SourceToday: What are your top priorities in your new role as Global President of Avnet’s Core Distribution Business?
Gallagher: We are going to be maniacally focused on service to our suppliers and our customers--and that is going to happen through our employees. You know Avnet has such a strong foundation in our people, and in our culture, and in our values. These are the primary reasons that I accepted this role because I knew that we are the best in the business at providing service to our customers.
I am spending a lot of time traveling, listening to and engaging with our suppliers and gaining a deeper understanding of their needs. We see ourselves in the marketplace as a trusted extension of our suppliers and so I want to understand the high-growth technologies they want us to promote, make sure that they are aware of how we can support them in all areas of the world through our global footprint, and to provide them with everything they need to be successful.
Downstream I am going to be spending a lot of time with our customers, developing a better understanding of how we can help them get to market faster through our design and manufacturing resources. The distribution business is so dynamic and complex and we need to keep things smooth and easy for our customers.
SourceToday: You noted in a recent interview that “FAEs [field application engineers] are expensive,” which is the challenge for all tech companies – how to get a return on tech support and software development. Can you talk about Avnet’s strategy today when it comes to customer support and your thoughts for how it needs to evolve in the future?
Gallagher: We are absolutely committed to and investing in our FAEs. We are always going to have customers who need a higher touch, higher value solution. I am proud to say that we have in excess of over 1,000 technically certified electrical engineers servicing our suppliers and customers. In order to effectively reach a broader community, we are expanding our reach through design communities like hackster.io and element14, which has 430K members in 36 countries--two acquisitions we made in the past year.
We’re building out what we call the “Avnet Connected Ecosystem,” [see graphic], which is designed to help our customers get the support they need at different points in the design process, whether they are looking to just learn some basic technical information, start a company, go into mass production—and everything in between.
SourceToday: In the near future, Avnet is going to be launching something called “Hardware Studio,” which will be a collaborative effort with Dragon Innovation, and Kickstarter. Where will it fit in your ecosystem?
Gallagher: Hardware Studio will help engineers take their designs to manufacturing, by scrubbing the BOM [bill of materials], providing budgetary pricing, and recommending alternative components when appropriate. That’s because there is nothing worse than specifying a component that it turns out the supply chain can’t support. You’ll hear more on Hardware Studio when we make a big announcement in September.
SourceToday: Do you have a mantra or phrase that guides you in your professional life?
Gallagher: “The bigger you get the smaller you need to act.” It is so true when you work for the world’s largest electronics distributor. We need to leverage our size and scale and at the same time act local and stay as close to our customers as possible. We do it that by empowering all of our employees to do what’s needed to put the customer first.