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Hager Group, of German-French roots, is becoming increasingly more global. Pascal Dubreucq, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific at Hager Group, explains why a global perspective is a challenge for every one of us and a great oppourtunity as well.
With customers in more than 100 countries and two dozen production sites around the world, you could say that we are already a global organisation. So why do we need even more of a global perspective?
Today our turnover outside Europe contributes to less than 15% of the total revenue. To be more Customer Centric, we have to accelerate our efforts to become more glocal, which means thinking and acting both global and local at the same time.
In your own words would you describe a global perspective?
Global Perspective means understanding and valuing our worldwide differences and bundling them into a comprehensive approach in order to become a more global company. It is the challenge of shaping a multifaceted organisation and staying in line with the demands of the business; providing solutions, products, and services for each region worldwide whilst understanding cultural diversity.
By doing so, a Global Perspective will boost our business out of Europe by being closer to regions, markets and customers, valuing worldwide differences, and mobilising local competencies to gain the advantage of our differences. In other words: Global Perspective means capitalising on our diversity.
Can you name a well-known company or brand which, from your point of view, really follows a global perspective?
One success story is definitely Starbucks Coffee. This US brand managed to convince customers even in a tea-drinking country like China to go to their cafés not just for the coffee, but also because it is a fashionable place to get a drink or a snack. Starbucks also adapted to local culture and habits. For example, it adjusted the taste of coffee to local preferences by adding Jasmine flavour, provided customised food such as Caesar Salad with Chinese noodles and payment by WeChat. And this adaptability really paid off, today Starbucks has more than 2,500 outlets with China being the second in number of point of sales after the US.
Is there an alternative to becoming global for us? Why don’t we stick to being the Franco-German company we were some years ago; exporting our products and solutions to a few other markets, faithful to our roots? Why is there a need to change?
We can no longer simply be a Franco-German company for a number of reasons:
Primarily, even if the economic growth in Asian countries has decreased somewhat, it is still higher than 8% per year, while in Europe we might only reach 1.5 % growth per year. Therefore, we’d simply miss out on important growth opportunities in the Rapidly Developing Economies (RDE’s), if we were to stick to our traditional markets, in which we already have high market shares.
Our Franco-German roots are without a doubt an extremely important success factor. We can rely on them as a strong key asset to convince customers in RDE’s. As both an international and European player, plus a brand image of design and quality, we can differentiate ourselves from local players. At the same time, we have to demonstrate that Hager Group is able to develop competence centres & talents in the RDE’s and produce locally faster than today. Reinforcing our customer centricity and glocal approach will definitely preserve our assets.
With the Change Lever, Global Perspective, we are working on all these matters. Please describe a few initiatives that are part of this lever.
Today, we have three competence centres outside Europe where we develop, manufacture and supply solutions for RDE countries: Huizhou in China supplies all our protection products including Air Circuit Breakers up to 6300 Amps and Wiring Accessories and klik Systems for lighting. Donguang, which is a bit smaller, produces enclosures from FDB to SDB which are compliant with British Standard and sold in China and other APAC-countries. In Pune, India, we are manufacturing protection devices.
With these local competence centres, we’re able to offer locally adapted products and solutions to customers worldwide. An example; the insysta Wiring Accessories range in India, manufactured locally, designed in France and developed with engineering support from Germany. Another example is the first local type of main distribution board up to 4000 Amps, which was tested in China with Swiss engineering support. We are currently working on many other projects of this type.
Why is the Shark Project a good example of global perspective?
The Shark Project demonstrates an absolute must to supply locally and build a strong partnership as we are sometimes not yet capable of doing so or having the volume to be competitive as well as being customer-focused. It is a striking example of our increasingly global approach, with Shark, the Chinese WA market analysis and the definition of the product portfolio as well as the specifications have been done locally. Furthermore, our Chinese marketing colleagues have defined a route to market by segments (High End Residential, Offices & Public buildings) to better succeed in selling our offer. The development was conducted with a local partner in order to be aggressive in both time to market and costs. In addition to which, local manufacturing of a Chinese product brings us the necessary competitiveness to address the mid-end market.
To sum it all up, Shark brings together the main reasons why Chinese customers will buy from us; good and affordable quality from a renowned international player.
What lessons have been leared from this project? Are there any major takeaways for you?
Well, the not so good news is that Shark will be launched with a delay of almost 9 months. We have learned that we are still too slow in our working process and need to improve our agility to make decisions and take over responsibilities. The good news is that this is part of our transformation journey, by which we improve our speed to market and customers’ requirements.
How do we measure the extent in which we develop our global perspective?
It is always difficult to measure a mindset evolution. Nevertheless, when I discuss the process with colleagues, I can already sense an increasing awareness, not only are our European needs are taken into account, also those of the RDE countries. More and more solutions are specified and developed abroad by our local teams and their suppliers. This is very encouraging and promising for our dynamics.
Does becoming a glocal company also mean that the career perspectives of every employee become more global? Will there be more exchanges between markets and cultures?
Growing our business outside Europe will indeed open many new opportunities for our colleagues from the RDEs as well as those in Europe. Recently new branch offices in Indonesia, South Africa, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) or Australia have given some of our French and Italian colleagues the opportunity to relocate and continue their career development in a team locally.
On the other hand, I have to say that not many young talents are ready to accept the challenge of working in another country and culture. When we built up jobs in MSCC APAC or in the Australian commercial team, we had difficulties finding colleagues ready to move abroad. It is up to us, Hager Group management team, to better communicate these opportunities and convince people of the benefits of a career in a global organisation. Many development programmes and initiatives headed by our Human Resources teams promote such career opportunities.
I am personally convinced that working in an international group offers fantastic opportunities for everyone to broaden their horizons. Our Six Change Levers Global Perspective and People are the right initiative to encourage that mindset. They are an important part of our transformation journey.