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CipherLab CEO Steven Liau on the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Steven Liau graduated from NTHU's Department of Nuclear Engineering in 1984, and in 1988 he co-founded CipherLab with some of his classmates. Right from the start Liau set his sights on the global market. With its principle markets in Europe and North America, today CipherLab is a world leader in automated identification and data capture (AIDC) solutions for a wide range of industries. While some may see this as an indication of his farsightedness and perseverance, Liau, now the chairman and CEO of CipherLab, states that Taiwan is just too small, making internationalization all but inevitable.
 
CipherLab is an original brand manufacturer (OBM) with sales in over 70 countries. Amongst CipherLab's leading customers are the Bayer pharmaceutical company in Germany, the Fiat automobile in Italy, the Shiseido cosmetics in Japan, the Munich Airport in Germany, and the Bangkok Airport in Thailand. After struggling with the choice of operating as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) or an OBM, relying on his entrepreneurial spirit and his solid experience, Liau decided to launch the CipherLab brand worldwide.
 
"Actually, many of my entrepreneurial skills were picked up unconsciously during my studies at NTHU," recalls Liau. Technology is the foundation of enterprise, and language skills are a passport to the world—these are some of the key skills NTHU students acquire from amongst NTHU's extensive learning resources. Liau smilingly continues, "We used to help our teacher with design cases he was working on, including a barcode reader. We had to read a lot of books in the original English; of course our English wasn’t very good, but with perseverance we improved a lot." Liau is a shining example of how perseverance pays off.
 
Liau acquired the remainder of his entrepreneurial skills after graduating from NTHU. When he returned to Taiwan after completing his master's degree in the United States, he had 14 job offers to choose from. Of these he chose the lowest paying one, simply because it provided him with the opportunity to learn something new. While working at his first job he also gained a lot of valuable experience through becoming acquainted with business leaders and their respective management philosophies.
 
As for offering advice to those who are thinking to follow in his footsteps, Liau points out that today the flow of information is highly developed and the conditions for starting an enterprise have improved; he also cautions that since things are changing so quickly, past experience is not necessarily applicable in the present. Pointing out that Taiwan's entrepreneurial environment is much better than in the past, Liau encourages NTHU students to find something the world is lacking or something that can be improved, and then courageously find a way to realize their dream.
 
Liau also points out the importance of a global perspective and international competitiveness for students in Taiwan. Finally, Liau also emphasized the importance of physical fitness, adding with a smile, "For those running a successful enterprise, in the first 30 years of life you depend on your physical strength; after 30 you depend on your professional ability; and after 40 you depend on your experience."
 
As a student at NTHU, Liau began accumulating the intellectual capital required for an entrepreneur. After establishing CipherLab, instead of settling into his position as an engineer, he actively developed the company's operations with the result that CipherLab is now a well-known brand throughout the world. With his determination and courage, Liau is an excellent role model for today's NTHU students.
 
Steven Liau is a 1984 graduate of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and CEO of CipherLab.

Steven Liau is a 1984 graduate of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and CEO of CipherLab.

Steven Liau with CipherLab employees.

Steven Liau with CipherLab employees.

Steven Liau (third from right) with classmates at NTHU.

Steven Liau (third from right) with classmates at NTHU.

 

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