Editors Note: Serena Ross has now returned to work. The following is preserved for historical purposes.
With Circuitwise CEO Serena Ross on maternity leave until April 2021, the company has appointed an experienced electronics manufacturing executive from Canada as acting CEO in her absence.
Duncan Reed previously had 20 years on experience in electronics manufacturing with a variety of roles at Creation Technologies. Creation is one of the most successful electronics manufacturing companies in the world with over 3000 people working in nine manufacturing locations across four countries.
Duncan was part of the executive team that saw Creation grow from humble beginnings when he joined the company in 1999 to a business operating at over US$500 million revenue by the time he left in 2019.
During his career at Creation, Duncan managed the launch of several new manufacturing sites, managing over 300 people at each, and was responsible for process engineering, capital equipment strategy, business growth and more. He rose through the ranks to become Executive Vice President responsible for 3 manufacturing sites across North America
Serena chose Duncan as he had already been providing advice to Circuitwise on strategic direction and development of its team.
“A year or so ago, I came across Duncan’s name. I admired Creation Technologies for their spectacular growth from a small manufacturing firm to a global player competing with the biggest and the best,” Serena said.
“I reached out on social media, not expecting much. I was stunned to find that not only was Duncan willing to talk, he just happened to be sitting on Bondi Beach at that very moment – his first-ever visit to Australia!
“A few hours later, we met up and he quickly agreed to help with everything from reshaping my team to the strategic development of the business.”
With Duncan exiting quarantine and joining the company today, we took the opportunity to ask some questions to help Circuitwise customers get to know him better.
Q: How have you been working with Circuitwise up to now?
To date, I have been part of the leadership team and a resource to Serena to help with team development, organisational structure and providing advice around core business processes.
I’ve been working with people in senior roles, including the team leaders in quality, engineering, accounting, sales, production, and supply chain. I’ve been helping them to understand what it means to be part of the leadership team.
My focus has been less on their specific responsibilities and more on what is required to build a strong organization which is healthy and a rewarding place to work. We are ensuring that everyone is trained in the fundamentals of the business, from financials to customer relationships. We want everyone to truly work as a team and have a high degree of trust in each other.
Everyone is excited about the changes we are making. At each meeting of the leadership team we start with a good news roundtable, so people can begin to see what others are doing and recognising the contribution others are making to our overall success. When you share good things others are inspired by that.
Q: Describe your acting CEO role at Circuitwise. What do you expect to be doing on a day-to-day basis?
I am here to help. I want to be a resource to the team rather than dictating what needs to be done. I am looking to unblock anything that is hindering people from doing their role, empowering people to make the right decisions. Specifically, I will be helping the leadership team put a strong playbook together about what they want to achieve in the next year.
My main focus will be on customers. I will take the opportunity of being resident in Australia to get to know our customers better. I will also help each member of our leadership team better understand how to delight customers.
My goal is to continue what Serena has started and make sure things run seamlessly while she enjoys family time with her husband and new daughter. We will be briefly chatting daily and I will keep her informed, but I want her to not worry about what is going on at work and to come back refreshed.
Q: What is your biggest strength? What differences do you think you will make in your time at Circuitwise?
I love strong teams and am looking forward to helping an already strong team be more than the sum of its parts. The best way to grow a company is to help the team to unleash its potential.
About 20 years ago I was part of a team that grew a business unit from 30 to 300 people over 3 years, with a tenfold growth in revenue. Although I was leading a team of talented people we did not collaborate well. I realised I could not sustain that.
I remember having to hire a new person and thinking that I really needed to hire someone who could do my job better than me. I did that, and for the next few hires as well. I started to respect the people reporting to me and getting them involved in my strategic decision making.
That was the start of my journey on team building. Over the next several years later, we started learning together, having offsite development meetings and yearly leadership summits. It turned out to be a much better way of working. Since then my focus has been on enabling teams.
I like to help people look at work differently – to help them know when to make their own decision and when they need to involve others. Success for me is having people set and achieve targets that are above my expectation. I hope that people will come up with things on their own that I could never have thought of. It’s really about getting people focused on what a great company environment looks like and get everyone rowing in the same direction.
Q: What is the most important tip you would give to clients of Circuitwise in developing and manufacturing their products?
Pick the right partner and ensure they are the right fit for you. Ensure your reason for choosing a manufacturing partner is clearly understood by yourself and them – e.g. speed of launch, flexibility, cost etc.
Circuitwise is uniquely suited for customers building high-reliability products. When we build the right relationship, our customers are ultimately able to out-perform their competition with us as the manufacturing partner. If you are open in the relationship on what you need and what the long-term plan is for your product and company, we can best tailor our solution to meet your needs.
Q: What are your favourite activities outside of work? What are you most enthusiastic about?
Relationships are important to me, including family, friends and colleagues. I like having deep discussions with people that are impactful. If you really care about people you can have deep conversations. So, I like to have a lot of BBQs and take the opportunity to get to know people deeply.
I also like to travel and coming to Australia during the pandemic is a great opportunity. I expect to spend a lot of weekends in the car visiting parts of NSW.
My main hobby is golf, which I play most weekends in the Canadian summer. Although I am far from good at golf, I find it is the best way to see the country so I look forward to exploring courses around Sydney.
Q: Where did you grow up? What was it about your childhood that brought you to this industry?
I grew up in Toronto (Canada’s largest city). I went to school in Kingston, Ontario and lived in Edmonton, Alberta for several years early in my career.
I was schooled as a chemical engineer and worked in the industrial gas industry. I then transferred to the electronic manufacturing services industry. My brother, an accountant, was one of the founders of Creation Technologies and asked if I was up for a challenge. He said that I would have to buy my job by investing in Creation. It was the best thing I ever did and that led to a 21-year career with the company.