Heimo Scheuch Podcast

Heimo Scheuch Podcast Episode #21: CEO Ask me anything, Part 2/3 - Culture and Diversity at Wienerberger

November 04, 2022 Heimo Scheuch Season 1 Episode 21
Heimo Scheuch Podcast
Heimo Scheuch Podcast Episode #21: CEO Ask me anything, Part 2/3 - Culture and Diversity at Wienerberger
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What would you ask a CEO of a global company with around 19.000 employees? Heimo Scheuch invited his community for a Q&A. In this episode you will find out which advice he would give his 30 year-old-self advice, discover Wienerberger's approach on new work and find out which CEO he would swap places with for one day. #askmeanything #cultureanddiversity

Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to my podcast! I'm Heimo Scheuch, the CEO of Wienerberger and today we have a special edition of my podcast!"Ask me anything" was the subject, and in this sense I'm glad to answer your questions.

The first question was:

"Hello Mr. Scheuch, what advice would you give to 30 year old Heimo Scheuch? What would you have liked to know earlier?" I'm not the type of guy who gives advices because I think everybody is well positioned to know what's best for herself or himself. But if I look back and what you were saying when I was 30 years old and and now I'm already 50, I'm turning 56 actually, so,..I'm getting old! But at 30 I think, it's important, that you..there's a lot of enthusiasm for doing things, being curious, being intrigued and interested. I think the only thing I would say as an advice to be patient. Sometimes when you are younger, you want to do everything in one day or in one hour. Things need to happen because they have to happen and you need to wait for the right moment, so this is I think..the priviledge of being a little bit more experienced is that you have patience - and this is something as a young one you don't have so much, but I would say, that would have been a little bit more helpful at that time being. Can you name a person, who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader, maybe someone who has been a mentor to you, and why and how did this person impact your life? I would say there are 2 persons, and sorry if I say 2, but that's actually a fact, that have had a major impact on me. My beloved father who died a couple of years ago was a natural born leader. A leader in the sense that he had a difficult childhood, had to come out of this, he did his own sort of studies and how he sort of created his own life. But he have me a very good background in the sense of "Keep your two feet on the ground". He is somebody who is in close contact with nature, because nature forms us and gives us a lot of advice when you listen to it carefully and he gave me this, sort of opportunity to learn with him. And this is certainly the major part of my life. And the other one is my mother, because she is a caring woman! She is really keeping the family together and has great values. And in this lifetime it's so important to have values and she clearly, from a value of being honest, trust, respect, as I mentioned earlier, these are things, that she clearly lives in her life and she is so respectful and so caring, there's no better mother in the world than her. Which advice would you give your 18 year old self? An advice that would've saved yourself so much time? What would that be? I would say, you know, when I was 18 and we are talking here the years end of the 70ies, it was a completely different world. We didn't have smartphones. We didn't have the internet. We were not allowed to see so much TV, or watch TV. So for us it was a completely different lifestyle. Today being 18 is very very different. So again, I think here to be open minded, to reflect a little bit, to listen to others is very important. I think today, everybody has an opinion about everything and I think also young people should be open minded and respect what other people have to say and listen to them carefully, before they make their own judgement. I think this is important! Again another aspect, which in this changing world is very very critital is, to learn from others, to be open minded to other cultures, because as you know respect is very important these days. A lot of people are very quick in saying "Ah I respect", but then they turn around and it's the contrary. And when I talk about respect it's about culture, race, religion and social background - all of them are important. And then I think everybody at 18 is well adviced to do this, because it's really critical for the future of our society. Which advice would you give someone who isn't sure or happy with his current job? To take off a little while. To take a week or two off and spend a little time somewhere else and think about himself or herself and what really matters. And then make a decision afterwards. If you are not sure, that you do the right thing, take a little bit time, reflect and then take a decision. And it's never a bad decision, because a decision is important. Not just continue and just let it flow, but take a deliberate decision, either to continue and change certain things or say "Listen, this is not the right job, I move on!" Because as I said, life is short and you should enjoy every day and not just being frustrated or depressed. That's not the right way forward! What is your opinion on the subject of new work? We are talking about flexible working, remote working, the 4-days-week. Are all these implementable for Wienerberger, at least in the white collar area, and are there any steps planned already? Well I think it's very good that you mention this, because when we talk about Wienerberger, more than 19.000 colleagues working for Wienerberger today, I would say more or less 15.000 work in our factories. So flexible hours is a little difficult cause you have shifts to do and this responsibility to run our plants and therefore I think it's important to have here, obviously a lot of respect for them, because they work hard hours, hard work during the summer. It's very hot and also in winter it's also not the best working environment in some areas, so I think it's very important that we keep this in mind - as a manufacturing company. And we do a lot to improve their health and their safety and that should be top of the agenda. When we now move to, what you called the "white collar" or meaning administration, sales and other overhead structures, keep in mind that obviously, we already have a lot of remote working. Take for example a sales representative. She or he has to travel to see clients. He can't plan this in 20 hours or in 24 hours. There are some long hours as well, organised differently or late evenings, for example, when you sit with clients. So there is a lot of flexibility, yes and there must be because obviously you have a private life as well. So we need to be flexible and we need to have remote working, but I think it's only normal in a modern context to do so. Then, we have obviously familiy situations. You have obviously today a different family than you used to have: patchwork families, families that obviously with smaller or bigger grown up kids, you know also the pandemic has shown us, it's complex to manage this.

