Hans Gut - Managing Director - MAN Diesel & Turbo

What do you love about Switzerland and why?

I was born and raised here, although I did spend some time in Germany, I always come back to Switzerland though. It is the most beautiful place on earth to live, the scenery and recreational areas are a big attraction.

Switzerland offers a political stability combined with a low crime rate. I have always been impressed with how people engage with each other, there is a very high work ethic instilled here.

As someone who has had a number of years’ experience within the Swiss market-place, how have you found the Swiss market & working environment has changed over these years? What, in your opinion, have been the drivers for these changes?

Switzerland has experienced change as have other countries, over 120 years ago a lot of Swiss people emigrated, typically for North America, as they have many natural resources which Switzerland lacked (coal, iron etc.).

The working environment has certainly become more international over the years; there is a stronger global awareness, an entrepreneurial mindset and management style. I joined MAN 25 years ago, back then the key leadership roles often connected with how long people had worked for the company. 

MEM used to be very powerful in the local market, however globalisation could be a factor as to why this power has reduced. The senior leaders of businesses in Switzerland connected via Globalisation and built their relationships for the future in the same way, now the old networks have been replaced. This means these network changes are no longer as powerful as influential as they once were.

The change in the currency stabiliser last year obviously had a big impact across the country. But it is getting better, I'm a firm believer that these difficulties keep us fit, keep us lean and remain lean. 

We must remember that change is the only constant. 

What advice would you give to the ‘Engineering and Manufacturing’ sectors across Switzerland to ensure they maintain an edge over competitors internationally?

My advice would be to stay alert, remain effective and 'just do it'. Switzerland has the most Patents per head globally - focus on this innovative approach. Balance your business across price, quality and delivery on time in full. Maintaining a control across the business is crucial. The workforce within Switzerland is of a very high skill set which impacts positively on the end products for our worldwide customers.

As our political situation is so consistent it gives businesses the confidence to invest for the future. 

What excites you about working for MAN Diesel & Turbo?

I am excited by the fact that I work for the biggest industrial player in Zurich. As I am an Engineer myself I have never lost that passion or enthusiasm to manufacture a product. To feel it, see it and handle the product we are producing. 

I’m excited by the fact that we are the only business to successfully place a compressor in the sea bed. Being founded in 1758 in Germany then in 1805 in Switzerland we have a vast amount of experience in this field that also fills me with excitement and pride. 

I also enjoy having the whole value chain on site, thus allowing me to keep in touch regularly with all key areas of the business.

What challenges await your business and how do you hope to overcome them?

The Swiss Franc has been a difficulty, not in relation to the USD but certainly the Euro, giving us a new problem to solve. Also the oil price has been a problematic factor which is causing investments to be reduced - The price currently being Brent below 40$

However we have always been very strong at responding to problems with good solutions.

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

Be open minded in your search of a career, open to new things and new experiences. It is important to find a proper balance between the business life and your personal life (work and life balance). Ask yourself “what do I want to achieve long term– Whether it is management or at an Engineering level, what excites me?” Take time to understand what you expect from your  business life, it will last circa 40 years so ensure you have fun, you will be doing it a long time.

I found choosing a good mentor is crucial, change things if it isn’t working. Personally I always wanted to work in an international company offering international experiences

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

I have always enjoyed bringing new ideas into an industry, inventing “new” things like the brazing process here in Zurich which was created from nothing and led to a business wide training program. Establishing a global production network and being a part of the Chinese ramp up. Focusing on both production and quality. 

When did you decide to explore a career in Engineering and why?

I have always enjoyed the tangible side of Engineering, I want to see the things I’m working on, there’s a great buzz from an engineering floor. Other than Engineering I enjoyed History but I couldn’t see a career other than Teaching or as an Author. Engineering focusses on improving the future, Engineers have help impact good changes in the world. My father positively influence d me to join Engineering.

What recruitment challenges do you face?

At the moment none, the market for us is still in a downturn. However there is a strong assurance that we will begin to see an upturn in the order book. We cannot say when as the market is still volatile.

Obviously we focus towards our share price and maintaining positivity. The management task is still to balance the business until we see the market return back to how it was.

What attributes do you look for when choosing a recruitment partner?

Most of all I look for good communication and understanding. I want a recruitment partner who is able to show they understand our business needs. A partner who is able to identify the right skill sets for our business and most importantly is able to match these together with our culture to maximise efforts of all sides. Matching the right attitude is crucial

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

The best is having witnessed an interviewer and interviewee having an instant bond and understanding. 

The worst, when a candidate has an obvious lack of understanding about the job they are interviewing for. Also when salary disparity occurs, if a candidate ask for too high a salary when they haven’t taken into consideration the role or business in terms of long term career plans and opportunities. 

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

Firstly, take the time to fully understand what it is that you are looking for from a short and long term career plan. Doing this will help identify whether you are in the right position to make a success of your career. Secondly, ask yourself “can you see a clear career path from this position to allow you to build for the future?”  Finally, do you actually want to make this career choice? This groundwork is important as building a career takes time, energy and effort. It needs to be enjoyable. 

What would be your advice to someone aspiring to be where you are now?

In short, push to generate the momentum to move forward but be patient. As I mentioned, it can take time to build and earn the career you desire.

What advice would you give to apprentices currently working in Engineering businesses to aid their success?

It will require hard work, be aware of this and be prepared to work very hard. Be smart about how you undertake your career path, and be innovative. This will always aid your path to success. Make sure you enjoy what you do, having fun is important it helps keep you focused and motivated

Who was your most admired person when you were in your childhood and why?

My mother and father, they were instrumental in teaching me how to be a good person.

What books / blogs are you currently reading?

Currently it is Swiss Crime: "Die Tote im Dolder"

Do you have any hidden talents?

Not that I am aware of!! 

 

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

 
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