid, Sales Director at vem-tooling.com, one of the fastest-growing mold manufacturers in the world. We currently operate in over 5 countries with an aim to grow across borders. We have served multiple businesses including giants from Automobile, Steel, and other production houses.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get to where you are today? Give us some lessons you learned along the way.
David Reid: You are absolutely right that “NO child ever says I want to be a CEO when I grow up” but as time passes & the experience we get in professional life it becomes the dream of everyone. For me, the journey wasn’t too easy & I learned some really good lessons. The most important thing I would like to share is the hard work & willingness to not give up. You would encounter failure very often in spite of working hard enough but giving up at such moments will ruin all your effort. Here your willpower comes into play. It’s only a matter of one key motivation that can get you through in such tricky times.
Tell us about your business, what does the company do? What is unique about the company?
David Reid: On the whole, we are in the tooling and plastic injection molding industry for 30 years. Altogether, we have successfully set up injection molding and assembly lines for many of our partners. At the same time, we improve their existing processes with testing and expertise. Bringing VEM’s known quality to all continents is our goal. Besides that, we ensure successful plastic molding projects and outstanding service everywhere.
How to become a CEO? Some will focus on qualities, others on degrees, how would you answer that question?
David Reid: CEO’s decisions can have a significant impact on the company’s direction. The position carries great power and responsibility, as well as substantial financial rewards. For Me, Building On-the-Job Experience is critical to becoming a CEO. The role of the CEO requires professional development. For bachelor’s degree holders, gaining valuable on-the-job experience usually begins with an entry-level position. College graduates typically start in lower-level management or supervisory roles. After gaining experience at this level, candidates can move up to general manager positions and gain more experience before becoming executives. This climb takes time. A CEO typically has several years of experience.
The skills honed along the way usually relate to management, best business practices, and leadership — essential qualities for CEO success. Some companies may be willing to hire qualified candidates from outside their organization. However, many CEOs rise from within a company’s ranks, ensuring familiarity with the environment and business structure.
What are the secrets to becoming a successful CEO? Who inspires you, who are your role models and why? Illustrate your choices.
David Reid: Here’s the secret: The CEOs aren’t busy. They’re actually busier than you right now. They know that being frantic doesn’t help them perform better.
My admiration for Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, stems from the fact that she led the company from 30 employees and $4.7 million in revenue to more than 15,000 employees and $7.7 billion in sales. With her five-octave range, she is an opera singer who can change her voice as the song changes. What Meg has taught me for six years as CEO is how to constantly adapt and change to take advantage of the current market conditions to grow your business.
Many CEOs fall into the trap of being all over the place. What are the top activities a CEO should focus on to be the best leader the company needs? Explain.
David Reid: As a CEO I would like to focus on the below activities:
- The CEO sets the company’s long-term goals and communicates them to all stakeholders.
- Attracts, hires, and keeps the best employees.
- Ensures that there is always a sufficient amount of money on hand.
The Covid-19 Pandemic put the leadership skills of many to the test, what were some of the most difficult challenges that you faced as a CEO/Leader in the past year? Please list and explain in detail.
David Reid: Keeping the key peoples intact with us was the main challenge with us during the pendermic. Since we are a manufacturing industry which needs physical presence to a great extent to run the business therefore we were stuck for nearly a year. Although we were keeping our team with us & paying their wages on time, still keeping them motivated on a standstill vehicle towards the utmost goal was a difficult task.
What are some of the greatest mistakes you’ve noticed some business leaders made during these unprecedented times? What are the takeaways you gleaned from those mistakes?
David Reid: I work with many leaders who run companies, business units, or large functions like IT or Supply Chain. They were already running at full speed before COVID-19, battling to drive growth and scale, execute, and deliver results while already stretched thin. It’s not easy even without COVID-19, but adding it ups the ante. So it’s no surprise that leaders are addressing current issues. Activities or tasks aren’t always removed to make way for new, urgent priorities. Consider a client who had to quickly pivot her organization’s work when a major distribution channel was shut down due to the coronavirus. “I’m working around the clock to address this,” she said. Meanwhile, I keep getting dragged into meetings with my boss about Q1 results. We won’t meet any number this year unless I fix this distribution channel. I can’t afford hours of meetings right now.”
Leaders need the freedom to focus on mission-critical tasks during crises. If that means missing other meetings or achieving a previously defined goal, so be it. These are not easy trade-offs for any company, but getting sucked into everything at once does not work. The most important thing is to trust and allow leaders to address the most critical issues. Their own executives and peers must tell them, “I trust you to do what is best for our people and our business right now.” “I will remove barriers to help you,” they need to hear. And they must model the right behavior and convey the same message to their teams.
In your opinion, what changes played the most critical role in enabling your business to survive/remain profitable, or maybe even thrive? What lessons did all this teach you?
David Reid: In my opinion our flexibility & responsibility towards our team & operations was alive. Our team believed in us & we in them and therefore we managed to capitalize the new normal “remote work” into our working culture so successfully.
What is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
David Reid: Since the pandemic is over the demand has grown up to a large extent & settling it all in real time with the existing workforce is the real challenge for us.
You already shared a lot of insights with our readers and we thank you for your generosity. Normally, leaders are asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is the most useless skill you have learned, at school or during your career?
David Reid: Not believing in the second chance is the most useless skill I thought I learnt. It happens so many times that I realized that on the second attempt we did better & results showed up too.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. We will select these answers for our ValiantCEO Award 2021 edition. The best answers will be selected to challenge the award.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make, this past year 2021, for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
David Reid: The most difficult decision was to keep our all workforce intact during the pandemic with their full pay as it was having a double impact on us financially at that time but it helped us to create a great bonding of trust with our employees & as soon as the pandemic get over it showed its effect.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank David Reid for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
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