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Acer's leadership ace

Stan Shih is widely known as the father of Taiwan's PC industry. With retirement a month away, he reflects on his legacy.

Ten years ago, Acer Chief Executive Stan Shih published an autobiography titled, "Me too is not my style."

It was an apt description, summing up a life that exemplifies what he preaches. Renowned for his unconventional ideas and business strategies, Shih turned Acer into one of the top five global computer companies. Under his leadership, the $4.6 billion company has grown into a 5,500-employee multinational enterprise.

A mistake made is a valuable lesson learned.

Shih's aspiration to inspire goes beyond Acer. In 1989, together with his wife, Carolyn, Shih established Acer's Aspire Park, a place where they hope to nurture a new generation of technology developers.

The multifunction "intelligent" park is now complete, with more than 425 acres of land on the outskirts of Taipei. The land houses manufacturing, recreational, conference and educational facilities, as well as family apartments. It also includes an educational institution to help company leaders improve their leadership skills.

With retirement scheduled for January 2005, Shih, the father of Taiwan's PC industry, hopes to be remembered for a legacy marked by bold moves and a willingness to challenge traditions. Shih recently spoke with CNETAsia.

Q: Which Asian values do you firmly believe in?
A: First, I believe in the philosophy that the human nature originates from honesty. Second, I think that continuous education is important. Third, people should always be aware that money should be used wisely and not wasted.

How do you apply these values to your business?
I trust my employees and am confident enough to delegate responsibilities to them. Also, I make it a point to provide my employees with continuous training. And when it comes to financial decisions, I am very cautious in order to minimize financial risks.

How would you describe your management style?
Changing from our former decentralized management to "one company, one brand, one global team."

What is your definition of "good" people? What qualities do you look out for?
In terms of employees, it is important for one to be dedicated to his job. He should be able to create value for the employer, and also be honest and responsible.

How do you motivate yourself and your employees?
I think that it is important to be able to delegate responsibilities and empower employees.

The biggest challenge when expanding overseas is to be cautious enough to minimize risks that one cannot afford.
Also, acknowledgement should be given to employees by rewarding their contribution to the company's success. I also believe that a mistake made is a valuable lesson learned.

What is the biggest challenge you face when expanding overseas?
The biggest challenge when expanding overseas is to be cautious enough to minimize risks that one cannot afford. It is also challenging to find and employ skilled talents that will help build a profitable brand business.

What do you hope to be remembered for when you leave your company?
My vision and my bold moves to innovate and break through traditions--having a "me too is not my style" attitude. Also, the belief and commitment that I had in building an Asian brand right from the start and successfully building a top five global PC brand upon retirement.