While working as System Engineer, The American Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as their European and Japanese counterparts, set a new standard which our products had to comply with in order to enter the market in Japan and increase our markets in the US and Europe. I was chosen to manage the international product certification process, lead a team of 3 in developing a new series of products and represent the company in supervising certification tests in the US and Japan.
As a new standard, there were few references to obtain the knowledge from, and no one in the company with prior experience to turn to. In addition, the project had to be completed quickly in order to be ready to participate in a large upcoming Japanese trial and supply advance order products to customers in the US.
First, I researched and learned all aspects of the new standard and planned how to design the software in accordance. Then, to make sure we will pass, I planned how to perform the necessary certification tests before flying abroad for the testing. To do this, I purchased $70,000 worth of equipment and software and created a work plan and schedule for each country. I negotiated the price of the certification tests with the labs in the US and, using the company’s Japanese representatives, in Japan as well.
After completing all the necessary development, pre-testing and the European tests, we signed contracts with the authorized labs in the US and Japan, priced at over $120,000. I sent equipment to both countries, managing relations with customs to make sure my equipment reaches the labs on time, and made the necessary travel arrangements.
I traveled to the US for 10 days where I worked with Mr. McMillan, the Manager of RF testing at MET Labs. While in testing, one of our products failed some of the tests, and the lab blamed our equipment. I discovered it was actually their equipment that was faulty and proved this to Mr. McMillan. We passed the tests and I convinced the labs not to charge us another few thousand dollars for the extra testing time.
After returning from the US, I spent three 14-hour workdays preparing the necessary adjustments for the Japanese standard, and then flew off for a week of testing in Japan. I had very limited time because the lab only had a few days open for us. I needed to get the testing done in time to participate in the upcoming trial. Speaking through my English-Japanese translator I presented the schedule and prioritized tasks for my Japanese team of 3, as well as 3 lab personnel. I also convinced the lab manager to eliminate the duplicate tests, saving us 2 days, and allowing us to finish all the necessary tests for all the products.
Our products passed all the required certification tests in the US and Japan. This allowed us to reach out to new customers and expand our markets in the US and Europe and enter the Japanese market and expand our global market by an estimated 100%.
As a result of this experience I learned how to overcome obstacles such as geographical distance, language barriers, unfamiliar technologies and tight timelines. I also developed more confidence in my abilities after seeing that combining my engineering, business and leadership skills with hard work impacted my company’s market share.