Benoit Valin of The Kre8 Group, an advanced manufacturing consulting firm, admits he is no “hype-man” when it comes to motivational speeches. However, he considers himself a transparent and objective leader, who reminds his teams that they are all working towards a common purpose.
The Kre8 Group was started in December 2010 to address bottlenecks in design and manufacturing, says company founder Benoit Valin.
Valin is riding on an industry shift to localised or in-house manufacturing, which has been amplified by the choking Covid-19 supply chain disruptions that led countless businesses to scramble to meet their deliveries.
“I’m on a quest to reduce our reliance on offshore manufacturing, and minimise the risk of any cross-border supply chain disruptions,” says Valin.
As The Kre8 Group’s founder, Valin oversees all revenue generating aspects of the company, which includes partnerships, investments, sales of products & services.
He reveals to Greater what makes him tick, and what makes an effective leader.
Tell me about The Kre8 Group and how it seeks to improve the status quo?
The Kre8 Group develops business strategies with companies, large and small, looking to gain agility, develop resilience to disruptions and scale their operations in Asia.
A key part of our business is strategic investment in early-stage start-ups, leveraging on our market access & insight to shape the technologies & solutions that will be needed tomorrow. We have a specific focus on the technologies, solutions and services that enable manufacturing reshoring.
How has Covid-19 impacted your company, and what measures did you take to rise above the crisis?
Covid-19 has stressed and strained the global supply chains and caused major shortages across many verticals, everything from: medical devices, to PPE, to spare parts, and even to the materials that are needed to make them were unavailable.
In response, we helped companies plug these shortages by providing them resources, machinery, materials and contacts to set up their own manufacturing capabilities.
What is the biggest takeaway from your experience with the pandemic?
My biggest shock in this pandemic was seeing how fast borders could shut and trade be halted.
I saw how businesses, institutions and governments were rendered helpless as a result of supply chain disruptions, and how local manufacturers stepped up to overcome these shortages, leveraging their capabilities to address their nation’s communal needs.
A leader can take their business to new heights. What do you think makes a great leader?
Personally, I found that rallying my teams towards a common purpose is a strategy for success. I set transparent and well-balanced objectives, and I make sure everyone knows how they are contributing to the common journey and its objectives.
I’m a firm believer in creative problem-solving through design thinking and planning with Lean-Canvas. I make sure everyone in my team, regardless of their title, is equipped with the skills needed to understand the relevance of their work and how to set their own success metrics.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career and what have you learned from it?
We’ve all made bad investments, we’ve all signed dangerously ambiguous contracts, we’ve all started work before the requirements have been finalised. As an entrepreneur, making mistakes is often the only path to success.
More importantly, I have learned from these mistakes and have developed the resilience to recover from them: clearing the mess, setting a new way forward and crafting a future where the outcome might be different, all without losing focus or motivation.
What are some activities you do to rally your staff in times of low morale
I’ve never been the “hype man” leading by giving motivational speeches. Rather, I encourage my team to develop their own personal goals and success metrics, giving them their own barometer for success.
So that when times get tough, I can provide the breathing room they need to prioritise the tasks they feel is more valuable to them, towards them achieving their objectives.
What rituals do you have to prevent burnout?
Like any entrepreneur, I work harder and take more risks than I should. I’ve learned to give myself the uninterrupted space I need to breathe and reflect. Over time, this ritual has evolved to become seamlessly integrated within the mundane activities of my day-to-day life.
What is your go-to stress reliever?
In times of high-stress, when taking a step back to regain perspective is needed, I bake bread. This tactile activity is my connection to the tangible, and it’s almost therapeutic.
Lastly, what is a mantra or principle you live by and why is it important to you?
“It’s not personal; it’s only business” – to remind myself in times of high stress that failure or rejection do not determine self-worth.
“Know your audience” – to remind myself to choose my words and tone that will get my message across clearly to the audience in mind.
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