As part of our new Q&A series we interview you, and find out what your job is day to day. In this edition our sister publication, Ferret, speaks to Andy Pearson, Rockwell Automation's manager Asia Pacific, for its Technical Support Centre.
Ferret: What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job? Give us a day in your working life.
Andy Pearson: I am the Remote Support Services Centre Manager for the Asia-Pacific region for Rockwell Automation. In this role, I manage a team that provides technical assistance to Rockwell Automation customers. The support takes place by telephone, email or through online chat services.
We provide this service by use of our extensive knowledge of the services and products provided by Rockwell Automation and by utilising our global technical support database. We also provide support to our in house global technical teams working in the automation space.
We have three remote support centres in the region. I operate out of our Melbourne centre, but I am also responsible for two other centres, in Shanghai and India.
My primary role is to manage the operations at these centres and make sure we have the required technical competency and resources available to support our customers. The Asia support centre also forms part of our global “Follow the Sun” service which offers 24/7 support for our customers by also utilising our support centres in Europe and the Americas
Ferret: What training/education did you need for your job?
Andy Pearson: I’m originally from the United Kingdom. I started my career as an electrical apprentice for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). I studied Electrical / Electronic Engineering at Teesside University in the UK. Since then, I’ve also taken many development courses in automation technology, business, leadership and project management. I am a certified Project Management professional.
Ferret: How did you get to where you are today?
Andy Pearson: I started as an electrical apprentice with ICI before moving into electrical design engineering for the ICI engineering design office. Eventually I joined a system integration group in the UK where I started to specialise in Automation Engineering.
I have worked on many automation projects as a Project Engineer and then Project Manager in the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific.
In 1996, I immigrated with my family to New Zealand, which is where I joined Rockwell Automation. My first role with Rockwell Automation was as a project engineer/project manager running automation projects as part of the solution delivery group.
I was offered the opportunity to manage a large facilities management project for the semiconductor industry in Malaysia. Whilst working on that project, which lasted about a year, Rockwell Automation asked me to take over the Solution Delivery team in South-East Asia, which was more of a business management role. I was in that position for 10 years before I moved to Melbourne to manage the Asia Pacific Technical Support Centre two years ago.
Ferret: What tools and/or software do you use on a daily basis?
Andy Pearson: The primary software tool we use is the SAP CRM module. With this software every interaction we have with our customers, colleagues and partners is documented in a service ticket. We document everything to the industry standard, Knowledge Centered Support methodology (KCS).
We use the standards so that a documented solution can be used globally for the benefit of all our customers. It is accessible through our global knowledge base solution, Rockwell Automation Support Centre.
Ferret: What is the one thing that you are most proud of in your professional life?
Andy Pearson: During the period I spent in Southeast Asia as a solution business manager, I helped build a project delivery team capable of delivering diverse automation solutions across multiple countries. That’s something I am most proud of during my time with Rockwell Automation, helping to build up the Solution Delivery business in Southeast Asia.
Ferret: Biggest daily challenge?
Andy Pearson: The biggest challenge is keeping up with the technological changes in the industry. We have new products and services being released on a regular basis and we need to ensure our support team is up to date with the new technology and we continually update our competency.
Another challenge is balancing resources to match customer contact volume so that we have the bandwidth to cope with the level of calls and enquiries we receive. Our Technical Support Centre is managed to a set industry standard of KPIs around service levels and customer satisfaction. Each interaction we have with a customer generates a feedback survey, which helps us to monitor and manage customer satisfaction.
Ferret: Biggest career challenge?
Andy Pearson: The biggest challenge in my career was during the period I moved into more of a commercial role. I had always been involved on the technical side of the business as a project engineer or manager. Then during my time in Malaysia I was asked to run the solution business and I had to pick up the required commercial skills very quickly. It was a significant change from what was purely a technical and operational role to a business / commercial position. That is when you really need a great mentor and I was lucky enough to have one.
Ferret: What is your biggest frustration in your job?
Andy Pearson: Customer service is a priority for our group and having detailed customer case knowledge is an important step towards achieving this. We have implemented processes and templates to allow for consistency and ease of information sharing between the group and the biggest frustration is getting people to adhere to the templates and processes.
Different people have different ways of doing things and I’ve found that the key to maintaining detailed and accurate documentation is by helping them to
understand that getting it right early saves time down the track.
Ferret: What is the biggest challenge facing your business?
Andy Pearson: Establishing the concept of paid for technical support in Asia’s emerging markets. The customer buys a contract that gives them the ability to access real-time technical support of products supplied by Rockwell Automation. That concept is well established in what might be considered more mature markets in the South Pacific, North America and Europe.
When a customer is in trouble, and there is potential to lose significant revenue in lost production, to have an experienced global team available at any hour of the day, that you can reach in real time, in your local language is of great value to our customers.
Ferret: Is there anything else about your job you want Australia to know about?
Andy Pearson: We are working to expand our Asia Pacific service to include an application support service. When a customer calls and says they have a problem or query with a product we will support them by helping to rectify the issue. However, if we also know how the product has been applied then we are able to offer the next level of support.
To get to that next level, we endeavor to gain a greater understanding of the customer’s manufacturing process and how they have developed their application. We will spend time with the customer to transfer that knowledge of their system to our team. We also set up a dedicated group of engineers for the customer so that when the customer calls they are talking to a person who has in-depth knowledge of their system. We will also review the system and any support events with the customer at scheduled review meetings.