Victor Taichung Machinery Works, located in the Taichung City Precision Machinery Innovation Technology Park, is Taiwan’s first smart factory built on the framework of Industry 4.0. It has also received certification for the Green Building Label from the Ministry of the Interior. Looking around, energy-saving and carbon-reducing designs are evident throughout the factory. Rooftop solar panels generate green energy, automated production lines and machine interconnectivity monitor power consumption in real-time, and an underground pipe system can cool the temperature by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius in the summer.
“Our rainwater harvesting system can effectively save water resources. If we sum up all the energy-saving data across the entire group, it is equivalent to the carbon absorption of 215 Taichung Metropolitan Parks and 726 Taipei Daan Forest Parks each year,” says Catherine Huang, emphasizing the commitment to carbon reduction.
“When it comes to carbon reduction, the eyes of Catherine Huang, Sustainability Director of Victor Taichung and Chairperson of Taiwan Digital Enterprise Alliance (TDEA), light up: ‘This is not just the responsibility of the company. I see it as a way for me to journey with the world. Therefore, besides making Victor Taichung do what it should, I really hope more people can join in achieving this goal. This is my goal and also the goal of the TDEA.'”
On the Long Road of Sustainability, Starting with 30 Minutes of Reading Every Morning
Taiwan’s leading indicator in autonomous carbon reduction, Victor Taichung, has been in existence for over 70 years. Currently, Catherine Huang, the third generation of the family business and Chairperson of TDEA, is actively promoting sustainable transformation. “For me, reading and sharing are the same thing. This is how I start each day. I believe that having this attitude is crucial in promoting sustainability. It’s about companionship, support, and moving towards the goal together, and all of this can start with sharing.”
Before starting work every morning, Catherine Huang always sets aside half an hour to read, focusing particularly on books related to business management and leadership. Simultaneously, she browses international sustainability information, including how major global corporations are reducing carbon emissions and how these influential figures leverage their impact to make the world a better place. Some suitable books even become the selections for the company executives’ book club:
“For our company’s section chiefs and above, they are required to read four to eight books a year, with a quarterly book club meeting. Recently, I have a particular interest in researching content related to supply chain wars and dark data topics. Combining this with sustainability trends, contemplating economic issues, and the progress of relevant laws in various countries, I can indeed sense some clues about how the world operates. Thinking about sustainability under such circumstances makes me feel even more that what I am doing is meaningful.”
Catherine Huang also jokingly mentioned her enthusiasm for sharing reading notes on social media. Sometimes, she posts them in friend groups. Friends tease her, saying they often get awakened early by her messages but still feel compelled to check out what she wrote. “To some extent, it serves as a convenient summary, helping everyone save reading time!”
Catherine Huang: When It Comes to Sustainable Transformation, Everything Must Start with People
Before formally embarking on the sustainable transformation in 2021, Victor Taichung had already obtained international certifications such as ISO 14064 for greenhouse gas inventory and ISO 50001 for energy management systems. However, Catherine Huang was not content with this and introduced the new concept of “Twin Transformation” from TDEA, combining zero-carbon transformation with digital transformation, leading Victor Taichung to a fundamental transformation.
Catherine Huang emphasizes that regardless of any transformation, building a team and collecting data are the two most important things to prioritize. If the internal dynamics of a company are rigid, and people are unwilling to step out of their comfort zones to make changes, the process of promoting transformation will face many obstacles. For example, in the manufacturing industry, data has traditionally been kept on paper, and not digitized, presenting a significant challenge. However, breaking through the deadlock is necessary, so everything must start with the basics, progressing step by step.
“In other words, whether it’s building a team or collecting data, everything has to start with ‘people.’ At that time, I organized a discussion within the company, inviting Lai-ju Chen, president of New Generation College, to speak. Besides the middle and high-level executives, I also had the Chairman participate throughout. The purpose of doing so was to let everyone know that this ‘Twin Transformation’ is something we are serious about.”
From that point onward, Victor Taichung officially established a sustainability committee, and Catherine Huang took on the responsibility of Sustainability Director. Upholding the belief that “people” come first, she selected personnel from each department as seed members for training and promoted the activities of environmental protection ambassadors, encouraging employees to proactively propose improvement solutions for sustainability. If the proposed solutions prove effective after implementation, rewards are given to the proposers. Regular audits are also conducted on each department, establishing a complete mechanism from top to bottom.
