Exceptional leaders are dedicated, honest, and confident. They have an indomitable will to overcome insurmountable odds and lead their team towards success and deliver services which add value to their customers. Such leaders are inspirational, possess excellent communication skills, and have an innovative streak. One such pioneering leader with an undeterred will to succeed and make a mark in the industry is Edward Van Leent, the Chairman and CEO of the EPI Group of Companies (EPI).
Edward pursued his education in economics, electronics, and electrical engineering. After leaving school, he gained work experience in designing chips and printed circuit boards. From there on, he joined the world of Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Engineering (CAD/CAE). Eventually, he moved into high availability computing environments, through which he entered into the data center domain. Then, Edward was hired by EPI to setup the Asia business. Two years later, he ascended to the position of Chairman and CEO of the company. Edward turned the organization around from a data center design and built organization and transformed it into a data center services company. From there, the company quickly grew into the largest data center training and audit organization in the world which currently has nine offices covering all continents and having a large partner network.
Conquering Challenges to Attain Excellence
Under Edward’s visionary leadership, EPI overcame many challenges from being an unknown company from Europe trying to establish itself in Asia and other continents, as well as moving from a design and built company into a data center services company. As a result, the company had to transform completely in terms of their positioning, services, marketing, processes, competences, and so on. “I was lucky in that in one of my previous organizations, we had to move the company from a hardware organization into a solutions-based organization which had a major impact,” says Edward. The lessons learnt there made it easier for him to carry out the transformation at EPI.
Ensuring Development with Effective Communication
Edward believes that direct communication is essential to make sure everybody understands the big picture and comprehends the reasoning behind the decisions he makes. He says, “I always find that if you make a decision and indicate to the staff why you made it, highlighting both the good and bad reasons it makes it easier for them to understand and accept the decision”. Edward believes that the challenge is always when one has information which they cannot disclose yet, for some reason, and they have to take a decision without prior explanation to the staff. It could lead to the staff not fully understanding why a decision is made.
A Result-Focused Entrepreneur
Edward has a clear perspective for himself and his team. He is focused on the goals and objectives of the company. He says, “I believe it is one of the most single important thing to do being in a management position which is to make sure that everybody understands where the organization is heading and what is expected of everybody and what role they play in the total scheme of things”. Edward is of the opinion that it is important for everybody to understand how they contribute to the overall success of the company. “I am blessed with having an amazing team,” he adds.
Edward’s source of Inspiration
Edward believes in making the most out of life and to always do the best one can. He takes inspiration from his previous managers as well as Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore. Edward moved to Singapore in 1997 and he admires the country for the way it transcended from where it was to where it is today. He says, “Lee Kuan Yew changed this country in a mere 30 years from what people called at that time “a swamp” to a first world country and keeping harmony in a multicultural environment. He was a focused leader and although not everybody always agreed with his ideas and ways of getting things done, the results of his achievements speak for themselves.” He gathers inspiration from various videos where Lee Kuan Yew provides his amazing insights and views on life and the world. Edward believes that Lee Kuan Yew was, without a shed of doubt, an amazing leader putting Singapore on the world map and one the world will probably never find again.
Throughout his illustrious career, Edward has achieved many noteworthy landmarks. There are many accomplishments which he fondly looks back at from a work perspective. He has achieved various accolades throughout his celebrated career. These include getting his first management job, winning his first big award – the ‘Chairman Achievement Award’ at Mentor Graphics, and achieving the position of Chairman and CEO at a relatively young age. “The ultimate position of being a CEO is the one which so many aspire but yet so little people realize what it entails. It has been a very exciting and rewarding career and life”, he says.
Advice to Budding Entrepreneurs
Edward recommends emerging entrepreneurs to focus and work hard to achieve the desired goals. He suggests them to listen to customers and always look at how to help them with their business. “There are three steps every entrepreneur should think about. First of all, have a good strategy, make sure you have an operating model in place to execute the strategy and finally, make sure you hire the best people you can to make it all work”, Edward concluded.