Marcel Lenzlinger - Regional Vice President Finance - TechData

As someone who has had over 20 years’ experience within the Swiss market-place, how have you found the Swiss market & working environment has changed over these years?

It has completely changed. The main driver is the change in technology. Twenty years ago, who had a mobile phone? The answer is almost nobody. Technology has impacted and accelerated other changes like globalisation. It certainly changed the working environment; availability is no longer limited to office times.  

Communication is now faster, usually more efficient and more frequent than it was 20 years ago. I use video conferencing systems daily enabling me to visually connect to people all over the world at little cost.

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

Our industry has always been very fast moving and high paced. But summarising the last twenty years, it has meant changing product portfolio; less desktops, more notebooks; then less notebooks, more tablets etc. The last years were driven by the growth of smartphones. At the same time we saw a continuous pressure on margins, we reacted to this by adding more value for our customers and streamlining our cost structure.

Currently we are entering a decade of significant changes. Among others, the following four trends may have an impact our industry:

  • Internet of Things - meaning more and more devices being connected. It is expected that the number of devices connected over the next five years will double. Studies estimate efficiency gains in 2025 to be somewhere between 4 and 11 trillion dollar – What an opportunity!
  • Industry 4.0 – meaning connecting the production processes and machines - crossing borders allowing optimization of Supply Chains with immediate detection of defects. It will also impact the construction area: You will be able to walk through your new house with 3D glasses, walk into rooms, choose colours and furniture etc. before anything has started. Parts of your house will be printed and no longer built. They estimate in a study that going forward this will save 60% of the material and 70% of the time to build a house.

Almost all areas of production will be impacted and will have a significant impact on job profiles and requirements.

  • Cloud – meaning you will have your current data available anywhere at any time. Many people think of this as a personal cloud /storage space (e.g. Dropbox), but this will become more relevant to the working world with private clouds.

The Software industry already started to move the business model from buying to renting a software. This means a different revenue stream for the manufacturers and a different model for the users, e.g. you will always have the latest version of a software.

  • Security - having everything linked and stored in the cloud raises the question, is it secure? The need for Security will boost the demand for both physical and software security.

 

There are so many different opportunities for our industry, if we catch them.  The competition will change in response to the differing up and coming opportunities, we will see new competitors, some we do not even know about yet, many of which will be entrepreneurial start-up companies. As a consequence our industry will look quite different in 10 years’ time.

What does your organisation currently do to contribute towards career development?

For us, the most important asset is our people. I know everybody says that however for us it is so important as it is what differentiates us from our competitors, the personal touch from our sales staff and the customer service we provide. After all, the products we sell today are exchangeable – “it’s the same box our competitor sells there’s hardly any branding”.

We invest to retain and develop our employees, for example we have our own academy; the ‘Tech Data Academy’. This is where managers and staff with high potential learn about not only Tech Data but also the economy, management, financials etc. We systematically do ‘on the job’ training with internal and external trainers and have career plans in place.

As you hold a degree in Economics and a Masters in Accounting/Controller, what would have been your third choice and why? 

Actually, none of them were my first choice. As a teenager during my apprenticeship I was interested in literature about psychology and human behaviour. My plan was to study psychology, so I visited an information day in a school in Zurich. Unfortunately they told me I would need a degree first. As most of the other visitors had a degree in Economics, I followed suit with the clear aim to study psychology afterwards. It turned out differently. But I am still fascinated by human behaviour, how they react to certain situations etc.

What are your career motivators?

To do my job well and achieve my targets, my strongest motivation is to strive to do this every day.

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

Trust, the better the recruiter knows my company, its’ culture, me, my team, my needs, the better the pre-selection will be. Over time this will lead to building a partnership where both parties know one another well and work well together. Personally, I do not believe in changing a recruiter each time we have a new role to fill. The cost of recruiting the wrong person is huge.

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

Firstly: Make sure you set big targets, and set them high!

Life is like walking on a landscape, with hills and valleys: If you are on a hill you have a good view and everything looks nice, but if you are in a valley the next hill looks much bigger than it actually is. If your target is not set high enough, you lose it when being in a valley. But if it is high up, you will still be able to see it. I have always set high targets.

Secondly: honesty, this is more important than short term benefits or short term profit. For me, this is a key attribute for an employee to have. Always be flexible and anticipate change, make decisions hard decisions, but never lose your humanity. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve targets, ensure you work hard and focus on the important things. Do not expect to be better than average if you work average!

Finally, you need to have the right theoretical background; go to school and study, the younger you are the easier it is. Keep refreshing your knowledge, find something new to learn. 

 

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

 
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