Managing director Olaf Steiner talks about current developments, future challenges and the key factors in working with customers and employees.
You became managing director of ds automation in 2018 and took over a well-rehearsed team with years of experience. What strengths and expertise did you discover here?
One thing that made a positive impression right away was how proud the team is of its achievements and product developments. It is great to see development work being carried out with such enthusiasm. What I also consider a great strength is that our development and production teams work hand in hand, which means that everyone knows our products inside out. Everyone knows how important good development work is to ensure a smooth production process. So everyone works together and supports each other to create high-quality final products. We have talents here that others would be pleased to have: employees with broad expertise, who are able and willing to think outside the box and to find out about new topics.
What are the most interesting developments that you have seen and shaped in recent years? What have the key milestones been for you and your team?
As far as our working relationships and project design are concerned, the introduction of agile working last year was a huge benefit. On the one hand it gives us more flexibility in our everyday processes, and on the other it enables us to respond better in our customer relationships. Together we have set a course that is based even more on finding solutions and adding value for our customers, rather than just being satisfied with the status quo and our existing products. In recent months our developers have been in even closer direct contact to our customers, which enables them to focus their work more sharply on the things that are important for later operations. Everyone takes a bit more responsibility for our projects and at the same time is involved more directly in achieving the objectives.
What are the trends that affect your work? What are the challenges you are setting yourselves now and in the next year or two?
The trends that affect us are the ones everyone is talking about, i.e. the Internet of Things and digitalisation. We are currently implementing a number of innovative steps that have been designed together with external partners. What is vital that we are not doing this in isolation, but as within the context of cooperation agreements. Our motivation is to generate practical benefits for industrial firms. Because we are only satisfied when we resolve problems for our customers. I am convinced that with what we are doing now, we are in the right place at the right time.
What strengths have you observed when new developments are being implemented by the team?
We design all the projects together and jointly define all targets. That calls for people to think seriously about the work that others do and be willing to create joint tasks, which is something I very much appreciate.
What motivates you personally to drive this development forwards? What is the exciting thing about this development, apart from the technology?
The best reward for our work is a longer-term relationship with our customers and partners. Commercial success comes from doing something useful for others, and doing so on a sustainable basis. So any follow-on projects are a great motivation and a sign that we are on the right track.
How do you measure the success of your projects? What values are they based on?
When we have really added value for our customers in a specific situation, then it is always worth going the extra mile. We don’t run away when things get difficult. Transparency is an important part of that. If we notice that something isn’t working, we say so. That applies both to working within the team and to dealings with our partners and customers. This creates trust and without trust and mutual understanding, nothing is possible.
What do you appreciate about working with external partners?
In Schwerin we have a great local business community, with other technology companies around, and at the same time we operate in global markets with a highly diverse international customer base. That makes our work incredibly varied and interesting at the same time.
What were your resolutions and wishes at the start of the year 2020?
2020 will be a good year! Like all the others before it!