The way Telly Kuo (郭特利), Asia-Pacific general manager of Taiwan’s top projector vendor Optoma Corp (奧圖碼), worked up the professional ladder lends support to the time-honored theory that hard work, enterprise and perseverance are the keys to success.
“Everyone can copy my example,” but very few can rival the achievements of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (台積電) chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀), Kuo said.
Born to a fish vendor in Taichung County (now Greater Taichung), Kuo currently steers a sales force of 200 — up from the 20 who were in place when he took his position in January 2003.
His leadership has helped Optoma, a subsidiary of Jhunan Township (竹南), Miaoli County-based Coretronic (中強光電), grow from being a tiny projector maker based in New Taipei City (新北市) into the world’s largest projector supplier using Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology.
Shipments are set to rise 20 percent this year from the more than 700,000 units that were pumped out last year as rapid growth in emerging Asian markets helps offset weakening demand in the US and Europe, say industry forecasts.
Optoma’s revenue totaled NT$3 billion (US$100.6 million) for the first five months of this year, up 7.1 percent from the same period last year, aided partly by government spending to digitize educational facilities in Southeast Asia, Kuo said.
“A task-driven person, I draw up a list of goals in the beginning of a year for myself, develop implementation steps and stick by them until the undertakings bear fruit,” he said.
The 45-year-old has kept to the practice for more than 20 years, despite a few vocational setbacks. With a bachelor’s degree in transportation engineering, Kuo was initially spurned in his attempt to find employment with a publishing company when he was 23.
The then-college graduate had added taekwondo as his special talent on his resume and told the publisher he had no professional knowledge, but was eager to learn.
The unassuming introduction meant he was laughed at and he was not offered the post.
“The publisher probably didn’t know it, but I was quite hurt by its rejection,” he said.
However, the same introduction helped Kuo stand out from other applicants during his interview with David Liao (廖聰賢), sales division chief for Sharp Electronic Components, Taiwan (夏普光電), who valued Kuo’s down-to-earth quality and willingness to learn above his lack of experience.
“I vowed to myself to emulate Liao, who rose to an executive position in his early 30s and worked at his own office,” Kuo said. “I believe people should aim high and endeavor persistently toward their goals.”
Work at Sharp Taiwan came at a time when the nation’s flat-panel industry was about to take off and enabled the rookie to get in contact with today’s technology big-hitters.
Kuo quit Sharp Taiwan nine months later to study for a master’s degree in business administration at St. John’s University in New York after hitting a bottleneck.
“I was totally at a loss when asked to account for the graduate study and future career plans,” he said. “From then on, I decided to plan for everything I do.”
He earned his master’s degree in 15 months and joined Royal Philips Electronics NV’s operations in Taiwan the day he returned.
Kuo worked at Philips for seven years, earning six promotions as a result of which he was heading three departments at the same time.