How Rami Hajjar, CEO, Signify Southeast Asia is Heading in the Right Direction for 2024

by Portfolio Magazine
16 Jan 2024

For most, the new year symbolizes new beginnings – it’s when ever-evolving resolutions officially start, when new habits are formed, and when we finally act on things we’ve kept putting off. But for these top executives, it’s also a period for reflection and decisive action, which will allow them to skillfully, yet cautiously, navigate the business through the most favorable path.

"As Signify's CEO for Southeast Asia, I spearhead initiatives to introduce innovative connected lighting solutions across the region. Our company purpose is to unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. This means not only revolutionizing the way we illuminate spaces, but also contributing significantly to broader societal and environmental goals. By leading the transition to efficient, connected LED lighting technologies, we leverage circular economy principles to champion climate action, reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, promote responsible resource use, and lower our carbon footprint."

What were some of your professional highlights for 2023?
Today, Signify stands as a beacon of change, achieving 100% carbon neutrality across our own operations since 2020, a testament to our commitment of having sustainability at the heart of our business.

In 2023, the world faced volatile and unpredictable macroeconomic conditions, but we have done well in growing our connected light points and committing to our sustainability efforts. One of the highlights this year was witnessing the first LED night race at F1 Singapore Airlines Grand Prix. We partnered with DZ Engineering SRL, to supply more than 1600 Philips ArenaVision LED floodlights. The switch to LED lighting was at least 30% more energy efficient, supporting Singapore GP’s sustainability journey.

How far in advance do you think about work strategies for the new year and how do you get started?
My approach revolves around the philosophy of continuous improvement. Success is not the only goal. Rather, it is the work we put in every day because there is always something to improve on and that is what drives me. At Signify, we are working towards a more sustainable business model where we look at continuous improvement – balancing both the short and the long-term business impact as part of a multi-year strategy.

This forward-looking strategy ensures that our business practices evolve organically to be able to adapt to changing landscapes, and we are constantly refining our approaches to enhance efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable future.

Where do you think your industry is headed in the coming year? What steps are you taking to ensure a smooth and favorable journey?
Being the world leader in lighting, my goal is to lead Signify’s growth within the region by providing high quality, energy-efficient lighting products and services, with sustainability at our core. Climate change continues to be a top priority, with governments and companies looking to accelerate their efforts to reduce energy consumption and find more sustainable solutions.

Our priorities in 2024 include enhancing our focus on the growth opportunities presented by the accelerating transition to ultra-efficient LED and connected lighting technologies in the region. With escalating energy costs, there’s an increased demand for energy-efficient solutions. Through our ‘Green Switch’ initiative, we advocate for the adoption of energy- efficient LED lighting technologies to not only enhance businesses’ operational efficiency, but also contribute significantly to environmental sustainability.

By setting clear sustainability key performance indicators (KPI) to guide our strategies, we can see success in what we set out to do. This has to trickle down to every part of the business to ensure we walk the talk; from working with suppliers that prioritize sustainability, and to monitoring and auditing our procurement processes.

(Related: Why high net worth individuals need to rethink everything in 2024)

What is your professional New Year’s resolution?
At the heart of what we do at Signify, we have a mission of empowering communities in the region through connected lighting solutions and I’d love to look into additional ways that my team and I can do so in the new year. An example close to my heart is solar lighting. As part of our CSR efforts, we brought solar lighting to remote villages in Indonesia which helped to illuminate their homes. Seeing how our donation also enabled the children to study at night and improve their lives was heart- warming.

And your personal?
This year, I am committed to prioritizing my health and well-being and make more mindful choices to lead a healthier lifestyle. I’m also looking forward to being more intentional about spending more quality time with my family and loved ones. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day but at the end of it all, relationships are what truly matters. Finally, I aspire to actively seek out opportunities to help those in need – be it through volunteer work, acts of kindness, or supporting charitable causes, I’d like to make a positive impact on others.

Working hard or working smart – which side are you on and why?
When I joined Signify 14 years ago, I wasn’t an expert on lighting and the sustainability space was evolving rapidly. I came from a background in consulting, so I had to work smart, be resourceful, take risks, and try different approaches to doing things.

Today, this is reflected in the way I lead the team, where I inculcate a culture of trust and respect, empowering my team with autonomy, reinforcing the importance of work-life balance (and actually leaving work on time myself!). As long as the work gets done, the team should work smart and take time to recharge – this way, we ensure that they have space to be creative, stay motivated to deliver more impact in a more sustainable way.

How are you preparing yourself physically and mentally for the new set of challenges the new year brings?
I use the 3 Rs; Rest, Reflect, and Recalibrate to get myself equipped for challenges in the new year. I believe that it is crucial to take the time to rest and recharge so that I can do a better job at addressing challenges. Self-reflection is a powerful tool that helps one extract from the past on how to engage the future. Reflecting on the achievements and challenges this past year, it helps to guide me in how I can recalibrate strategies and tactics to achieve positive transformation for my team.