Foxconn replaces chief of iPhone assembly business after tumultuous year
Key Apple Inc. manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group has appointed a new boss for its iPhone assembly business after a tumultuous year in China, highlighting the company’s efforts to ready a new generation of leaders to help it navigate a post-Covid world.
Michael Chiang was first identified in his new role at Taiwan-based Foxconn’s annual year-end party on Sunday, succeeding longtime leader Wang Charng-yang as head of the division responsible for iPhone assembly. Chiang was recently promoted to chief of the A business group as Wang steps back to focus on a role on the board, according to people familiar with the matter.
The appointment is part of efforts by Chairman Young Liu of Foxconn’s flagship unit Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. to elevate younger executives to maintain the company’s supply chain leadership in the face of growing competition from Chinese contenders. Foxconn may also face new rivals in India as Apple seeks to further diversify its production footprint following pandemic-related supply snarls and draconian restrictions that wrought havoc on device output in China.
Chiang is a longtime Foxconn manager who has helped the company meet the high standards Apple requires, according to one of the people, who asked not to be named discussing internal matters. Wang, who was appointed to Hon Hai’s board in the summer of 2022, remains a director and his departure from the iPhone operations role isn’t connected to the Covid-related output disruptions Foxconn suffered last year, the people said.
Chiang has a master’s degree in human resources development from California’s Claremont Graduate University and he joined Foxconn in 1999, according to a wide-ranging interview he did with an insurance broker company that was posted online in June 2021.
When Foxconn encountered unprecedented worker unrest at its main iPhone campus in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou late last year, Chiang played a pivotal role in communicating with the local government and making sure Apple’s demands would be satisfied, one of the people said.
The appointment highlights Foxconn’s efforts in recent years to foster a younger cohort of executives to help the company navigate prolonged tensions between Washington and Beijing, diversify its manufacturing bases outside of China, and fend off Chinese challengers including Luxshare Precision Industry Co.
In the 2021 interview, Chiang said he had gone to India three times to help Foxconn build its manufacturing presence in the country.
“The biggest challenge we face in India is cultural shock including its caste system. It’s brand new to us,” Chiang said.
Chiang also divulged some details of the iPhone assembly process in the interview.
“For Chinese Android phones, we only have to assign 100 workers per production line, but we need 1,200 for the iPhone,” Chiang said, underlining Apple’s exacting demands.
Liu took over from Foxconn founder Terry Gou and became Hon Hai chairman in 2019. Since then, he has been filling key positions with younger employees by both recruiting seasoned hands externally and promoting staff internally, with Chiang being the most high-profile appointment he has made so far.
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