Navigating the rapidly evolving market landscape requires business leaders to employ innovative strategies that keep pace with change. As the market dynamics shift swiftly, business leaders must stay agile and proactive in their approach to remain competitive. Embracing innovative strategies becomes paramount to not only survive but also thrive in a fast-changing marketplace.
Innovation serves as a powerful tool for business leaders to differentiate themselves from the competition, seize emerging opportunities, and anticipate customer needs. By fostering a culture of creativity and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking, organizations can unleash the potential for ground-breaking ideas and solutions.
Adopting innovative strategies requires a willingness to challenge conventional practices, be inquisitive, take calculated risks, and adapt quickly to changing customer demands.
Successfully navigating the fast-changing marketplace demands, a relentless pursuit of innovation and a willingness to embrace change, Thomas L. Hager, the Vice President Financial Services – Global Accounts, Lenovo is setting the benchmark of thought leadership.
Featuring for The Enterprise World’s this issue of The Most Successful Business Leaders to Watch Out For is his story.
Thomas L. Hager’s Stellar Journey
“As a leader, I want to provide a purpose for everybody, and what we are working for.”
Born and raised in Germany, Thomas moved to the US for an exchange program at the age of 18. He finished his high school education and moved on to get a Ph.D. at Mexico State University in Rhetoric in Professional Communication. His Dissertation Thesis was completed whilst working at IBM. The title of the thesis was Knowing the Users of a Corporate Web Site: Gaining a Sense of Audience in a New Medium.
Thomas L. Hager started his professional journey at IBM where he was hired in the Development lab in Germany. From there on, he worked through various departments of the development lab, as well as sales and marketing functions before joining the financial services sector.
Within IBM, Thomas L. Hager became the youngest Managing Director, and at the same time was assigned to China for 5 years to manage the relationship with a global bank. After his successful stint in China, Thomas moved back to Germany to run the Financial Services Industry (FSI) vertical and then joined to lead the European FSI transformational team before joining Lenovo in October of 2021 to lead the FSI global accounts vertical.
“Very early on in my career, I realized that I wanted to lead experts and teams in a large enterprise.”
The Challenges of Leadership
With the different manager training programs that existed within IBM, Thomas L. Hager took full advantage of these and saw his take on challenges shift, where he became more solution-oriented.
Earlier in Thomas’ career, he was a manager leading a team of architects and technical specialists in sales. Next, he managed a sales team. While leading a sales team, Thomas covered smaller clients and then larger FSI clients in Germany and around the world. Recalling his journey, Thomas states, “Training is one thing, and managing and learning from situations is a whole different game. For that you need experience.”
When training and experience go hand in hand, some of the best results come out of it. With Thomas’ expertise in the former, he only needed to excel in the latter. The greatest challenge thus remained- experience.
“I was able to very quickly learn on the job; how to manage tasks and lead people.”
With this, Thomas L. Hager developed his own style of leadership. Steven Covey and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people helped him early on to overcome some of the challenges in leadership. Industry education and speaking at conferences required Thomas to continuously learn during his career and kept him abreast with the fast changing IT environments of clients and the industry at large.
Another challenge in Thomas’ journey was shifting between and adjusting to different cultures, organizational structures and teams but in the long-term, it was this experience and exposure that enabled him to stay attuned to the different needs of his team and get the best out of them.
Gaining a better understanding of all aspects paved the way for Thomas L. Hager to become a global leader.
Leading to Drive Change
Spearheading Financial Services at Lenovo
“At Lenovo, I oversee revenue, profit, customer satisfaction and overall relationship Lenovo has with large global banks, financial institutions and insurance companies.”
Thomas L. Hager’s role at Lenovo encapsulates the full 360 degrees round relationship in and of the company. As the leader, he stresses on several quintessential qualities that a leader needs to thrive in the competition, including:
- Strategic Thinking
- Communication Skills
- Emotional Intelligence
- Continuous Learning
“These are some of the qualities I try to embody and execute when it comes to my clients.”
At Lenovo, when a client comes on board, with a vision to innovate and move forward, the team strives to bring co-development on the table. “We don’t just partner with them, we seek to be better in what they are doing,” says Thomas.
