The new CFO of Hirschmann Automotive provides an insight into his initial impression of how the COVID-19 crisis is being handled and which company goals he is pursuing.
What has been your impression of the company so far?
I was able to speak with numerous colleagues during my first week of work and was impressed by the energy and passion with which tasks and projects are tackled in the respective company departments.
This drive was subsequently reflected in the presented work achievements and results.
It was also impressive to see that despite the current circumstances, employees are working hard on ensuring future sales in all the future-focused departments and projects to ensure that Hirschmann Automotive remains an innovative, stable, and reliable partner for our customers.
To what extent did your education and professional experience prepare you for this role?
A solid education – in my case, a university degree in business administration – certainly builds a foundation for a business management role. It has helped and continues to help me quickly understand economic interrelationships and implement what I have learned in practice. However, it is primarily the professional experience from my previous jobs that prepared me for this role by steering me through all areas of finance and other departments. In addition, the experience I have acquired through working with various automotive suppliers is naturally a huge benefit now. Many situations, problems, and challenges faced by Hirschmann Automotive on a daily basis are similar to issues I have encountered in the past, so I am able to contribute my knowledge here.
At the moment, it’s the experiences I faced in the last few years with companies in particularly challenging economic situations that now help me focus on the essential short-term issues. Luckily, at Hirschmann Automotive I am joining an experienced and skilled team whose members had already laid the foundations for handling the crisis promptly before my arrival.
What are your goals at Hirschmann Automotive?
Alongside and after overcoming the crisis in the quickest and most effective manner, my primary goal is to implement the company strategy and continue on the path of profitable growth laid out in recent years so that Hirschmann Automotive can remain an innovative, flexible, and strong partner for tailored product solutions. Our profitable growth is the company’s basis for remaining an attractive employer for new talent and experienced employees.
What are your key tools during the current crisis? On what do you rely?
Of paramount importance during the current situation are the safeguarding of liquidity in the Group, ensuring customer supply despite the crisis-dependent and unstable supply chains, retaining and protecting the employment of our experts, namely our employees, while also investing in future sales and expertise. We must find the right balance here.
In addition to collaborating with our financing partners, we are ensuring that we make the most of the government grants available at our respective international locations. Support models offered for the European sites in particular, such as short-time work in Austria, are key short-term supports to ensure the aforementioned points. That being said, we continue investing carefully yet continuously in our customer projects and future projects, which will ensure we keep a competitive edge in the future. However, we are also able to save in other areas such as infrastructure projects, which the management team believes don’t require implementation during the current situation since it can be economically justified to start these at a later date.
What are your three biggest achievements?
I joined Hirschmann Automotive in early May and consider it an achievement that I have been able to gain a good first overview of my agendas and prioritize the key issues. I’ll gladly answer the question about my three biggest achievements in a year’s time when we will hopefully be able to look at most COVID-19-related upheavals in the rear-view mirror.
Which five personal characteristics describe you best?
Determined, persistent, challenging yet affable, and always open to good, economically viable ideas and suggestions.