In an effort to highlight our most influential leaders and executives, Samsung regularly hosts internal “coffee chat” events to foster inter-department networking and expose talent to leadership success stories from all areas of the company.

Michael Lawder, Senior Vice President of Customer Care, is the latest in our leadership event series to give an insider’s view of Samsung and insight into his path to success.

Josh Ives, vice president of customer experience (left), joins Michael Lawder, senior vice president of customer care (right), during the coffee chat session held for Samsung Electronics America employees.

Q: You lead, arguably, one of the most critical departments to Samsung’s success in the U.S. – Customer Care. What is it about this role that keeps you motivated and inspired?

A: What is a company without its customers? They are arguably the most important aspect of our business. And while many people think call centers and fixing broken products, might not sound very glamorous, Customer Care is so much more than that.
The industry and customers’ needs and wants have been rapidly changing, which makes this role challenging. However, it’s especially rewarding because we are evolving as well, by developing new and innovative ways to meet our customers’ needs.

We’re shifting from simply fixing products to helping customers get the most out of their products. We’re there to support them throughout their journey with Samsung.  For example, with Premium Care, our latest evolution in Customer Care, we’ll even come to them, wherever they are, to help them with their product – their house, office, or even their favorite coffee shop.

My team is also responsible for managing all of our parts, our technical testing and relationship with Consumer Reports, our service relationship with our carriers, product readiness for new product launches, product quality and liability, strategic account management with our largest retailers, B2B and all of our strategic and innovative care experiences, and the overall Care strategy.

What keeps me motivated and inspired about Customer Care is that it really is a critical piece of Samsung’s overall service offerings and brand identity. Without questions from customers and partners, we wouldn’t hear from them, and on the flip side, without the constant evolution and innovation of product as well as consumer behavior, we wouldn’t be as inspired to continue to push the envelope and innovate new ways to meet customer needs.

Q: Tell us about your leadership style and what tactics you utilize to drive your team forward?

A: My leadership style is really about working hard to build the very best teams with the smartest and most capable people who work well together, empowering them, supporting them, enabling them, removing barriers for them and rewarding them when they deliver above and beyond.  I also tend to adapt my leadership and engagement approach for each individual person, as everyone needs a little something different to thrive.

I have also been working on accelerating progress and finding the right approach to lead the team to higher levels of efficiency when I’m not actually doing the work myself. It requires clear direction, regular check-ins, as well as ongoing and constant support, but not micro-management.

Q: What led to your success and what advice do you have for others on achieving success in their careers?

A: The biggest contributors to my success have been:

  1. Being passionate about everything. For me, in my current role this means being passionate about the products and services we support, the people we hire, the new experiences we bring to life.
  2. Being aggressive about seeking out new opportunities.  My advice is to never wait for them to come to you.  If you really want something, go after it.
  3. Building the best teams. I think of this as similar to putting together the right musicians when creating a great new album or song – bringing together a team of amazing and diverse people that are greater than the sum of their parts when working together is key to anyone’s success.
  4. Using my creativity and trying to be innovative in everything that I do. At Samsung especially, there is not one day that doesn’t require a creative spark to fuel new ideas and new approaches to getting work done.

My advice for others?  I recently discovered a term called Ikigai.  It is a Japanese concept that translates to “a reason for being.”  It is about finding a harmony between that which you love, that which you are good at, that which you can be paid for, and that which the world needs.  My advice for anyone is to find a purpose at work and make sure that the work you’re doing is consequential, that you care about it and that you are fulfilled.  Also, never be afraid to go after what you want!