Coffee Chat: Take Risks, Show Passion, Build Relationships
On Wednesday, May 17th, employees from Samsung’s Ridgefield Park office gathered for the inaugural “Coffee Chat” session with guest speaker Nana Murugesan, Vice President & General Manager in the Services and New Business Division.
This new session series was launched by the Employee Engagement team as a way for employees across the company to mix and mingle with other Samsung employees, as well as to gain a greater understanding of what different departments do within the organization. Geared to be one part networking, one part informational and one part social, these sessions give employees the chance to learn more about the company as well as each other.
As Vice President & General Manager of the Services and New Business Division, Nana and his team steer the U.S. software and services business. With eight years’ experience at Samsung – four in Korea, and four in the United States – Nana was a natural choice to kick off ‘Coffee Chat.’ Having spent time first in Dallas, he now splits his time between Mountain View and Ridgefield Park, and was most recently named #1 in Business Insider Magazine’s list of Game Changers in the Payments Industry in recognition of his pioneering contributions to the way Samsung is offering more value and choices for its consumers through Samsung Rewards.
Moderated by Dan Tuckman, Product Marketing Manager, Services and New Business Division, the session was an interactive Q&A discussion.
Dan: Nana, You’ve had a very successful career at Samsung so far – can you share with us some of the accomplishments you are most proud of?
Nana: When I think about my time at Samsung, I think I am most proud of the calculated risks I’ve taken – and been empowered to take – on behalf of the business. I believe one of the greatest things about Samsung is that we have so many white space opportunities, and as Samsung employees we are encouraged to write our own script and try new things.
The Samsung Rewards program we launched 6 months ago is an example of this white space opportunity focused on disruptive innovation. In fact, this is the first service offering built from the ground up with each and every part of the Samsung Rewards program having been conceived and ideated by the Service and New Business Team. It felt good to take a chance on building a new program like this, just the way we wanted it to be, and see it come to fruition…but we’re not done! We’ve designed the Samsung Rewards program to be ever-evolving and expanding, so our opportunities in this space are virtually limitless!
Dan: I would agree – we are definitely given lots of opportunity to try new things – and when it pays off it’s incredibly rewarding. But trying new things can be stressful, and sometimes, the things you try don’t work out as planned. What’s your advice for dealing with the stress when it doesn’t go as smoothly as intended?
Nana: Very true – the highs can be incredibly high when everything is successful and you see your vision become reality. And the flip side is also as true, when we don’t hit it out of the ballpark frustrations can mount. My advice when you’re struggling, or feeling frustrated is to keep in mind that “Nothing comes from losing it.” We all get overwhelmed at times, no matter who you are – set-backs can happen. The learning is how we react in those moments, and where you decide to go from there ultimately determines your success.
For me, I find practicing Meditation and Yoga to be a huge help to allowing me to keep things in perspective – finding distance from a problem so I can come back and tackle it with a clear head. But really, it’s about finding your own way to be rational, when the knee jerk reaction is tempting you to act impulsively.
Take Risks! Don’t be afraid to chart your own course, especially when you have the conviction that it is the right thing to do for the business.
– Nana Murugesan
Dan: What is your greatest motivator? What gets you out of bed every day?
Nana: This might sound a bit quaint, but the amazing people in my team who I work with every day really drive me to do my best. The breadth and depth of talent on my team is truly motivating and their level of autonomy, ownership and creativity is incredible. My team inspires me to do better, work harder, and push further each and every day. And, the more I get to know people within the larger organization – not just my Services and New Business team – I realize we have an amazing pool of talent within Samsung at large. Each and every team has brilliant minds doing great things.
Dan: What are your top 3 tips for success?
Nana: My personal recipe for success comes in three parts:
- Take Risks! – Don’t be afraid to chart your own course, especially when you have the conviction that it is the right thing to do for the business, and look for the white space in any opportunity. We already touched upon this, but Samsung is a terrific place for employees who are willing to take calculated risks – and to draw on their own blank canvas. At the end of the day Samsung is a supportive place where you should feel empowered to take risks.
- Show Passion – Even if you don’t have ALL the details locked in perfectly, be passionate in everything you do. Be relentless and be a trail blazer!
- Build Relationships – One of the things that has helped me the most at Samsung is that I have built relationships with people all across the company – not only within my direct teams. Get to know people in a genuine, authentic way and understand what they do, and foster relationships. Pay close attention and offer to help whenever someone needs it. Informal links and connections with people throughout the organization are key at Samsung, and will make you better at your job, give you access to resources from places you didn’t have access to before, and simply make your time at work even more enjoyable. Sessions like this ‘Coffee Chat’ is a great start.
Dan: OK, let’s keep on that track of getting to know people within the organization – for people who aren’t familiar with our team, can you describe what the Services and New Business team does exactly?
Nana: So, the simplest way to describe it is to think about it is that there are two engines driving Samsung’s business now and for the future. The first one is our core business: products – Samsung makes the best products available anywhere, bar none. The second one is our new business: services – and that’s where our Services and New Business team comes in. And when I talk about “services” I mean the apps and platforms that run across those amazing products. Our team is responsible for combining products with software/services and growing them into new businesses. We are an inter-disciplinary growth team with members who focus on strategy, investment, product marketing and business operations.
Dan: Can you talk a little more about why Samsung is investing so much time, energy and resources into “Services?”
Nana: That’s a really good question. Samsung’s investment in services is really about looking to the future and identifying how we can continue to bring our customers what they need before they know they even need it! People buy Samsung products (the physical devices – phones, wearables, computers, tablets, appliances, etc.) but they interact with its interfaces, be it touch screens, voice commands, visual search on camera, sensors, scanners, or transmitters. What people do on those interfaces is where we learn from our customers– how they use them, for what, when, and how – is all valuable to deliver new and meaningful benefits that are also personalized and contextual. By developing Samsung Services that leverage ‘smart interfaces’ across our broad product portfolio, we can strengthen our value proposition to our partners and customers, and also unlock new business opportunities.
Additional Coffee Chat sessions are scheduled for upcoming weeks, with the next one being Michael Forrest, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Retail at Samsung Electronics America.