President Maier's Interview at PCIM 2013
in Fuji Electric Europe
On the occasion of PCIM 2013 Peter Maier, President of Fuji Electric Europe GmbH gave an interview to E&E – Faszination Elektronik / The Fascination of Electronics.
“Dealing with Fuji Electric is and should be a real pleasure for both our customers and our employees.”
Peter Maier, President Fuji Electric Europe, talks about the strategic changes at the company that led to a non-japanese president in Europe.
A non-japanese president in a Japanese company - why is this something special?
Over the last 25 years Fuji Electric Europe had always Japanese presidents. They were very successful members of Fuji Electric who had served the company for a couple of decades. And usually towards the end of their professional life at Fuji Electric, they were nominated to be presidents of Fuji Electric Europe. The new president of Fuji Electric in Japan changed the direction in order to become more global: He decided to hire a European president in order to strengthen local leadership. And this corresponds very well with the total direction of the company to become more global. It was his first measure.
Maybe you can go a little bit more into detail explaining this change of mind and also explain why they did choose you for this job.
Let me talk about the reason for the change first and then why they choose me. The reason for the change is: Today Fuji Electric has about 20% of their sales within the rest of the world, outside of Japan. That means: 80% of all sales is within Japan. Kitazawa-san, who is the new president, has the goal to grow the company substantially over the next five years. He identified areas of growth outside of Japan, because his growth goals were certainly not achievable within Japan. It was a natural move to look outside of Japan, and one of the areas to grow is certainly Europe. To install a European president is one means to better understand European customers’ requirements and problems. In addition, Fuji Electric recognized that most of our customers are world class in Europe in their core businesses. They said: Ok, we need the best sparring partners available - and they are in Europe. So we have to strengthen our European sales, marketing and services activities. And that's why I am here. Why they chose me? Well, I've been working with Fuji Electric for more than 20 years as a supplier to the power semiconductor factories in Scotland and Japan. And it is normally not the case that a Japanese company goes to a head-hunter to search for the position of a president. They usually only choose people they know, who they think can do the job and who they trust. Now, the last part, the trust, can usually not be developed in a couple of interviews during the search of a candidate. That has to be developed over many years in close cooperation and particularly in doing what you have promised. And both partners, Fuji Electric and I, have developed that kind of trust. And so I was probably one of the few candidates which fulfilled all these criteria in Europe.
What are your goals as the president of Fuji Electric Europe and what is your company expecting from you?
To make the whole company more global means that Fuji Electric Europe needs to go more local. I said it before: We need to better understand our customer's problems and requirements. And this is very difficult to do over 10.000 kilometres. Our total understanding of customers must improve and we have to find ways to combine the two worlds: The innovative European customer world with the very solid, quality-oriented Japanese world. Finding unique solutions that serve our customers better is our main goal. This will certainly lead to products and systems which will have a better performance, a better value and particularly a total cost of ownership over the life of the product which is better than it is today.
How does this change affect your customers - existing and potential?
I believe it will result in much more positive interaction between Fuji Electric and our customers. In the past Fuji Electric has been trying to sell mainly commodities, which is the natural way of selling something over a long distance. But in the future we will focus on exactly the product which the application of our customer requires. That means that we will strengthen our design-in and application support for customers. At the end of the day the customer will see more value for its money. We will also strengthen the design-in and application support particularly for products which are more efficient and superior in their total performance for our customers, like for example our reverse blocking IGBTs or future silicon carbide devices. These are all products of which we believe: If customized, it will serve our customers much better than our commodities in the past - which have been good, but not to 100 percent.
In Europe, Fuji offers only a part of the companies' portfolio. Are you going to change that?
Over time: yes. There are several Fuji Electric technologies and systems, which I must say Fuji Electric successfully has been hiding from the rest of the world outside of Japan. They have very efficient and very competitive products and technologies, which so far nobody really touched - because it seemed to be too complex to bring them to Europe. But as I am young and European and I want to achieve something we are now doing various efforts in order to find out what kind of products and technologies are really competitive or even superior in order to be introduced to Europe. We are in the midst of that process and already identified a couple. None of them is in competition with our semiconductor customers, but they are all energy-related - according to the Fuji Electric slogan: Innovating Energy Technology.
Do you thing that Fuji Electric can be a kind of role model for other Japanese companies regarding the leadership in Europe?
This is possible. At the moment we just don't know. We have a couple of gaps between Japan and Europe. We certainly have a language gap, we have cultural differences and we even have a different point of view at the world. For Japanese people the world looks totally different. If you look on the world map of Japan, Tokyo is the centre of the world - while if you look at our map, maybe Berlin is the centre of the world. But we are trying - as I said before - to combine the strength of these different worlds. And whether this will be successful or not, nobody knows today. In a couple of years I believe so, yes. And we would not go into that venture if we would not be convinced that it will definitely serve our customers better. The closer we get to our customers - and that's what we want - the better it will be for the both of us. If after a few years others would follow, that would be a very nice confirmation that we made the right decision now.
Finally: What is your message to the market - in one minute?
Dealing with Fuji Electric is and should be a real pleasure for both our customers and our employees. When I came to Fuji Electric only seven months ago, I experienced personally that it's really a very nice kind of family. It is a very warm-hearted family and working there is in most cases a real pleasure and it is filled with enthusiasm and joy. If we can bring part of that company culture to our extended family, which is our customers, then I think we both will benefit from this and will be happy.
Source: E&E – Faszination Elektronik / The Fascination of Electronics
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