Working to Increase R&D Momentum and Foster World-class Talent to Elevate an OEM-based Taiwan Economic Status
/ Pierre Chen / Founder and Chairman of YAGEO Corporation
YAGEO Corporation’s founding chairman Pierre Chen knows how to lead the company with some 30,000 employees in 25 countries to achieve operational effectiveness and make the company not only the No. 1 passives maker in Taiwan, but one of the top three global suppliers of passive components, too. He has leveraged a strong business acumen and extraordinary managerial skills to promote technological applicability and development and benefit the world immensely.
Diversity in Curriculum and Learning Environment Widens an Entrepreneur’s Horizons
The founder and chairman of YAGEO Corporation Pierre Chen is an NCKU alumnus who received a bachelor’s degree in engineering science (Class of 1980). As he recalls, the Dept. of Engineering Science has started to proffer an interdisciplinary education that incorporates disciplines such as electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, information technology and even management in hopes of fostering cross-disciplinary talent since its inception 56 years ago. Looking back, Pierre Chen feels thankful to his alma mater for the solid training curriculum that proves to be the cornerstone for his world-class corporation. “The Dept. of Engineering Science has shaped the way I see things and is a tremendous asset to the university,” said Pierre Chen proudly.
The diverse curriculum created by NCKU helps to develop students’ humanistic perspectives and equip them with other domains of expertise. Pierre Chen is strongly convinced that college education is the key to building one’s character. He counts himself very lucky to receive a well-rounded college education and attributes his success as an entrepreneur and a corporate leader who knows how to make informed decisions to the broad spectrum of knowledge and disciplines proffered by NCKU. Over the years, he has recruited a group of experts who also graduated from NCKU, such as Vice President Chun-Te Lee and the senior marketing manager Ching-Li Hu, to rely on their expertise in resources engineering and chemical engineering. Clearly Pierre Chen places his trust in his junior alumni.
Over the past forty-plus years, Pierre Chen has led YAGEO Corporation to develop a broad array of passive components. Products such as R-chips, multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs), and tantalum electrolytic capacitors are currently occupying a large market share. Indeed R-chips and tantalum electrolytic capacitors are sold better than any other competitors, while MLCCs are ranked No. 3 globally. These passive components are widely used in mobile phones, tablet computers, computers, and cars, helping to shape the development of the technology sector.
The Chair of the Dept. of Engineering Science Yu-Cheng Lin describes Pierre Chen as an entrepreneur with insights and courage to take risks. Under his stewardship, YAGEO Corporation started a series of acquisitions: an acquisition of the ceramics and magnetics materials department under Philips in 2000, followed by acquisitions of two U.S.-based publicly traded companies: Pulse Electronics in 2018 and KEMET in 2020. With these bold acquisitions, YAGEO finally entered the high-end passives maker market and is recognized as the king of tech acquisitions. Pierre Chen was once ranked No. 2 among the top 100 Taiwanese entrepreneurs by Harvard Business Review and honored by NCKU as a distinguished alumnus for his outstanding contributions.
Collaborating with NCKU to Foster World-class Talent
Over the years of working with world-class tech brands, Pierre Chen has come to realize that Taiwan, as a manufacturing hub, has faced the predicament that an OEM manufacturer often faces. The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, once remarked that Tesla uses the components manufactured in Taiwan to make products that cannot be made by Taiwan’s tech industry.” This blunt comment has pointed out a severe lack of interdisciplinary experts and marketing abilities in Taiwan. To address the problem, Pierre Chen decided to return to Taiwan to foster talent as he has believed that the key to the transformation of industries lies in “taking action to enhance Taiwan’s talent competitiveness and improve Taiwan’s economic status in the long run.”
To achieve that end, Pierre Chen decided to set up a global R&D center and a high-end production base in Kaohsiung in 2019 in response to the government’s investment program. This has created approximately 2,900 jobs. In 2020, an R&D center was co-established with NCKU in hopes of creating a new paradigm for academia-industrial collaboration and developing world-class talent that is equipped with a domain of expertise as well as comprehensive knowledge.
As pointed out by Pierre Chen, passives makers depend heavily on a group of engineers specialized in the use and development of materials, as well as in physics, chemistry, and chemical engineering to accumulate data and experience. To achieve mutual prosperity, he has collaborated with his alma mater in some research projects in which NCKU’s professors and students conduct research studies on passive component materials and render scientific results for YAGEO Corporation to manufacture on its assembly line. Not only is the combination of innovation and manufacturing accelerated, but many more future managers have been fostered with the help of NCKU, a university known to have a comprehensive curriculum. All this helps to sharpen Taiwan’s competitive edge in the high-end electronics industry globally.
As a successful entrepreneur, Pierre Chen has also put the company’s social responsibility on the top of the corporate agenda over the years. He seeks comfort and solace in music and art in order to find balance in the high-pressure tech industry. An avid art collector, he also serves as an advisor to Tate Modern. He was quoted as saying that “art is part of everyday life, and life is built on art.” When he became keenly aware of how the tech industry sapped the energy of Taiwan’s society, he decided to set up the YAGEO Foundation in 1999 in hopes that the Foundation would serve as the platform between western and Chinese art while facilitating a vigorous exchange of ideas between artists domestically and overseas and rendering financial support to Taiwanese artists to increase their visibility in the global arena. In a conscious effort to help Taiwanese people better appreciate art, the tech tycoon Pierre Chen is leading Taiwan toward a more promising future. (Photo credit: Pierre Chen)
Honors and Achievements ｜
Department of Engineering Science, Class of 1980
・YAGEO Corporation was founded in 1977.
・YAGEO Corporation was listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 1993.
・The YAGEO Foundation was founded in 1999.
・The passive components department under Philips was acquired in 2000.
・Two U.S.-based companies: Pulse Electronics and BrightKing were acquired in 2018.
・In response to the government’s investment plan that touts overseas entrepreneurs to invest in Taiwan, Chairman Chen set up a global R&D center and a high-end production base in Kaohsiung in 2019.
・A U.S.-based corporation: KEMET was acquired in 2020. Chairman Chen was awarded a number of M&A Awards: Annual Outstanding M&A Award, the Most Influential M&A Award, and the Best Multinational M&A Award by MAPECT Taiwan. He has also been selected by Harvard Business Review as No. 2 among the top 100 CEOs. The YAGEO-NCKU R&D Center was founded in the same year.
・YAGEO Corporation receives twA+ with a stable prospect from Taiwan Ratings in March 2021, making it the only passives maker that has been conferred an Investment Grade Rank worldwide.
・Pierre Chen serves as an advisor to Tate Modern and a member to the Asian Arts Collection Committee.
Pierre Chen / Department of Engineering Science, Class of 1980