«We managers must do more to strengthen company culture»
How would you define good leadership today?
I have had the best results in situations where a team of executives agree on a strategy and then follow it resolutely. Good leadership brings qualified people together, conducts a meaningful, goal-oriented debate and facilitates implementation, keeping an eye on results. We managers must do more to strengthen company culture and values. Our own actions and that of the management team set the standard. Empathy, interest, and a portion of modesty are important in dealing with employees without losing authenticity. Especially the younger generations want a collegial leadership style.
You belong to the 31% of CEOs of the largest Swiss employers who were recruited externally for this position. Which aspects of your external viewpoint were particularly valuable, and which presented a challenge for your onboarding phase?
Coming from outside, I was expected to learn the ropes unbiased from the ground up. The sheer volume of information forced me to abstract so that I could uncover the success factors of various activities. Having seen diverse business models and industries was very helpful for me. It was clear that good machines alone were not enough for success. Access to sales channels, digital add-on services or a comprehensive sales organization are just as important. Knowing this, I began to set focal points. It was helpful to have a suitable sparring partner in the person of the supervisory board president. The conflict between the old and the new was therefore manageable.
Digitalization is advancing fast. What specific profiles are you recruiting because of this trend and at what level do you employ them?
Digitalization must be upheld by management. We must be certain that with information technology we can create added value for our customers and at a reasonable cost. This has an effect on our priorities in development, value creation, etc. Executives skilled in IT have an advantage and are given new responsibilities faster in this day and age. We employ qualified staff with the required technical training and experience, e.g. network specialists, software developers or electrical engineers. The electronics department at Bucher Industries’ largest division, the Kuhn Group, has doubled in size over the last 5 years.
The share of foreigners on executive boards of Swiss companies is 44%. In your opinion, how important is immigration for Swiss companies in general and your company in particular?
Switzerland’s prosperity is built on foreign business. Bucher Industries is a perfect example of this. The share of foreigners on the corporate executive board corresponds quite closely to the Swiss average. Bucher employs approx. 1000 people in Switzerland. Many maintain close contact to our production and sales locations abroad. We frequently bring in qualified people to Switzerland or send employees to overseas locations. This is necessary for a well-functioning cooperation and success in global competition. And this is exactly how we can retain qualified jobs in Switzerland. The exchange of employees should not be restricted for global organizations like Bucher. Isolation would have a negative effect on Switzerland’s interests.
How much importance do you attach to gender diversity in your company, and which measures have you taken to increase the proportion of women on your management boards?
Diversity makes decision-making easier because it is more holistic and validated. Diversity is manifested in different ways, for example education, age, experience, and gender. The latter is more difficult for companies in the machine industry because women tend to be less interested in our field. This makes it all the more important that interested women find an environment at Bucher in which they can assume managerial responsibility. Reconciling family life and career, in particular, calls for flexibility. This is also becoming increasingly important for fathers.