Max Chan: Ardent Technologist Driving IT Innovation and Digital Transformation

Max Chan, CIO at Avnet
Max Chan, CIO, Avnet

There is a dire need for leaders who can navigate a complex IT environment, understand business requirements, employ emerging technologies, and deliver robust solutions to any challenge with their expertise. We, at CIO Look, came across one such leader, Max Chan, who can translate complex technical requirements into practical and actionable deliverables with his logical and pragmatic approach to IT.

Max, the Chief Information Officer of Avnet, oversees the resources and capabilities of the global IT team and ensures54 that the organization maintains an e volving yet robust IT environment that is optimized to provide the business a sharp competitive edge. He brings business-centric IT leadership to Avnet and his technical knowledge, responsiveness, and collaboration skills make him an invaluable member of the company.

Driving Customer Success

Avnet is a global technology distributor and solutions provider that has been at the forefront of technological innovation for 100 years. The company started as a radio component distributor and has adapted to wave after wave of technological change by expanding its capabilities to guide customers through the greatest technological advances of the last century.

Today, Avnet acts as an extension of its customers’ teams so they can leverage the company’s deep technical and supply chain expertise throughout the product lifecycle. This helps maximize their return on investment. It is seeing particularly high demand for its supply chain expertise today, as more companies rethink their supply chain strategies in the wake of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent supply shortages.

Max states that customers often come to Avnet to accelerate product design or streamline their supply chain, and they can plug in its capabilities to optimize their own. Avnet offers comprehensive design expertise and services for technology selection and prototype guidance to reduce complexity during the product design process.

“As products move into production, our customers find scale through flexible supply chain services and global infrastructure,” says Max. He further adds, “Support doesn’t end once a product is launched – we also extend product longevity throughout the entire lifecycle and can support with any redesign requirements.”

Generating Business Value Through Technology

As a leading global distributor, Avnet sits at the center of the technology value chain. It helps manufacturers bring their products to market – from medical devices to home automation solutions. Similarly, the IT team is central to everything the company does, ensuring that Avnet’s IT environment is equipped to efficiently and effectively4 meet customers’ and suppliers’ needs. The organization achieves this by focusing on several key priorities:

  • Providing the tools necessary for Avnet to seek out new business and grow existing ones
  • Maintaining a modernized environment that drives business efficiencies
  • Ensuring that customers’ and suppliers’ data and transactions are securely protected
  • Connecting emplo yees safely and securely across the world
  • Establishing an environment that is geared up to enable the business to scale and grow as needed

Powering Through Uncertain Times

Sharing his views on the impact of the pandemic, Max states that COVID-19 shifted the typical seasonal and cyclical trends in most industries and regions, which required Avnet to stay extremely nimble over the past year.

Avnet is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021, so it goes without saying that it has navigated through industry disruption in the industry before. Its experience and culture of collaboration enable the team to overcome many challenges over the past year.

Avnet’s #1 priority throughout the pandemic was maintaining the health and safety of its employees. Max says, “For my team, that meant that during the start of the pandemic our main priority was maintaining an environment that would enable our nearly 15,000 employees to work from home. We made sure our employees had the necessary equipment to re-establish business as usual as quickly as possible and have continued to provide support all along the way.

Max further mentions that his team played an important role in keeping Avnet’s employees connected to the company’s mission and aligned on its priorities. As countries started to lock down across the world, the team accelerated the deployment of Microsoft Teams, at the same time providing training and support to successfully pivot employees to a work from home model. This enabled Avnet to continue running its business as usual without missing a beat as employees were able to work just as effectively from home.

Transforming the Future

Throughout its history, Avnet has helped steer the electronics industry and technology sector through significant industrial disruption. And as a company that has been built through perseverance and driven by transformation, it understands what it takes to be successful, no matter the environment. Its team’s incredible resilience over the past year has only proven this further. Max mentions that Avnet is a part of the elite 1% of U.S. companies that have celebrated their centennial because technological transformation is deeply rooted in its DNA.

As Avnet enters its second century in business, it does so deeply-rooted in the same principle that has helped the company succeed in the preceding century. “We stay situated at the center of the technology value chain—constantly adjusting our position as this center morphs and grows with time,” says Max.

Avnet’s purpose is “guiding today’s ideas into tomorrow’s technology”. It truly takes that to heart by working with the world’s leading technology manufacturers to bring the latest technological advancements to their customers. Max confidently expresses that Avnet will continue to drive innovation forward, from its position at the center of the technology value chain, into the next century and beyond.

Challenge the Status Quo

In his advice to aspiring IT professionals, Max says, “The industry is always changing so remember that continuous learning is essential to your growth. Remain agile and commit yourself to forever being a student of technology. Be open-minded to the possibility of other ideas, solutions, and ways of approaching problems. Welcome differing opinions and challenges to the status quo in order to find the best outcome to the problems you’re facing.

He further adds, “Look at the unknown as an opportunity for growth, even in situations of ambiguity. Being a risktaker can pay off for you when you have the agile mindset to fail fast and learn from your mistakes so that you can come to solutions quicker.”