Mathias Schinzel - CFO - Emerson

Emerson Process Management seems to be continuing to grow and expand what makes you stand out from your competitors?

I think we have had a good run until a year ago. In all fairness, however, with the oil price being low this year we – like our competitors- are now having to structure and redirect our business towards industries that use oil and gas as their feedstock. Our recent order intake numbers make us optimistic that we are going in the right direction .As you alluded to in your initial question we have done really well.

What do you enjoy about living and working in Switzerland?

It is a very stable environment in a central European location and an excellent infrastructure. Tax incentives have always been a factor in the past. And quality of life is very good here.

As someone who has about ten years of experience working in the Swiss market-place, how have you found the Swiss market & working environment to have changed over these years?

Economically things have changed in the last couple of years: there is more pressure for transparency in banking and taxation. Last year’s referendum on immigration will inevitably have a future impact on the issue of work permits. Finally the Swiss franc has recently strengthened. These things all put pressure on the country and companies and serious challenges ahead.

 

What are the biggest challenges currently facing the business?

No one can tell where the oil price will go, but if you watch the news the supply of oil and gas is high at the moment and we will stay in this low oil price environment for a while so we have to explore other sectors. We have benefitted from the expanding Chinese economy, so the downturn in the Chinese economy has affected our business. We will have to see how we reposition in China and the export from our European countries into China. It’s a portion of our business but not large enough to have a dramatic effect. Matters in Russia we will also have to monitor.

Have the ongoing problems in Greece and its impact on the Eurozone had any impact on Emerson?

The Greek market is comparatively small. However, the Greek crisis has had a detrimental impact on the Euro.

What attracted you to join Emerson and what has kept you engaged about working here?

I joined when a segment of my previous company was acquired by Emerson.  Once here I began to appreciate the company culture and its values, which match my own in many ways. It is a global company with a vast number of career opportunities, assuming you have the flexibility and personal circumstances that allow you to pursue positions abroad.

What do you see as the core values of Emerson?

Drive for results, continuous improvement and problem solving, reliability and commitment, honesty, humility and integrity. We don’t take short cuts and we work hard.

If you could go back and give your younger (graduate) self some career advice, what would it be?

My oldest daughter just finished her International Baccalaureate and we are having lots of discussions right now.  I recommend taking time whilst you are young to explore what you enjoy doing; your chances of success are significantly higher if you really like what you are doing. Try new things; have different experiences and try different occupations. Travel is invaluable to get a sense of the vast variety the world has to offer; see the world before getting embedded in your career. Do not be naïve in thinking you can plan or predict anything beyond the next 5 to 10 years.  It is likely that you will retire in a quite different place than where you started your career and that in itself is not a bad thing.

What are your personal motivators?

Making the company better every day; helping the team to develop their competitive edge; using my common sense; decision making as if it were my own company; continually learning; helping to nurture younger talent.

How did you plan out your career development path?

Step by step, I had no long term plan. I was open minded and self-motivated and grabbed every opportunity that arose.

How do you relax outside work?

Honestly, I do struggle to switch off from work at times. I am trying at the moment to get my focus back on the main things and don’t get distracted by the noise. I have worked out with my all my direct reports to work a system for when I am on holiday to prevent flooding my emails and how to reduce e-mail traffic in general. It is one thing to say, I am not going to look at my emails, but at the same time nobody wants to get back from holiday and have a 1000+ emails. When I do switch off eventually, I enjoy spending time with my family, sports (hiking and skiing), reading, wining and dining.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of your role?

Having a hand in the development of future leaders, coaching, inspiring and mentoring people.                                                        

Looking back through your career, what would you identify as a personal highlight?

My time in China shaped me the most, both in work and private life.  It was a real adventure. There were several particularly memorable leaders who had a great influence on me.

What was the worst / best interview experience you have had?

Best: when you can have lively discussions on different business scenarios early on in an interview.

Worst: when a candidate answers with a generic statement indicating that they have not had hands-on experience.

How would you advise a jobseeker to approach the current market?

Do your research! Spend as long as time allows for detailed research.  Ensure that you make you application in the appropriate manner for that particular company. Showing an edge is better than trying to please everyone. Have a niche.

What advice would you give to future aspiring leaders, and why?

Be passionate, true and use your common sense. Take a balanced view; keep your sense of humour and moral integrity. Make a difference and try to maintain an entrepreneurial stance, even in a large corporation.

Which person do you admire in business and why?

Steve Jobs for his uncompromising vision and execution; I am not sure I would adopt his leadership style however!  There are also a number of CEOs, of small and medium size companies, for their personal vision and perseverance surviving in niche markets through innovation and speed. Politically I admired the German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, in my opinion, one of the best leaders Germany ever had.  It is fascinating and humbling to read his views and learn the extent of his knowledge.

 

*Views and opinions contained within our Executive Interviews are those of the Interviewee and not views shared by EMEA Recruitment.*

 
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