So we have to be more flexible:

working from home, being responsible to certain things and we trust each other, that everybody, sort of, accomplishes what she or he has to do. But at the end of the day I am a strong believer that we humans are social beings. We need to get together and the office is a place where we get together and where we exchange. You can't be innovative, you can't be creative if you stay at home only. Some people like to do that, but I think in the Wienerberger family, we need to say clearly"the office work is part of us, of ourselves" because here we get together, we learn from each other, we share experience and we devote a lot of energy to innovation. So, yes, flexible hours, yes, there can be different ones, we have it already for different groups etc. so this is going to be part of it, but I think we need to keep in mind and also we have to act responsible for the company because we all work for the company, not for ourselves. And we need to have a respectful and trustful working relationship, which each other. What is planned to ensure that there are more women in senior management at Wienerberger and is there a target of reaching 50% at some point or how realistic is that within the next few years? First of all, I find it, and this is my very personal opinion, I would find it very, very strange and actually not very rewarding for women to set targets, because that would be very negative and I think the American colleagues or the North American ones and the English have done away with this because they say it's gender equality. So I know we are a little bit behind in continental Europe but I think we should not talk about targets. What is more important, that we create an atmosphere where young women can grow through the organization. Because it's normal that if somebody wants to create a family, for example and wants to have kids, we should not punish women for this, that's the old days. I mean you need to create the flexibility that first of all the young women stay integrated, if they want to, spend time with their kids, but then can come back - also timewise from 15 to 20 hours, then 25 hours, whatever, but we need to create this atmosphere and this framework. I think we have done it successfully at least at Wienerberger. And then it is a question of willingness. You know that I'm very glad to have a colleague on the managing board, you know that we have colleagues also in the supervisory board and this has changed dramatically - it is a matter of time. You can't, sort of say "tomorrow" I will be at this percentage point etc. I think Wienerberger has its own culture and we will succeed. When you look at certain aspects like sales, internal sales for example, administration, we are well above 45% already, so I think we could create here the basis for the future, a strong foothold for women in management. You mentioned that you liked sports, what do you think about companies offering their employees sports activities and does Wienerberger even offer such activities? To my knowledge we offer in certain subsidiaries, also here at the headoffice, certain courses on yoga, or we have even running classes etc., yes we an do this from time to time but at the end of the day I think, everybody needs to make a choice, what he or she does in his spare time and do this. I think we should not overdo it, with respect, what we all propose, because actually for us it's important to have a healthy and good and future oriented working environment, do a lot for training and education and the rest I think, everybody is well advised to keep an eye on herself or himself.

The last quesiton of this section is:

"If you could swap places with any other CEO for one day, who would it be and why?" I won't, no I don't want to swap anything. I am very happy with where I am. I think for me it's important to have a great culture, great colleagues around me and people to work with. Wienerberger is a wonderful company! I've seen a lot in my life, I think we have a wonderful corporate culture, we have so many enthusiastic people among the more than 19.000 and believe me, the more I travel, the more I'm in touch with people that work for example long hours in our factories and how enthusiastic, how devoted they are, it's a wonderful thing to have - and I don't want to change anything!

Which advice would you give to your 30-years old self?
Can you name a person, who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Which advice would you give to your 18-years old self?
Which advice would you give someone, who isn't happy with his/her current job?
What is your opinion on the subject of new work?
What is planned to ensure that there are more women in senior management at Wienerberger and is there a target of reaching 50% at some point?
What do you think about companies offering their employees sports activities?
If you could swap places with any other CEO for one day; who would it be and why?