Lenovo CEO Shows Up At New Employee Training, Dispenses Advice

Last week, more than 225 recent college graduates began their new jobs at Lenovo's Beijing office. During the orientation meeting, they had an unexpected visitor: Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing. (Or, as many call him, "YY.") He spoke off the cuff to the group, sharing his thoughts on the company, the future and the opportunity before them. Below are excerpts from his conversation with a future generation of Lenovians...

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25 years ago, I was as young as you are when I joined Lenovo. I had the same passion, dreams and hopes as you do today. I worked from being a sales guy all the way up to the challenging role that I have today, developing my own career while contributing to Lenovo’s success. During the same period, Lenovo grew from just an agent for foreign brands operating only in China to the global leader in the PC market.

Nowadays kids look at me and call me “Uncle” but Lenovo does not get old. Know why? Because we always have fresh blood like you joining us!

Today we live in the internet age. To us it means big changes in our lifestyle.  But to you, it’s no change at all because the internet has always been part of your life. That’s why Lenovo needs you--you can help us innovate and accelerate Lenovo’s transformation.

At Lenovo, your career has no ceiling. Lenovo is unique. We are the most global among the companies that started from China, yet the most local among the global companies that operate in China. Many Chinese companies only send the Chinese managers to lead operations in other countries, but Lenovo hires local senior management teams. Many global companies only send expats to lead their China operations but we are much more diverse. Our top leadership looks like the United Nations. Because of that, we can have a global view and compete and win in global markets. You have no ceiling at Lenovo.  Look right here: I am but one example of that. Now look around and ask yourself: who will become the next YY?  I hope more YY's will emerge from this crowd!

The HR team asked me to describe my expectations for you. As always, I give my expectations in 3's.  So, here are the three for today:

First, be ambitious. Don’t be complacent. Challenge the status quo. Lenovo is ambitious. When we were an agent of other brands, we wanted to build our own. Once we became #1 in China, we wanted to go global.  We acquired IBM PC when nobody believed we could do it, and we used this acquisition as the foundation to grow to the world’s #1 PC company. In fact, before we became #1 in PCs, we already started to establish our presence in smartphone, tablet, servers and storage.  We want Lenovo to be a sustainable business, built to last, and that’s our goal. So set a goal for yourself – a tangible, achievable but challenging goal. Over time, you will be able to influence more and contribute more.

Second, be a good learner. You have to know how to achieve your goal, so you must learn--from books, from a variety of experiences, from your colleagues and from your competitors. Combined with your own innovative ideas, these will help you stand out.

Third, persevere. Setting a goal is easy, but not many people or companies stick to it and achieve it. Why? They give up when they have a setback. If you do have a setback, I expect you to explore and try an alternative approach. Don’t turn back before you hit the wall, and don’t turn back even after you hit the wall.