Our China and Taiwan Technical Manager Mark Chuang shares his insights on his regional market, highlights how he and his team are making a difference to customers and how, in his spare time, he is developing a deeper knowledge of data and coding.
Q) Tell us how you came to be in your current role as China and Taiwan Technical Manager at Total Lubmarine.
Having been born and raised in Taiwan, I attended the University of Marine Engineering in Taiwan, attaining a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering. I then, like many of us here, did 2 years National Service in the Taiwanese Army, before starting my professional career working for 3 years on Power Plant Projects.
From there I spent 4 years in an oil company, 2 years as Technical Manager and then 2 years as Sales Manager before joining Total Lubmarine in 2003 as a Technical Engineer. I stayed in that role until 2012 before being appointed China and Taiwan Technical Manager.
Since then I have worked to grow our client base in this region and help support our clients across the full breadth of technical knowledge and services we offer.
Q) Tell us about the market in your region and what you love about your job
This region is unlike many others globally in that almost all of our customers are the direct ship owners and managers.
They are really invested in the health and well-being of their vessels and very much value having long-term relationships and collaborative and cooperative relationships with key suppliers like ourselves.
Trust is absolutely critical and the foundation of the contracts that we have in this region.
As a result, my role as Technical Engineer is an interesting, varied and enjoyable job. We are liaising directly with customers every day – who are really interested in the technical aspects of their lubrication programs.
They recognize the level of Technical Service we deliver them and how this helps their vessels and as a result we work hard to find the very best solutions for our customers and ensure that their customer satisfaction is high.
Q) Can you give us an example of how this approach has worked in action?
The customer-centric approach we have here at Total Lubmarine has seen us grow one major client from an initial 2 vessels when they first started working with us to well over 50 vessels now. Given that customers in this region like to have the security of long-term contracts, moving to new suppliers is only done when a level of trust and value is achieved. Changing suppliers is not something done easily or quickly so you really have to earn that growth.
Critical to that is the level of technical knowledge and support we offer. The Sales Manager has a critical role to play, but backing them up is a highly experienced, knowledgeable and responsive team.
We need to offer our customers a wide range of knowledge and skills across the technical and product spectrum and that’s what we do.
Q) How has 2020 been for you and customers in the region?
Like everyone else, 2020 has been extremely challenging in ways we could not have imagined just over 12 months ago. At the end of 2019 the marine market here was very busy trying to anticipate how the new IMO2020 regulations would impact them practically.
Whether customers were opting to install scrubbers or opt for the change to VLSFO no-one had long term experience to draw on. There was some anxiety because we were breaking new ground.
Our role was to help them prepare for this and help them through the initial stages of the impact it had. The beauty of the breadth of our services is that our technical expertise, drain oil analysis and monitoring services were able to play a vital role – particularly in the early part of 2020.
We planned many visits, engine inspections and technical seminars for 2020, and were planning to work closely with customers to help them manage and understand the challenges that arose for them.
But of course, all face-to-face activities had to stop due to COVID-19 pandemic.
And whilst the people to people interaction had to be largely adapted and become online, our technical service never stopped, it worked continually to deliver value, insight and support to all of our clients.
By the wider use of communication apps and regular online systems, we were able to keep that close customer contact. The central team also launched our new Drain Oil Analysis Services, which was a really positive development in our technical customer support. We were able to use this data to help customers make more effective decisions.
So whilst it was challenging – business continuity was retained through the use of effective technology. Hopefully 2021 will be a more balanced year!!
Q) When you are not working what do you like to do?
My daughter has just started University so I find myself having a lot more spare time!
I really enjoy developing skills that I can use to help me in my work and wider. In past few years, I learned Excel VBA, Python and POWER BI for big data analyzing. Currently I am also learning how to code.
So I spend a lot of my spare time developing those skills and knowledge as I recognize that the effective use of data can bring real rewards to our customers.