Interview with Mike Campion, Regional Manager Asia/Pacific.

Mike Campion, Regional Manager Asia/Pacific

Mike Campion has worked for Sika since 1998. He has been Regional Manager Asia/Pacific since 2017.

What makes Asia/Pacific an exciting region to be present in for Sika? Where do you see the biggest opportunities going forward?

In the Asia/Pacific market, we have the benefit of various market economies creating an incredibly diverse and dynamic business environment. From the strong mature markets like Australia, Japan, and Korea to the massive emerging markets in China, India, and Southeast Asia.

The opportunities are everywhere in the region and the highest potential is certainly in these emerging markets. South Asia and Southeast Asia, in particular, have the highest gross domestic product and population growth prospects for the coming years. Population growth in Southeast Asia exceeds the Asian average. A general rule of thumb is that construction follows population growth. Southeast Asia’s massive need for infrastructure and urban development will fuel decades of major growth potential for Sika. We will bring smart and sustainable solutions to support this development.  

How is Sika dealing with this diversity? 

At Sika, we are always driving for sustainable growth in all markets. In our developed markets like Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, we look to the future with advanced technological solutions for smart cities and more sustainable construction solutions to support the changing demographic situations and rapidly increasing regulatory environment. In these markets, we hone the edge of construction technology for the next generation. In our emerging markets, we will help support the huge demand for infrastructure development. With our experience in more developed markets, we can support the technological solutions required to meet the needs in this changing world.

What are the biggest challenges in your role as regional manager?

The biggest challenge in the Asia/Pacific region is always the tremendous diversity throughout the region in terms of language, culture, religion, and business practices. You learn very quickly in Asia that you need to “speak the language” both literally and figuratively. The cultural norms vary widely and have a direct and implicit effect on business practices. I find this diversity both the greatest challenge and the most exciting and rewarding aspect of the role.

In 2022, there were shutdowns in China related to the zero-COVID policy. How did this affect your business development?

The lockdowns in China over the last three years have had a significant and material impact on our overall business in the country. On the demand side, our distribution business was thriving during the initial lockdowns as people focused on home refurbishments and small home projects. The infrastructure and project business slowed significantly. 

The supply side was naturally also affected with our manufacturing facilities being forced to close for extended periods and our supply of raw materials stopped or impaired by the lockdowns. This had a wider-ranging effect on our Asia/Pacific supply chain, as China remains the key trading partner with most Asian countries for construction materials, including our intercompany business.

Despite these challenges, our product portfolio and diversification in multiple market segments have delivered strong growth and profitability this past year. We expect a strong market rebound in this key market in 2023 with the country’s opening.

The future growth potential in Southeast Asia
Sika’s distribution sales in China are generated through a network of dealers with, as of today, more than 170,000 points of sale. You are now rolling out this business model in other Asian countries. Why is this business model so successful?

This distribution strategy and ecosystem were originally developed by the Building Finishing Team in China. The model is aligned with our “Customer First” strategy to remain close to customers and responsive to their needs in the market.

From this ecosystem, we have developed the “Sika Retail Leadership Journey” – an action-based model to allow all countries to quickly develop and maintain a retail market strategy. The success of this model incorporates the classic elements of market penetration, customer penetration, and brand awareness with an added element of strong engagement with our distributor and applicator partners. This successful model is continuously evolving with more advanced modules for digitalization in e-commerce, social media, and multiple category management development initiatives.

I see a very bright future for our Retail Leadership Journey in the Asia/Pacific region and beyond.

In many countries in Asia there still is a considerable need to build and expand infrastructure. Sizeable investments are being made, for example, in the area of rail and metro infrastructure. Sika is involved in several big projects: the Ahmedabad high-speed train in Mumbai, the Sydney Metro, and the MRT Orange Line in Bangkok, to mention but a few. What makes these projects particularly interesting for Sika? 

Large infrastructure projects are the main traditional business for the Asia/Pacific team. Sika is in the unique position to offer these complex and demanding projects the most extensive portfolio of building solutions and technologies in the industry. The work on these projects begins with a need and a concept from the owner and the selected design and specification team. We allow them the freedom to design structures with the most advanced technologies in the industry and push us to create more innovative solutions. We work with engineers and construction companies to bring this vision to life.  

Climate change brings challenges for all countries in the world. What significance does this topic have in Southeast Asia and what does Sika do to impact the development toward a more sustainable construction and transportation industry?

Climate change is a global challenge. Its effects, in terms of severe weather, are even more acute in Southeast Asia and other emerging markets, where the necessary infrastructure and safeguards are not always in place to protect those in critical areas. We are currently engaged in numerous projects throughout the region for dams, hydro-electric power stations, and bridges as well as storm and wastewater facilities to improve the situation in many countries.

New infrastructure projects utilize our sustainable solutions, leading to significant reductions in CO2 emissions and better utilization of scarce resources. Southeast Asian governments are aware of their vulnerability to climate change and have been actively developing and enforcing more green building standards. Sika continues to partner with the industry to facilitate this important transition and deliver cutting edge solutions to the problems of the future.

Sika is organized on a decentralized basis with strong local management teams and is a fast-growing company. Is it difficult to find enough qualified people? What makes Sika attractive as an employer? 

The need to attract, engage, develop, and retain our employees will always be our greatest ongoing challenge. We are in a very competitive market with a dynamic growth trajectory which requires a steady supply of talented and ambitious personnel. While challenging, we will continue to find the best and the brightest.  

Our ability to attract and retain these outstanding talents is clearly linked to our employer branding and our well-known company culture, the “Sika Spirit.” 

"The entrepreneurial spirit is part of our DNA and unique in the industry for the level of autonomy and responsibility granted to each and every employee. This is a very attractive culture to both existing and potential employees for a long-term career. We have seen this most recently with Sika China being recognized as “China’s Best Employer – 2022” by a world-leading executive leadership advisory company." Mike Campion, Regional Manager Asia/Pacific
After 17 years in leadership positions in the USA, you have now been working for Sika in Asia for close to 8 years. What fascinates you most about this region?

The extraordinary and vibrant people I have encountered within Sika, our customers and vendors, and the industry at large.  

I am fascinated by the region’s incredible cultural diversity and the dynamic growth of its megacities. Despite these cultural differences, the people of Asia are uniformly positive about their future in the face of the significant global economic challenges ahead. Driven by its population growth and increasing economic power, it’s the global bright spot for the future. The dynamism can be felt in the vibrant cities, in the speed of change and transformation, and the rapid digital and technological progress. The future is very bright for the Asia/Pacific region.

When I look back at my career in Sika, my greatest successes (and failures) have been in the development and advancement of my team. The most rewarding result for any leader is to see their people grow and develop into strong leaders themselves.  

During the past eight years, I have watched with great pride the development of the Asia/Pacific team and the continuous advancement of our people throughout the organization both in Asia/Pacific and across the Sika Group. We now have a record number of local General Managers and management team members from their home countries. While we have a solid mix of local and international talents, the development of talents within the local organizations has been astounding! With such dynamic growth in our local talent pools, we are positioned well for a bright future in the region. We are fit for the challenges ahead!