Our efforts must center on the customer
The Eastern European region of thyssenkrupp Materials Services has been operating in a new line-up since early February 2020. Jörg Heiles leads the region, which includes Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Turkey. The region is part of the thyssenkrupp Materials Services Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific Operating Unit. We asked the new leader about his regional plans for Eastern Europe and his first experiences in the new position.
You have a vast experience with thyssenkrupp since you have been working for the company for 18 years. What is the biggest challenge in your new position and what are your first experiences in it?
For me it’s a bit like coming home to the MEE region. Between 2012 and 2017, I was responsible for managing the controlling tasks of Eastern Europe. During this period I could learn about the culture, business processes of the countries in the region and, last but not least, some of the colleagues working here. One of the most important experiences of this period was to understand that the work of all employees is equally important to the successful operation of the company, and that respect for each other’s work is of key importance. It is a great honor for me to be the leader of the Eastern European region and - together with the leaders of the countries of the region – to transform our company into a strong service company from its former material distributor role.
What is the market strategy for the Eastern European region? What are your major goals in Eastern Europe?
The cornerstone of the Eastern European market strategy is to improve and optimize our regional footprint. This means, on the one hand, the successful operation of each member company and, on the other hand, the successful cooperation of member companies in order to be able to meet the needs of our customers as much as possible, both in terms of materials and related services. I see significant growth potential in the Eastern European market, which we are able to turn cost-effectively to our advantage with our highly trained and agile colleagues. Our presence, our product and service portfolio and our employees set us apart from our competitors. Our customers must be at the heart of all our activities. Solutions and knowledge are available in all countries of the region to bring us even closer to our customers, further strengthening our customer-focused operations. Our success is also determined by the fact that we develop digitalization processes and our business development in close harmony with each other.
Due to the Coronavirus we expect we return to a "new normal" life. What are your most important advices as for adapting ourselves to the "new normal"? What competencies shall we need in "surviving" the new normal world?
Digital solutions that have worked well in our daily lives and at work due to the virus will remain in the future. I am thinking here, for example, of working in the home office, which has been proved to be a real alternative to our previous workstyle in a very short time. In the new normal world it is important to build on the flexibility, trust and transparency we have experienced and practiced in recent months. Our most important capability at the corporate level should be to continue to notice the real needs of our customers and provide them with the right solutions even in the most challenging times.
People say that in every crisis there is an opportunity. What are the most important lessons we could learn from the Coronavirus-situation?
When I worked in China, I learned that the two characters used to express the crisis also mean danger and opportunity. In the current situation, I understood what all this means: we have learned that we really live in a world full of uncertain factors and change. The Coronavirus is just one example of extreme change. This means that one of the most important abilities in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world is to keep our thinking flexible, thus ready for change. If we manage to accept that continuous change is an unavoidable part of the new normal world, we will no longer see it as a threat, but as an opportunity. The Coronavirus period has confirmed how important a safe environment is. For me this means primarily my family and my colleagues supporting me even in the most challenging times.