After been clocking some 26 years with Volvo, it is not too much of a hassle for Robert Norrman to take his new posting as President of Volvo Car Malaysia and the rest of Asia region. It is sure double and double responsibilities of his previous position but Robert is still giving his best!!!
Robert was in Thailand for almost six years as a President of Volvo Thailand until the first of May 2007 he was reassigned on two new roles station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Robert’s new challenge is to take on a role as the President of Volvo Car’s Asian Hub. He is also a President of Volvo Car Malaysia, managing the day to day running of this national sales company.
“Beside Malaysia I have to look after the sales in Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore. It is a lot different than my posting in Bangkok in term of responsibility” says Robert who has wealth of experience in Thailand’s car luxury market.
Robert’s current project is to work with Volvo’s acuity of brand value and how to reinforce it.
“The good thing about Volvo is that everybody know what it is, most people look up to the brand because of its safety but we have to make it more effective to people, especially younger people. We just launched the C30 which challenge a younger market preconception that Volvos are “ that boxy car your Dad drives?”
He said although the 850 model from the 1980s marked a big change from Volvo’s traditional looks, the boxy perception lingers in people’s minds.
“The current generation of Volvos from the XC90 to the C30, and the next generation XC60 have done a lot to strengthen our new image. We need to make sure that we have the rights products, right pricing and correct all the wrong perceptions about us,” he said.
Volvo in Asia Market
According to Robert Volvo this year sees over 20 percent growths in the region and most of that growth in the market came from Thailand.
“I am very happy because we have very tough years in Thailand starting with the Tsunami, Bird Flu and the Military Coup. Despite these we see a growth in the Thai Market, which is very positive. We also see growth in Malaysia and the other markets. We are planning for another increase of 20 per cent total in the region for next year, you can say that we are quite optimistic,” Robert states the goal.
To reach that 20 per cent Robert already has some strategies in mind.
“We have a possibility of introducing new cars especially in Malaysia and Thailand where we haven’t been spoiled with new cars hence that both countries have local production, one factory in Malaysia and one in Thailand,”
For example the new Volvo S80, which has just been launched in Thailand and Malaysia is one among Volvo’s wide range new products from modern design to luxury.
When asked of the accomplishment of the 20 percent growth this year Robert believed that it is because Volvo Asia managed to increase the brand value.
“ In Thailand we see the positive sale on the new S80 and the XC90, as for Malaysia Volvo is now the fastest growing brand in the premium segment. We also managed to clear a lot of old issues and constantly develop a good cooperation with our dealers which keep this growth steady,” explains Robert.
Car of the Year
In November Volvo S80 has been awarded Car of the Year “Safety Innovation” in Malaysia
“To be in this segment you need to have quality and certain equipment on the course but what makes Volvo special is our Scandinavian heritage and that we are the world leader in safety,” says Robert.
Malaysia Auto Market
According to Robert the Market in Malaysia is down at the moment, however it is not too bad for Volvo.
“Actually we are the one increasing the most right now in this small segment. The competition in our target market is quite tough because it is mostly dominated by two German brands but we’ve been in this region for so many years that we’ve gained trust and loyalty from our customers,” says Robert.
As for Robert’s personal challenge is to find free time since not only Malaysia that he has to take care of but he also has to look after other eight markets in the region. He said with a smile that he doesn’t have enough time to travel but it still too much.
After staying in Thailand for quite some time Robert admitted that he has experienced a culture shock during the first months in Malaysia.
“I was in Thailand for almost six years so I pretty much know everything about the culture and the people. Now I’m in a new country and I have to start from scratch again trying to understand everything,” says Robert who has spent most of his career with Volvo Car both in Sweden and through several management postings around the world, from Germany to The Netherlands, Singapore and South Africa.
“Malaysia is also a lot different from Thailand in term of culture, here you have three different races and things are being done in different ways. Sometime I get a bit frustrated but I think that happens when you are in the new places. Looking on a bright side the traffic here is better than Bangkok! So yes, I like it here in KL but I also miss Thailand, everybody miss Thailand,” he says with a smile.
Last Chapter of Career’s Life
Robert has been working with Volvo for almost 30 years and his contract with the company will be up until 2009.
“I don’t know what will happen after that but I like it to be in Asia, Malaysia is the 6th country I’ve done my post outside Sweden. It’s very interesting to see other cultures and people, to try to understand the world.
The jovial Robert Norrman who is 59, cuts a slim figure and a sprightly demeanor which he attributes to golfing once a week and fitness workouts.
“My goal in life is to stay healthy, be happy and to not worried too much about tomorrow. I try to catch the day and live for today, you’d never know what will happen tomorrow, it is not negative thinking but that’s the way life is.” concludes Robert.