Q&A: Michael Ziesemer, Endress+Hauser Management

Michael Ziesemer, Vice President of the Supervisory Board, Endress+Hauser. Photo: Mark Bollhorst
Michael Ziesemer, Vice President of the Supervisory Board, Endress+Hauser. Photo: Mark Bollhorst
Switzerland is an export country, and the euro-franc exchange rate is hindering growth, but Switzerland’s export volume is continuously stable. Why is that?
Swiss industry is very efficient and competitive. That is why the majority of businesses can hold their ground despite the unfavourable euro-franc exchange rate – above all the bigger companies, because they benefit from the advantages of international networks. They can buy intermediate products internationally and remodel the value-added chain to cushion the exchange-rate problems. But we mustn’t overlook the fact that this does not apply to all the businesses. The current euro-franc exchange rate remains a problem.

What is Endress+Hauser’s formula to remain successful on the international market long-term?
We listen to our customer base worldwide and act accordingly. We are continuously extending our services, analytics, and solutions businesses, as well as improving our products. Innovation is important too. The digitisation of industry in particular requires us to deliver new products. Ultimately, our employees and their collaboration with our customers and shareholders are a decisive factor in our success. For 63 years Endress+Hauser has been in stable ownership. That too, is a cornerstone of our success.

The export industry is dependent on skilled personnel, which is scarce on the (European and Swiss) labour market. How can we solve this latent problem, especially against the backdrop of the whole immigration debate?
Without engineers and skilled labour, there can be no industry. It is as simple as that, and it will get difficult in the future. After all, we are already in the middle of demographic change. Only a bundle of measures can help. First, we have to make use of our internal potential. Choices for women and older employees have to be more flexible. We need to get more young people interested in education in technology and industry. And of course we need experts from Europe and beyond. Erecting hurdles in the race to acquire the world’s best professionals is damaging. It requires courage and confidence – not barriers – to master this key challenge in the future.

Publication date: 03 November, 2016