Representatives from Microwave Journal and MWJ China visited the headquarters of Pivotone Communications Technologies, Inc in Wuxi, China in late July. MWJ Publisher Carl Sheffres, Chief Editor David Vye, MWJ China Publisher Adonis Mak and MWJ China Editor Katie Huang were met with a warm welcome in record-breaking heat and introduced to some very cool and innovative products and technologies. In this interview, Founder, President and CEO Dr. Guochun (GC) Liang shares some insight on his unique approach to business.
MWJ: GC, you have an impressive track record as a global entrepreneur in the Communications industry, with particular focus on the RF/microwave sector. Your endeavors brought you from Shanghai to the San Francisco Bay Area and back to your roots in Wuxi. Please describe your background both in China and in the US.
GC: Well, I received my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in China prior to my Ph.D. program in Berkeley. All degrees centered on RF/Microwave techniques, or rather wireless communication components, modules and systems. I started to work on digital RF phase shifters for array antennas as early as 1982. Then, worked with other RF components such as power amplifiers, broadband LNAs and programmable attenuators as early as 1985 when wireless systems were in their infancy. I went to Berkeley in 1986 for my Ph.D. where I actively participated in the development of new numerical simulation techniques, new microwave devices, new integrated circuit techniques, new ultra-fast and sensitive sensing devices and superconducting devices. All that technical knowledge and experience excited me so much and stimulated me so vividly. In aspiring to become a great scientist, my focus was on publishing a lot of technical papers, writing chapters of technical handbooks, writing patents and being very active in the IEEE/MTT society. This and other IEEE societies have actively propelled the rapid growth of the wireless industry.
These efforts served as a strong foundation for me to become an entrepreneur in the wireless industry. I have found this industry to be a dynamic and creative place to work. Early on, my objective was to become a combination of a technical expert and a good business person. This is very difficult sometimes. The Bay area is a great place for fulfillment of such a mission, dream and objective. People are full of passion and energy to find better solutions for the industry.
While working with various companies, on various projects, I developed a series of practical, technical solutions and devices: ultra-low phase noise oscillator and devices, ultra-fast sampling circuits with superconductor techniques and very low loss and sharp transition RF and microwave devices for wireless equipment. I also established a closed-form, hot electron breakdown model to analyze the semiconductor breakdown issues which support fast and compact memory devices. I then developed a very practical superconductor engineering model which serves as a bridge from the complex physical phenomena to the simple engineering model, which also led to the practical simulation analysis and design of superconductor microwave properties with more conventional numerical tools which allow the development of a list of practical devices and circuits. After years of experience in those RF and microwave areas, I still enjoy digging deep into technical issues.
Eleven years ago, I went back to China to work on very conventional technology; cavity filters, dielectric filters and the like. I worked with associates to organize talented people to develop good practical products. Currently, we have developed a very effective approach to realize ultra-low PIM products at competitive prices for filters, duplexers, multiplexers, combiners, TMAs and front ends, as well as RRH/ RRU products. We have developed compact TE/TM/Mixed mode/ Dual mode dielectric devices, achieving great performance in insertion loss, mixed band operation, with sharp transitions, low IMD and wide spurious-free bands. Our compact low PIM duplexers and multiplexers are also very suitable for compact multiband antennas. In addition, we have developed a technique to design multiplexers with simultaneous analysis.
In the microwave area, we have developed a series of products from 6 to 50 GHz: filters, duplexers, multiplexers, OMTs and couplers. We also make those devices with embedded isolators. Miniature duplexers find a wide application for point-to-point systems. Pivotone is facing the industry challenges and meeting the demand for high performance RF and microwave devices.
MWJ: You have aunique philosophy on life and on business. Could you explain this philosophy, how it drove you to launch Pivotone and how it guides your management of the company?
GC: The name “PIVOTONE” consists of three words. The first is PIVOT - meaning critical and leverage. TONE, meaning communication, the sound, the message, and of course the meaning of ONE is more than obvious. Pivotone means a first-class, critical communication company. The first three letters (“P”, “I” and “V”), stand for Professionalism, Integrity, and Vision. These three letters form the core values of the company. Pivotone believes “Vision Drives the Future”. If you want to realize a dream, you have to have a dream first. Professionalism propels the future. It takes a professional team, an idea, a good working approach, methodology and knowledgeable and passionate partners to make a dream come true. Integrity realizes the future. This is very important, especially in a money-driven world. So we believe in aligning the company dream with the company mission and the employee mission. We believe in being socially responsible, protecting the environment, and providing for employee training, health and safety. And all these activities will help employees to really think, feel, enjoy and treat the company as their home or second home. We foster an atmosphere where employees can achieve their goals, aligning their professional, intellectual and financial interests with company growth. We pay so much attention to the training, both in-house and external programs, making sure all the team members can achieve their potential. The impact is, of course, very significant.
The Chinese name of PIVOTONE is Bei Fu De, three Chinese words. “Bei”means money and treasure. “Fu” means to incubate, to be responsible and to have a good reputation; “De” means traditional value or merit. So the complete explanation for the name PIVOTONE is that: a group of people who have merit take responsibility and are accountable. They form a team with a clear objective or mission. They formulate this mission with vision. They take a professional approach with integrity. They will then become a first-class company in the telecommunication industry.
Our team fully believes that and the Pivotone name itself is the collection of key elements for us to build a successful company.
MWJ: Please describe your 5-year vision for Pivotone. What are the challenges that lay ahead and how will you continue to grow the company so rapidly in the face of these challenges?
GC: The 5-year vision of the company is to become a leading, creative, and everlasting company in telecommunication industry. We will provide our customers with advanced, high-performance yet reasonable cost devices, modules and subsystems.
I think a few challenges include; continuing the technical excellence, hiring good, high-performance people, maintaining high levels of training internally to meet the new technical and application challenges, keeping corporate core values and keeping a long-term oriented strategy. Making reliable product for the customer also has its challenges when the price pressure becomes greater and greater but this has always been the key to success in our industry.
In Chinese “crisis” means opportunity and challenge also means opportunity. We think more challenges mean more opportunities, and more challenges mean more room to advance and to perfect. We are confident that we will do well in the industry and will continue to provide good service, good product and competitive pricing to our valuable customers. The “PIV” core values will be a strong energy and force to support our VIP, the valuable customer.