Leadership: a matter of the heart
Simon Stähli is a true home-grown member of the thyssenkrupp family: starting in 2013 as a student assistant at thyssenkrupp Steering / Presta AG, Simon is now responsible for the Manufacturing Testing division with 35 employees in Eschen, Liechtenstein.
And this is where the steering specialists’ modern systems are really put through their paces. As Head of Manufacturing Testing, Simon leads a motivated and competent team – including group leaders, project managers and employees from the Electrical Engineering, Process Technology and Software divisions. Simon’s role is not only multifaceted and demanding in the extreme. As steering systems are classed among the safety-relevant assemblies, the team bears an enormous responsibility. Read the interview to discover how Simon’s team masters its day-to-day challenges!
If you want to get ahead, you have to get things moving. What do you put in motion at thyssenkrupp?
My primary task is to manage machine procurement for development test benches and End-Of-Line modules. The End-Of-Line modules are fully automated test benches that perform the final testing of the manufactured product at the end of an assembly line. The machines are mechanically and electrically designed, manufactured and assembled together with our suppliers. The software and process functionality are developed in-house. As soon as a machine has the necessary mechanical and electrical maturity, the corresponding project team takes over the machine’s functional commissioning. As the machine procurement function, we act as a central service provider for several business areas within the company: On the one hand, for our product-specific operating units. On the other, for R&D and the specialist Competence Centres. The expectations placed on our performance are correspondingly high, which is why we continuously and consistently optimise at every opportunity. We enjoy tremendous success in our endeavours, not least because we have a professional team with a high level of expertise and comprehensive knowledge, which is already involved in the development and design phase of the machines.
Why is your job so important?
The development and testing of new products are essential. Especially in our field: the steering system in a car is a safety-relevant component. A loss of functionality while driving would have fatal consequences. Our development test benches and End-Of-Line modules test the quality and functionality of steering systems. That is why 100% assurance is provided at this point. In other words, every single steering system that is manufactured must be tested. It is not only random samples that are taken.
As a leader, you shoulder a lot of responsibility. What constitutes good leadership?
As a leader, I fulfil a clear role model function that is very close to my heart. As a boss, I have to embrace the work I do to the maximum, and stand behind my decisions. I also communicate my expectations clearly and in a way that is appropriate to each discipline. I also promote a structured way of working and entrepreneurial thinking in the team. This also includes thinking outside the box and constantly developing my organisational remit. Visits to trade fairs and suppliers promote holistic understanding and broaden horizons. The spirit of cooperation with technical colleges and universities in the immediate vicinity as part of development projects, and the resulting technology transfer, are particularly important to me, including when it comes to the topic of succession planning. At the end of the day, our employees are the basis, the stable foundation for the success of our company.
How do you notice when something is changing at thyssenkrupp?
Today, it is more important than ever to act flexibly as a company and to design processes and structures accordingly. thyssenkrupp has accepted the challenges of our time and is becoming increasingly digital, lean and focused. We notice this, in particular, through the introduction of new systems and tools, as well as necessary restructuring within thyssenkrupp.
A good example is the implementation of the holistic reorganisation concept “Steering 2.0”, which includes the introduction of a matrix organisation at thyssenkrupp Steering. Here, the operating units are the “drivers of business” as a first dimension. They are responsible for the successful implementation of customer projects. The second dimension in the matrix is formed by the functional areas, which provide resources and technical solutions as “solution providers”. For my organisational scope, this means, in purely practical terms, that, as a central point of contact for the topic of “Manufacturing Testing”, we contribute to the harmonisation and standardisation of processes and products, and can thus make a contribution to the efficient processing of customer projects.
How important is the overarching form of cooperation with different departments/divisions?
Only through effective cooperation between the most diverse organisational units and the right mindset will “engineering. tomorrow” succeed, as per our slogan “engineering. tomorrow. together”. This “together” is simply a must. Just how well this cooperation works depends on a wide variety of factors. In my view, one of the most important factors is the leaders, who have to welcome and promote this spirit of cooperation themselves. It is elementary to share the knowledge of an organisational unit, or to let colleagues participate in it. Products and processes tend to become more complex over time, and require a broad range of expertise. It is no longer possible for one team, let alone one employee or leader, to know everything. This is where it becomes particularly clear that we as #GENERATIONTK can achieve great things by working together.