Switzerland

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  • Date: 11/6/2012

Advanced technologies 

Interviewee: Matthias Altendorf, Member of the Executive Board of the Endress+Hauser Group

What importance is attached to the topic of innovation in your sector in general, and within your own company in particular?

Matthias Altendorf: Process Automation assists our customers in increasing their productivity and making them more competitive. For instance, our products, services and solutions offer quite tangible help with bringing the various links in the value-added chain closer together, saving resources, enhancing quality and making production processes safer for both people and the environment. This calls for a constant stream of new ideas, which must then, of course, be successfully introduced onto the market. So the importance attached to innovation in our sector and within our own company is correspondingly high.

 

At Endress+Hauser we try to create long-term benefits for our customers by intelligently interlinking a variety of elements. For this we make use of progressive technologies – here, for example, I am thinking of microsystems technology, embedded systems, modern joining technology or innovative materials. And we focus on pioneering services that, for instance, integrate IT systems, increase the clarity of information and knowledge, improve the logistics chain or calibrate measuring equipment and systems.

 

Ultimately, we have a number of factors interacting: the skills of our employees, our consistent focus on our customers’ sectors, our global marketing and production network, our close collaborative links with universities and institutions, a professional patent system, our strong corporate culture and our long-term orientation as a family-run company, with all of these factors combining to create the conditions that facilitate these innovations for our customers.

As far as your company is concerned, what are the main challenges today in terms of remaining innovative?

Matthias Altendorf: Every company looking to overcome the challenges of healthy growth and increasing globalization goes through phases in which the structures of the past are no longer adequate for ensuring success in the future. This is true for us as well. Next year will see Endress+Hauser celebrating its 60th anniversary. During this time, we have always managed to evolve our organizational structure so as to allow us to remain innovative – and to enjoy the success generated by innovations. It is my hope to see this sound success continuing in the future!

How do you ensure that your company will remain innovative going forward?

Matthias Altendorf: Our approach is always tailored to reflect our customers’ requirements and the long-term trends that they have to deal with. We set great value on striking a good balance between the centralized and decentralized elements of the group’s structure. We also endeavor to give our employees adequate scope to use their own initiative and provide them with suitable resources for the innovation process. And then there’s the inestimable benefit of being a family-run business. This means embracing a value-driven culture that allows us to remain quick on our feet and open to new ideas. It also offers us a stable framework oriented toward the long term. This security also means job security and should not be underestimated – after all, innovation is always built on the absence of fear! However, another important concern is to create and maintain a working environment that our employees can enjoy and that facilitates fresh ideas to allow people to work not just in but on our company. Up until now, all of these factors combined with sound management and an excellent workforce within our corporate network have helped us to remain innovative.

How do you contribute to a sustainable economy?

Matthias Altendorf: As a company, we can do nothing more sustainable than continue to be successful, as this secures existing jobs and creates new ones, generates income and taxes, serves the interests of employees, customers, the owners and, ultimately, the society we live in. In the process, innovations help us to remain successful, as do our excellent business processes and their ongoing improvement. Of course we have to achieve results in the short term, as otherwise there can be no long-term success. However, the crucial factor is a robust strategy for the long term. Only if this strategy is right can we invest the resources we have acquired into facilitating and generating lasting success. And it goes without saying that, internally, we have to make sure that we make the best use of our resources and cut waste to an absolute minimum.

How does your company ensure it attracts the best people in the fight for the best talent available?

Matthias Altendorf: We do not see ourselves as in a fight, but as always attempting to recruit fresh employees keen to shape our shared future. To this end, we are highly committed to education and training, from apprenticeships through to university degrees, from courses in business studies to doctorates. We also try to encourage our employees and ensure their loyalty by providing them with a good framework. We offer flexibility, self-reliance, interesting tasks, an open-minded corporate culture and a people- and values-oriented management style. Prospects and stability are important elements here. In our company talented individuals can become key players, largely in a position to shape their own professional career for themselves. I also feel that we have a healthy way of dealing with mistakes. And nobody need worry about losing his or her job in the next economic downturn. We can offer all of these incentives. But the main thing is that, for us, our employees are more than just a number – they are people too!
Interviewer: Martin Rohrbach, Partner Audit
 

Matthias Altendorf

Matthias Altendorf

 

Member of the Executive Board of the Endress+Hauser Group