Christian von Albrichsfeld, Continental Romania: “We aim to strengthen operational performance, differentiate our portfolio”
“In 2021 we need to continue to see the opportunities in front of us and increase the business and, at the same time, help our employees perform successfully. To do this, we need to rely on increasing transparency in all segments and at all levels of the business, foster the transfer of decision-making power where information is and act pragmatic in an optimistic and spontaneous, resilient manner,” Christian von Albrichsfeld, CEO Continental Romania told The Diplomat-Bucharest.
What do you think will be the main business drivers for business growth in your company in 2021?
In view of the transformation in the automotive industry and growing demand for connected, safe, sustainable, emission-free mobility, Continental is realigning its profitable growth course. As Continental CEO Nikolai Setzer said, the three cornerstones of our strategy will be decisive to transform Continental in a winner of the transformation in the mobility industry: strengthening our operational performance, differentiating our portfolio with a focus on value creation, and turning the change to connected and sustainable mobility into an opportunity.
The pandemic pushed us to take clear decisions in order to continue to be strong on a vulnerable market. The base for the decisions is the agility role we assumed. In 2021 we need to continue to see the opportunities in front of us and increase the business and, at the same time, help our employees perform successfully. To do this, we need to rely on increasing transparency in all segments and at all levels of the business, foster the transfer of decision-making power where information is and act pragmatic in an optimistic and spontaneous, resilient manner.
Will we assist to a Great Reset-oriented strategy in business or returning to business-as-usual?
For sure, the behaviour of the entire stakeholder landscape will not be as we were used to. For us, in automotive, the transformation of the automotive market started already some years ago and is ongoing while the pandemic situation came on top.
Everybody needs to adapt and to ensure a faster, more efficient, and more agile behaviour in all what a business relation means.
Adapting the way of working in an uncertain environment makes the big difference between the classic way of behaviour & work and the new one, of agile type.
The adaptation of the “behaviour” as a whole, respectively the change of behaviour, entails the change, which flow into adaptability.
What is the flag-ship project of 2020 in your company?
We can only emerge as a winner of the transformation considering strengthening operational performance, differentiate our portfolio and turn change into opportunity and achieving software and systems excellence.
What kind of workspace culture & values is to be consolidated in your company in 2021?
Continental is a value-driven organization, and this is one of the reasons we are a company where the value of the people comes on first-hand. Because with the right people, one can measure success as a common feature. And this is strongly connected to enabling the transformation process for this decade (diversity, leadership, flexibility, learning).
Thousands of Continental engineers (Romania included) are together in a global powerhouse for advanced development and application engineering. The goal of this integration is to maximize R&D productivity and achieve a smooth, speedy product launch, which is crucial in the industries relevant for Continental. This will be made possible primarily by concentrating R&D faculties on the functions in the vehicle and its surroundings, regardless of which electronic assemblies and systems these are assigned to later on. This focus on functions will facilitate the creation of pioneering solutions for greater safety, comfort, convenience, and connectivity on the roads.
What is a manager’s role and skills in order to maintain and enhance a team’s cohesion?
Flexibility/ Agility/ Adaptability is one of the roles which will play a significant part in today’s more and more faster changing world. One needs to adapt constantly to the needs of the organization, of the markets, of the entire world progress. This brings a lot of challenges, of course, but have the advantage of keeping one’s body and mind very sharp. And 2020 has shown us that we need to be in good shape, from all points of view, in order to lead a successful organization. Also, we will live in a more and more digitalized world, so we need to learn as much as possible about these aspects of our life. Because digitalization is not about turning on the computer, but about finding smart ways of simplifying every life aspect. We speak about Artificial Intelligence in cars, in logistics, in transportation, in smart city apps etc. We need to be able to use it in a clever manner even in management in order to obtain efficiency and best results.
On the other hand, in this context, when the interaction is limited and things are changing on short notice, it’s mandatory to keep close and communicate to the employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
What kind of skills and capabilities need to be improved in your company / team in 2021?
Continental is running the project Transformation 2019-2029, on worldwide level, which aims to reduce costs and to transform the company into a more flexible and efficient one. The objectives are to strengthen the operational performance, differentiate our portfolio and turn changes into opportunities, stay agile, enforce collaboration and learning, continuously improve software and systems excellence.
The leading technology company is focusing on developing projects where software is the main pillar. This is something where we, in Romania, are continuing to improve our presence and impact and aim to increase the importance of it in the future. Of course, we want to create impact through our quality of our products and technologies. This involves a focus on the production area as well. But all these can be made with a team which works close together and finds best solutions in all situations.
In term of general business & teams’ core-values, which are your 3 power words for 2021?
Transformation would be the first one since the entire world is going through a transformation process, but also because the company’s project Transformation 2019-2029 aims to transform Continental into a more flexible, more efficient and a stronger company. Agility is a role, as stated above, which would lead to a better version of ourselves and in these times, we all need to adapt and to act for best results. And these two words lead to the third one: teamwork and collaboration. Despite working remote, teamwork brings best results. Company’s core values, For One Another, Trust, Passion to Win and Freedom to Act enforce our employees to work together and obtain best results as #peopleofcontinental!