Catherine Huang, who enjoys playing the role of a sharer and promoter, also encourages the involvement of the supply chain in sustainable transformation. “For some suppliers, if they are relatively small and have limited resources, they may not be willing to actively invest in transformation if they don’t see benefits in the short term.” To increase the willingness to transform, Catherine Huang assists suppliers in obtaining international certifications, applying for subsidies to replace old machinery, and sharing ESG-related information at regular quality meetings to discuss more energy-saving and carbon-reducing practices. Over time, suppliers gradually realize the importance of sustainable transformation and join the sustainable race.
Reflecting on the transformation journey since 2021, Catherine Huang highlights the most significant benefit as the enhancement of the brand image. “We started early in the industry, so there are often groups visiting the company. Schools or businesses also invite us to give lectures and share experiences inside and outside the company. Besides doing something meaningful with a group of people for the environment and society, the brand image of the company is greatly improved as well.”
TDEA’s “Digital Transformation Train” Accompanies Sustainable Transformation
“Looking back on the important goal of TDEA when it was established, it was to enable the second or third generation of family businesses to promote transformation within the company. I am touched and grateful for everyone’s joint efforts. With the collaboration of all parties, we are holding hands on the track of sustainability,” says Catherine Huang, discussing the initial purpose of TDEA and the journey it has taken. Members from various industries and family businesses across Taiwan integrate resources in the path of collaborative learning, preparing for future trends.
Every two months, TDEA organizes the “Digital Transformation Train,” selecting exemplary companies that have successfully transformed. Chairperson Catherine Huang leads the team on visits for in-depth exchanges with these enterprises, understanding the problems they may encounter during the transformation process and how business leaders handle them:
“TDEA also invites a team of consultants, including President Lai-ju Chen and other experts with different specialties, to form an advisory team. They teach and accompany the new generation of successors to grow. These consultants are mostly retired executives with not only rich experience but also a sense of mission, providing strong support for the new generation of entrepreneurs facing transformation challenges.”
Additionally, there is usually limited deep interaction between different industries. TDEA serves as a platform for cross-industry exchanges, allowing everyone to spark different ideas at any time. “Sometimes, in a few words of interaction, new business models and many meaningful things come out,” says Catherine Huang. Since becoming the Chairperson of TDEA last year, she regularly organizes member visits to different companies, such as Yihcheng Factory, Juluen Enterprise, See Box Corporation, Promate Electronics, Bestwood, Image Model, iKala, and Dcard.
“TDEA also occasionally holds ‘Master Lectures.’ We recently invited the General Manager of Trend Micro, Bob Hung, to share on the topic of information security. It must be said that the annual event ‘Future Grand Convergence,’ created by the TDEA team, connects more than thirty second-generation communities in Taiwan, focusing on sustainable and transformation-related topics. We try our best to let everyone know that transformation is imperative and that we must bear the mission of sustainability on our shoulders.”
TDEA Becomes the Backing for Sustainable Transformation, Creating a Virtuous Cycle
“Due to the current international trends, the sustainability trend has already shifted from ESG risk management to accelerating the enhancement of corporate resilience and transformation adaptability. Everyone is now rushing to promote sustainable transformation,” says Catherine Huang, discussing the future prospects of TDEA. She believes that in the future, it is essential to demonstrate differentiation, showcasing the rich resources, uniqueness, and determination of TDEA.
As the Chairperson, she leads by example, continuously advocating for sustainability through personal speeches. “I spoke at nearly 20 events related to sustainability last year. In addition to sharing the experience of Victor Taichung, I included the experience of the family traveling to New Zealand in the presentation. Among them, the scene of witnessing the collapse of an iceberg was very shocking. Whenever I share this video in a speech, everyone can better understand sustainability and recognize the urgency of corporate transformation.”
The road to sustainable transformation is difficult but unavoidable. Catherine Huang firmly states that with the abundant domestic and international resources of TDEA, they will continue to promote sustainable transformation across industries in Taiwan. In the face of the transformation challenges of the new generation of successors, TDEA will be their backing:
“We started relatively early, with relatively rich resources, and smooth communication with government departments such as the Ministry of Digital Affairs. So, for entrepreneurs who are willing to transform, we can provide powerful assistance. From now on, we will continue to share more value with members and create more virtuous cycles!”
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