With this in mind, the team not only brings its products, solutions and services to them, but it also brings along their large ecosystem and network to them. Thus, in this partnership, the team is able to bring the best of the best in the industry in the context and the particular problem solving situation that those clients are in, which will help them solve the problems.
As a part of a matrix organization, Thomas L. Hager has direct salespeople and also indirect product people that he has to lead and bring together as one Lenovo team that helps the clients do what they want to do.
Being the Vice President of Financial Services for Global Accounts, Thomas’ responsibilities are not limited to just the existing clients, he also has an influence on the different brands that Lenovo has. From end user devices to the data centers where they bring infrastructure and storage together to help the clients, Thomas’ responsibilities span from bringing these together to ensuring smooth sailing of the services and solutions.
Apart from these, Thomas’ authority also moves ahead to managing the services team that brings all this together, the industry solutions team that brings the right solutions of software partners that are not part of Lenovo to ideate a unique solution to really help clients solve their challenges.
The Accolades of a Remarkable Journey
“I am very proud of being able to work across different cultures and countries and to be able to globally manage teams and work with different clients.”
One thing Thomas L. Hager is the most proud of is to get this new challenge of putting together a team and leading them with conviction and reaching across the globe.
Moving forward, he says, “I am very happy to bring in my new strategy of where I want to go. I have ambitious goals, where I want to double my revenue over the next five years. With this I also plan on expanding the vertical that today has 55 global clients. My aim is to expand it to include all banks and financial institutions as well as insurance companies as we move forward.”
What Lies Ahead?
“Staying on top of new technology”
Lenovo continues to be on the cutting edge of technology, where the team is continuously working to develop its products and services. With a well-equipped research lab, Lenovo embarks on Proof of Concept (PoC) projects, learns from it and strives to continuously develop and innovate. For example AR/VR for learning, training and development..
“I think the game changes when we understand the overall trends and how it will benefit the customers. And that’s what we aim to do.”, Thomas L. Hager.
Innovation is the Name of the Game
Lenovo is a global technology company that operates in over 60 countries. The company culture at Lenovo is characterized by a commitment to innovation, collaboration, and customer focus.
“Here are some key aspects of Lenovo’s company culture, and one I strive for from myself and my team:”
- Innovation: Lenovo is committed to driving innovation in its products and services. The company encourages its employees to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems.
- Collaboration: Lenovo fosters a culture of collaboration and teamwork. The company believes that by working together, its employees can achieve great things and deliver better results for customers.
- Customer focus: Lenovo puts its customers at the center of everything it does. The company is dedicated to understanding its customers’ needs and delivering products and services that meet those needs.
- Inclusivity and diversity: Lenovo believes that diversity and inclusivity are essential to building a strong and successful company. The company is committed to creating an inclusive work environment that values different perspectives and backgrounds.
- Continuous learning: Lenovo encourages its employees to continually learn and grow professionally. The company offers a range of training and development programs to help employees develop new skills and advance their careers, including:courses, training, workshops, and mentorship programs.
Overall, Lenovo’s company culture is focused on innovation, collaboration, customer focus, inclusivity and diversity, and continuous learning. These values are embedded in the company’s DNA and guide its decisions and actions.
Striking the Right Chords
You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.” – Katie Thurms.
“The definition of work-life balance is different for different people. For me, it’s how I feel and have a positive feeling so the flow continues; some days I work longer hours, and on other days – I don’t but may feel inspired and come back to it over the weekend. Even when I’m on holiday; sometimes I check my mail, and sometimes I don’t – it really does depend. For me, work and life are synonymous – work-life balance is something very personal. As long as you feel healthy – in your mind and in your body, so you can stand up and achieve your goals.”
Word for the Wise
“Be proactive, start with the end goal in mind first. Do the small things, which lead to the bigger things. Think about the first 3 habits from 7 effective habits of a highly successful leader. These are important because it’s all about yourself, know yourself: – who are you in the process, once you know yourself, then you can work with others and you can move onto the second point, you cannot do everything yourself, leverage your ecosystem to gain a wider access to experts to achieve your goals, then you can be a successful leader.
Be communicative, paint the vision, make them part of the solution, think win-win, continuously learn. Study the 7 habits of an effective leader. I focus on the first three, as they focus on me as a leader – this is where it starts.”
Growth and comfort don’t go well together; you have to suffer a little to achieve your goals.