Being a student of Prof. Harry Kraemer during his time at the Kellogg School of Management has given Marc Chan, General Manager of RingCentral China the opportunity to learn and adopt the principles of value-based leadership that he deems as the greatest lesson that he’s acquired in his career as a leader. HR Asia speaks to Marc who shares his career journey and to learn about his management principles.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your career journey, and how you came to join RingCentral?

It was an adventurous journey from a techie geek to a field consultant to an executive leader. After I completed graduate school, I joined a startup in the Silicon Valley as a software engineer. Back then it was the dot-com boom and everything was too easy, well until it wasn’t. The burst of the bubble made me realize that an innovation can be successful only if it legitimately solves concrete and substantial business problems.

I entered SAP afterwards and started a 16-year journey. There I had opportunities working directly with many Fortune 500 companies across North America, Asia Pacific and Greater China for their digital transformations. Managing through the challenges and accomplishments in these global enterprises, I found a success factor they all share – effective communication inside and outside their organizations. In other words, removing barriers against this factor is the key to success.

So, when RingCentral approached me 4 years ago and explained how it aims at revolutionizing business communication through its cloud platform, I knew it hit the nail on the head. It’s a privilege to apply my experience and lead this innovative company to a new height.

RingCentral’s fast growth during the last few years shows exactly how we  helped enterprises worldwide run successful businesses by digitalizing communications effectively on our cloud platform. Behind the business achievement, it’s the team development and corporate culture that enabled it. We are very honored to be named “Best Companies to Work For in Asia” for the last 3 years, a remarkable recognition from HR Asia.

  1. During the course of your career, what would you consider to be the most important lesson you learned about leadership?

In many enterprises I worked with, a very common but hard to resolve organizational problem is lack of ownership across teams. Some companies implement incentive programs or disciplinary rules, but the same behavior resumes once a KPI is changed or unmeasured. What should be implemented in order to eradicate this mentality?

When I was in Kellogg School of Management, I had the privilege of attending a class from Prof. Harry Kraemer. There he introduced Values-Based Leadership which became the guiding principles in my career as a leader. The 4 principles include Self Reflection, Balance, True Self-confidence, and Genuine Humility. Regular practices of reflection to evaluate what matters most, balancing different perspectives from the organization, recognizing shortcomings with self-confidence, and respecting everyone without bias not only allowed me to become an authentic leader but more importantly to grow others as one too.

I truly believe everyone is a leader in his/her own field, no matter what position they are at. When a person is a leader of its own, he/she always takes ownership and thrives for excellence. Leadership is a process of influencing people. Pursuing Values-Based Leadership faithfully, I am actually motivating and inspiring others to do the same. The cascading effect turns into a company culture governing everyone. People start to show ownership not because it’s measured, but because it’s the right thing to do from their heart. No KPI measurement can be more impactful than this. It was a lesson learnt with phenomenal results.

  1. How can an organization align employee engagement with business objectives?

An organization usually has many business objectives, and they may be adjusted from time to time upon market conditions. However, one thing that always remains the same is the company’s vision. A vision defines what the company aspires to be famous for in the industry and in front of its customers, as well as its purpose to the world. Business objectives are the milestone targets towards this ultimate vision.

It is crucial to ensure employees well understand and have buy-in to the purpose and vision of the company. Perhaps this was done during recruiting or on-boarding orientation, but it should always be reinforced during company all-hands, team meetings or even 1-on-1 talks. This is an essential fundamental to make sure employees are engaged with the company’s purpose.

Having employees believed in the vision does not mean they do with the business objectives. Very often, employees like the vision but not the targets set for them. Leadership plays an important role here. The correlation between the business targets and company vision should be clearly explained. It is necessary to show what the company is aiming to become in the long run and where it is at the moment, what obstacles it is facing that must be overcome, and what milestones it needs to achieve to go further.

We also encourage our people managers to understand the career goals of each team member and align their targets towards these goals. Employees wish to grow with the company together. Realizing this is the key to align employee engagement with business objectives.

  1. What are some successful employee retention strategies that RingCentral has implemented?

Allow me to respond to this question with another question. When do people usually think a retention process starts? When an employee turns in a resignation letter? Or when an employee shows discomfort with the job or compensation package?

If I were to put a timestamp on it, I believe the retention process starts right after an employee joins the company. At RingCentral, employee experience is our top priority. We believe our employees are here to build a career with us and not just make a living. Starting from the time an employee is on-board, we have a full cycle of employee growth programs.

From talent development to employee care to career planning, our EXBP (Employee Experience Business Partner) and people managers work side by side to ensure all employees are considered. Rewards and benefits are reviewed on a regular basis assuring our competitiveness in the industry. Events and competitions are organized from time to time for individuals to explore new expertise outside their day-to-day work. We make sure our employees feel pride and happiness at work, which is the core foundation of a career at RingCentral.

We are proud to share that our attrition rate is very low, a single digit rate every year. Our focus on employee happiness is paying off.

Notes: Marc Chan, VP & General Manager of RingCentral China, “Outstanding Management Person of 2021” by Harvard Business Review China.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here