Up Close With Ben Hoge, Managing Director of Goodyear

1.How would you describe your management style?

I am a people-oriented business leader who enjoys challenging the present to build for the future. My leadership style can best be described as authentic, transparent and result driven. I will give immediate and frank feedback while maintaining a constructive and inspirational atmosphere. Connecting with customers and employees comes naturally.

2.Who inspires you the most and why? How have you incorporated that into your daily life?

I am inspired by Barack Obama.

  • His strong belief and conviction in what is right
  • His message of including all citizens instead of excluding and polarizing groups
  • His strong communication skills
  • His positive can-do mentality and focus on change

I try to be an inspiring leader by listening to all employees and giving them an opportunity to participate and be engaged. I am very approachable and we have an open office so it is easy to communicate.

My presentation skills are certainly not as good as Obama but I am working on it!

As a leader, we need to stay positive and convinced that we can find a solution together for any problem at hand. Sometimes I am good at it but we are all human so I think I still can improve that part as well.

3.How do you see your organization changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating/being a part of that change?

We have made some big changes in the way we operate in the last 2 years. We have moved to an aligned distribution model with selected professional distributors and premium retailers. We cleaned up our product portfolio, introducing fresh new patterns with excellent consumer benefits regarding safety, comfort, fuel consumption and performance.

In the coming years, we will see new investments in our plant, preparing ourselves for higher performing tyres. New generation cars made in Malaysia will need even better tyres going forward and we want to be ready to support them. We also will invest in our brand to maintain high awareness amongst consumers in Malaysia.   

4.Tell me about an accomplishment or a memorable incident that shaped your career.

I always remember the first time I became a manager where I was responsible for a small team. I was unfortunate to be appointed in the middle of some big organizational changes and I was not prepared to plan for success and stand up for myself to demand certain conditions to be met. I was understaffed, had to work with new underperforming systems and processes and worked with a new boss who was not able to cope with the pressure from his boss. I was almost losing my job due to some big mistakes that were made. I learned that I should not blame the environment but start looking at myself first: what could I have done differently? How could I have avoided this from happening?

From that moment on, I will never blame the environment for not achieving what we committed to do and I also like my team to not do that. I don’t like the ‘victim’ attitude. We are all able to shape our own destiny as long as we stay proactive, plan well and communicate to all stakeholders.  

5.What would we be surprised to learn about you?

That I like to play the piano and take lessons to learn to play better? I am not a good player, but I enjoy music and I enjoy doing something completely different. Something creative.

6.What book are you reading or podcast you most recommend?

I like to read history books. I also read fiction but this one was something I found really interesting. The title is ‘Why the west rules – for now’ written by Ian Morris. It is published in 2010 and it analyses the different cycles of welfare between East (mainly China) and West (Europe and later, of course, the U.S.). It goes back to the start of humanity until very recent history. It is obviously quite relevant to the current political situation between China and the U.S.  

7.What do you do for fun?

I play the piano, hockey and sometimes go out for a hike. I have a family with three children and spend quite some time with friends socializing.  I read books and listen to music. I also like to go to the movies with the family. We like to travel and explore beautiful places in Asia. We have been to many different areas in Malaysia. It is such a beautiful country. We love the food and the culture!