Michael Poon

Chief Information Officer

Michael is an exceptional executive with both a broad knowledge base, and the instincts required to lead through difficult situations. Never one to rest on his laurels, he has high expectations for himself and those he works with, which forces everyone to ‘raise their game’.

Amy Shat
Executive Vice President at Switchfly

At NEXTracker, CIO Michael Poon’s focus is to put Business System solutions in place that enable the company to continue its rapid growth. He has vast experience in software development, IT management and business systems implementation. Poon started his career as a mechanical engineer and then a software engineer in the semiconductor industry, worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, and became Finance Manager and CFO for some of the leading Studios in the film and videogame industry. Poon earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University.

Michael Poon’s NEXTracker Story

Chances are, if you’d walk into Michael Poon’s garage right now, you’d be greeted by a life-size replica robot. Which is not necessarily something you would expect from somebody whose job title is CIO. His job sounds more like staring at dry business requirement documents on computer screens.

But that’s not the kind of CIO Michael Poon is.

He is a mechanical engineer turned video game producer turned PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant turned financial manager in the entertainment industry. And now he’s CIO at NEXTracker with a special hobby. “Even though I’ve gone away from my engineering roots, all my passion at home is building. I build life-sized replica robots, I have 3D printers in my garage. The DIY maker movement is something that’s near and dear to me,” explains Poon. “How do we use technology to better the world? That’s why I got interested in renewables.”  

The other reason was that he wanted to create something lasting, a legacy. The machine part that Poon once designed and built as a mechanical engineer is a small part of a bigger machine running somewhere in Germany that no one will ever notice. Building videogames is really hard, but fleeting. “The thing you worked for three and a half years to build lasted a month, and no one really cares afterwards. It did nothing to better society,” says Poon.

Which is why NEXTracker’s vision was so appealing to him. What drives Poon is the idea of leapfrogging technology, to eventually enable developing countries to go from almost no energy generation to 100 percent renewables without ever having to use fossil fuels. And the challenge to scale a company, fast. That is something he did before, helping enterprises expand quickly.

And if there aren’t proper processes in place, he knows how easy it is for the company culture to shift in an unwanted direction. “I’m an engineer by trade, I look at everything as an engineering project,” says Poon. “I look at how we engineer the Business Systems to service the company that we’re trying to build. I try to look at how we’re going to engineer our solutions to actually meet the challenges that we have now and in the future.”

As far as hiring top talent goes, the trick in his eyes is to attract the right people for the right reasons: “Everyone assumes that everything is about money. It’s a huge part, but if you get the right people at the right time in their career, you’re able to get them to come along for the ride if you have the right mission.” Which is basically why he is in for the ride, too. Or in Poon’s words: “What drew me in was being part of something that has lasting power, and the executive staff that really believes they’re going to change the world. It’s hokey to say it, but that’s why I came.”

Michael is an exceptional executive with both a broad knowledge base, and the instincts required to lead through difficult situations. Never one to rest on his laurels, he has high expectations for himself and those he works with, which forces everyone to ‘raise their game’.

Amy Shat
Executive Vice President at Switchfly

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