Gimme Five – Howard Lin

Lin joined Advantech in 2003 as the vice president for i-automation in China and head of Shanghai branch. He returned to the Taiwan headquarters in 2005 to lead the sales force, which covered the Asia Pacific region. In the following years, Lin started to take on the role of leading the European sales force as well. He took on his current role of managing director for Advantech in Europe in 2010.

His hobbies include playing badminton and golf, reading, and sightseeing.

1. The economy in Europe is seen as weak at the moment. What do you think should be done about that?

We are a global company. Europe is only 15 per cent of our turnover, so the impact is not major, but it is still there. Our market share in Europe is still small. We know the situation in Europe, it is not a surprise that the economy is this low, but it is not as bad as 2008. Growth is slow but there is growth, and I think it will improve next year.

It is tough to know what governments can do to speed up the growth. But in 2011, we still had 30 per cent growth in Europe even though the economy wasn’t good. We will see 10 to 15 per cent growth in Europe this year.

2. What are you plans for Embedded World this year?

We will have a booth there. We will be showing different solutions from board level up to system level. And we will have new boards with new CPU technologies – Cedar Trail from Intel. We will also have demonstration booths with Intel and Microsoft, so both of those companies will be showing Advantech products on their booths. This is the most important embedded show in Europe.

3. How different is it doing business in Europe compared with Taiwan and China?

The biggest difference is that China and the USA are each one big country with the same language, taxes and regulations. But in Europe, there are several different countries with different languages, with different people and cultures, and mentalities. So it is difficult to use one strategy across Europe. And the USA and China have not bad growth. Only Germany in Europe has good forecast growth, but not the other countries. If you look at our organisation in Europe, we have 11 branch offices in Europe in different countries. We have to use local people to develop local business.

4. You like sightseeing. Since you’ve been in Europe, what is the best sight you’ve seen and what is the main one you haven’t seen yet but want to?

Many places in Europe are very beautiful. But the place I like most is the Nordic countries, especially Norway. It is a very beautiful place. We went to several cities there last year including Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger. And we went to see the fjords, and they are quite beautiful.

As to where I want to visit, I think Italy. I have been to Milan on a business trip but not for sightseeing. And I want to see the other cities such as Rome and Florence.

5. A number of European companies are setting up a standards body to rival Vita. Do you think this will be good or bad for the industry?

Standards always help the technology to move forwards. They give end customers more choices without compatibility issues. But the question is how much flexibility you can provide for different applications. We don’t want to limit the flexibility.

When you have these kinds of groups forming, we always join. If this gets going we will likely join it.


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