Admittedly, Proton has been making a loss in recent years and it’s up to Geely to turn the ship around when it acquired a 49.9 per cent stake in Proton from DRB-Hicom in mid-2017. To take on the uphill task, Geely’s headquarters in Zhejiang, China has specifically chosen Dr Li Chunrong to spearhead this mission and he has done a remarkable job so far.
Unlike some high-ranking officers who only have paper qualifications, Dr Li possesses both academic qualifications and valuable experience in the automotive field.
According to The Star, Dr Li graduated from Huazhong University of Science and Technology with a Bachelor of Electrical Automation before he pursued his Master in Industrial Engineering and Management.
Later, he furthered his studies at the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to earn his second master’s degree before returning to Huazhong University to get his PhD in Management Engineering.
Work experience wise, he kickstarted his career with Dongfeng Motor Corporation in 1987 where he was working closely with international names such as Peugeot, Honda, Nissan, Kia and Cummins. Then, 20 years later, he set up Dongfeng Passenger Vehicle where he was in charge of the firm’s design, branding and production system. It was a huge success.
Before being appointed by Geely to lead Proton in September 2017, he was serving as executive vice-president of Dongfeng Honda Engine Company.
“My job is not to look at the past. I will work day and night to make sure Proton is strongly successful. In Proton, I work 12 hours a day, six days per week. But I have been doing so since I started working,” he said, adding that he is a “kumin ren”, which can be translated as someone destined to lead a tough life.
Revamping a company that has been around for decades wasn’t easy as Dr Li’s management was criticised by certain parties. In fact, the management was accused of harbouring discrimination against bumiputras but it soon became clear that it wasn’t the case when the upgraded service centres started making more profit and received more business than ever.
Also, the launch of SUV Proton X70 has propelled the brand to greater heights when it received 20,000 orders.
“I am happy now. Things are on track. Starting from 60,000 units, my next target for Proton is 100,000 units, followed by 150,000 and 200,000. I now have the support of everybody. Malaysia is wonderful, the climate and air is good and the food is wonderful,” Dr Li said during an interview with Sunday Star.
Although the management of Proton has changed hands, it’s still heartwarming to see Malaysia’s first national car flourishing. All the best Proton!
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