Jan 27, 2022

Meet Our People and Partners / Feature Story


Navigating Changes and Leading with Empathy in North America

Megan Myungwon Lee became Chairwoman and CEO of Panasonic North America in October 2021. She has been an instrumental leader through significant changes while also championing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Here are Megan's thoughts on her role and the business after her first 100 days.

A thriving and diverse business

Panasonic Corporation of North America comprises a diverse set of businesses, spanning several established and emerging industries, ranging from electric vehicle (EV) batteries to avionics to automotive to consumer lifestyle products. What is particularly exciting about our region is that we have been able to leverage Panasonic's rich, 100-year legacy of innovation to position ourselves at the forefront of several pivotal technology revolutions. One that garners a lot of attention is the work being done by the Panasonic Energy Company and our partnership with Tesla at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. As one of our largest businesses in the region, producing EV batteries has enabled tremendous growth and is supporting a more environmentally sustainable future.

Beyond our work in the EV space there are a lot of reasons to be bullish on Panasonic North America. In the last 10 years alone, we've continued to deliver leading consumer products while simultaneously expanding our B2B portfolio and operational capabilities by way of strategic acquisitions. One of the latest acquisitions is in the supply chain space with our purchase of Blue Yonder. As a result of these strong partnerships and timely acquisitions, we've been able to realize double-digit revenue growth while more than doubling our employee base.

While there's lots to be excited about here in North America, we certainly share many of the same pressures as our colleagues around the globe, including chip shortages and supply chain constraints brought on by the pandemic. And while many of these challenges are well beyond our control, there's always an opportunity to support our business and strategy execution in North America by remaining transparent with employees and customers, encouraging idea sharing across the enterprise, and embracing challenges as opportunities to grow as an organization.

Photo: Megan Myungwon Lee, Chairwoman and CEO of Panasonic North America

Megan emphasizes the importance of empathy in leadership

Inspiration and empathy are keys to performance

It probably comes as no surprise that our company is faced with what many have coined the "The Great Resignation". We understand that there is no quick fix for what is happening in today's high-churn labor market, which is why we are really using this time to engage in much-needed conversations with employees. Maintaining an open dialogue about how they are coping with challenges, while establishing programs that support their professional development and define career pathing opportunities, are two critical ways we can shape our work environment together and make sure we are providing meaningful, sustainable careers for the long-term.

We recognize the importance of employee well-being and realize that the pandemic has accelerated inevitable shifts in work styles and preferences. We also acknowledge that burnout is real, which is why even prior to the pandemic, we've been proud to offer versions of flexible work arrangements available through various programs.

Whether it's remote or in-person work, what is most important is supporting our long-standing culture of accountability and trust, so that performance expectations are consistent across the board. And while the current shifts in work arrangements have been welcomed by many, we won't lose sight of our responsibility to ensure that employees are supported and part of the team wherever they are.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are business critical

Supporting diversity, equity, and inclusivity is the way we do business here within PNA. It's the way we unlock innovation and unearth new opportunities. I shared this in my first Town Hall meeting as CEO in October, and it's something I truly believe. To date, we have done some great foundational work in our organization to introduce training, provide support to employee-led resource groups, and establish a framework for executive and employee collaboration. As we move forward, the work we've done is poised to shape the ways we acquire talent, the ways we source services, and the partnerships we form.

The first Panasonic female regional CEO

Firstly, I do feel very humbled to be entrusted with this responsibility. Secondly, while it's unique to be the first to do something, it's not something I spend much time thinking about. I have worked hard throughout my 30-plus-year career at Panasonic and have built much of it on the value I have been able to generate as part of some great teams. No matter who you are, we all have different skills and ideas to bring to the table. As CEO, it's incumbent upon me to never forget that about myself and every one of my team members as we work together to solve problems and identify opportunities.

So far, expanding my understanding of all our unique businesses has been the most challenging and, at the same time, the most rewarding part of this new role. It's a privilege for me to be able to have this opportunity to make an impact and learn at this stage in my career. I attribute so many of the experiences I have had at Panasonic to my commitment to life-long learning and curiosity. If I can lead by example in any way as CEO, it's in those two areas.

I hope you'll join me!

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