A dynamic illustration of how to combine engineering knowledge with effective management was provided by Dr Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President at Nissan Motor Company Ltd, on campus in November 2012. Dr Palmer, who holds a master's degree in engineering and a PhD degree in management, gave a fascinating presentation to students and professors on innovation and how this could support the company's Nissan Power 88 mid-term business strategy to raise profit margins and global market share to 8% by fiscal year 2016.
During his talk, entitled "Leadership of Innovation", Dr Palmer noted that to be successful innovation requires not only creativity but leadership backed by science and discipline. Using the Nissan Zero Emission Project and Nissan NY Taxi initiatives, among other examples, Dr Palmer showed how innovations are created, appreciated, managed and commercialized at Nissan.
Dr Palmer gained his MSc in Product Engineering from the University of Warwick in 1990 and a PhD in Management from Cranfield University in 2004. He joined Nissan in 1991, initially working as a business administration manager at the Nissan Technical Centre Europe. He transferred to Japan as Program Director for Light Commercial Vehicles in 2002 and established a business unit for these vehicles in 2004. The light commercial vehicle business was identified as one of the four breakthroughs in the company's business plan from 2005-07.
The presentation was organized by the School of Engineering and HKUST Institute for Advanced Study, and hosted by Prof Richard So, Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management. Mr Paul Miles, General Manager of Nissan Global Company Ltd in Hong Kong, also attended the talk. In October 2012, Prof So led HKUST colleagues to visit Infiniti (HK), Nissan's luxury brand now headquartered in Hong Kong, to explore potential collaborations between the company and HKUST.