Most business leaders know that the road to success seldom runs straight. Norsat International’s Aimee Chan is one of them. In 2006, when she took over as president and CEO of Norsat—which provides technology to transmit data, audio and video in remote and challenging applications—the firm was in dire straits, financially and operationally. Chan, who had been VP of operations for the previous two years, knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back on the right path, but she welcomed the challenge. She came up with a big, fat, audacious plan to put the company where she figured it ought to be.
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Priority 1: stop chasing giant contracts Norsat was unlikely to win; instead, focus on stimulating those sales that it excelled at.
Priority 2: communicate the vision to staff and get them excited about the changes.
Priority 3: stabilize Norsat’s cash position.
As Chan chipped away at these tasks, the firm’s performance gradually started to turn around. Sales increased, staff became energized and the balance sheet returned to health. The resurgence reached its apex in 2011, when the company acquired Sinclair Technologies, a leading supplier of antennas and RF products. Today, Norsat’s revenue is triple what it was when Chan took over.
“At one point, I had to sell my car to ensure we made payroll,” says Chan. “But looking back, I’m really glad I took on the challenge.”