Zeiss zooms into fo­cus with a rapid growth of rev­enues

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By DUJUAN in Oberkochen, Ger­many dujuan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Zeiss’ pres­i­dent of South Korea, France and China, Max­i­m­il­ian Fo­erst, has proved him­self as an ef­fec­tive leader by pre­sid­ing over a pe­riod of rapid rev­enue growth in all those re­gions dur­ing his ten­ure.

China was the sixth big­gest mar­ket for Zeiss when Fo­erst came­toChina eight years ago and now it’s the third big­gest mar­ket for the com­pany. He mod­estly at­trib­uted their suc­cess to those com­pa­nies al­ways pro­vid­ing in­no­va­tive prod­ucts and out­per­form­ing the com­peti­tors.

“China, by far, is the most dy­namic mar­ket for Zeiss. Even though the coun­try is see­ing a slow­down in the econ­omy, there is still sub­stan­tial growth po­ten­tial,” said Fo­erst.

He said he be­lieves that a healthy econ­omy can­not keep a dou­ble-digit growth in the long run and the re­form China is un­der­tak­ing cur­rently is good for its sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. “China can­not al­ways rely on cheap la­bor to com­pete with for­eign coun­ter­parts even though the la­bor ad­van­tage has helped the coun­try’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the past,” he said.

“Even­tu­ally, the coun­try needs to strengthen in­no­va­tion, which is what the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is en­cour­ag­ing right now.”

The word “in­no­va­tion” is not new for the Oberkochen­head­quar­tered Ger­man com­pany which fo­cuses on op­tics-re­lated re­search and man­u­fac­tur­ing. “Our com­pany is built on in­no­va­tion,” said Fo­erst. Up to 11 per­cent of the com­pany’s em­ploy­ees are work­ing in R&D and more than half a bil­lion euros ($544 mil­lion) is in­vested in the sec­tor an­nu­ally.

In China, it’s the same. “We val­ued in­no­va­tion a lot since the com­pany’s es­tab­lish­ment,” said Fo­erst.

“To be closer to our cus­tomers, Max­i­m­il­ian Fo­erst, we es­tab­lished our China in­no­va­tion cen­ter in 2012 in Shanghai. Cur­rently, there are 50 en­gi­neers, of whom 98 per­cent are Chi­nese and fo­cus­ing on prod­ucts for ex­pand­ing the Med­i­cal and Mi­croscopy mar­kets,” he said.

“Chi­nese en­gi­neers bring their un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal mar­ket re­quire­ments and the po­ten­tial of the lo­cal sup­ply chain. We hire peo­ple in the cen­ter who can turn in­no­va­tive ideas into cus­tomer-ori­ented prod­ucts,” he added.

“I try to help our em­ploy­ees re­al­ize their ideas in the com­pany and pro­vide them with the sup­port to do so,” said Fo­erst. “We do not tell them ex­actly what to do, as in this way they have the free­dom to be in­no­va­tive in achiev­ing their tar­gets. We re­cruit em­ploy­ees who like this type of en­vi­ron­ment, to en­able both the­com­pany and the em­ploy­ees to be more suc­cess­ful at the same time.”

In Zeiss’ 170 year’s his­tory, it has con­trib­uted to the gen­eral ad­vance of sci­en­tific devel­op­ment by of­fer­ing not only high-qual­ity mi­cro­scopes but in­no­va­tion in many other ar­eas. As Zeiss has con­tin­ued to forge its deep re­la­tion­ship with progress, Fo­erst him­self has had a deep re­la­tion with the com­pany. He joined the com­pany as project man­ager of Zeiss Group In­ter­nal Con­sul­tant in Ger­many in 1995 and spent more than 21 years with the com­pany in dif­fer­ent busi­ness units and re­gional mar­kets.

He said there are three main fac­tors that de­ter­mine busi­ness suc­cess. “These are how you train peo­ple, how you fo­cus on peo­ple and how you in­ter­act with your cus­tomers. All the suc­cess we achieved in China has re­lated to how we in­vested in our team to en­able them to bet­ter sup­por­t­and­in­ter­act with our cus­tomers,” he said.

Fac­ing fierce com­pe­ti­tion for skilled em­ploy­ees in the mar­ket, Zeiss none­the­less has a much lower em­ployee turnover rate com­pared with the av­er­age.

Many peo­ple in Zeiss Ger­many have been work­ing in the­com­pany for over30years. The­com­pany’s global em­ployee turnover is as low as 4 per­cent. In Shanghai where Zeiss China’s head­quar­ter is lo­cated, the city’s an­nual em­ployee turnover rate is 17 per­cent while Zeiss China’s turnover fig­ure is just 7 per­cent.

“Peo­ple stay with us be­cause they see our com­pany and their per­sonal suc­cess in the fu­ture,” said Fo­erst. “We are a very sta­ble com­pany with sta­ble man­age­ment.”

Zeiss is not pub­licly listed andtheZeiss foun­da­tion con­trols the com­pany, which has given it an ad­van­tage for long-term plan­ning and in­vest­ment in high-end tech­nolo­gies, which may not al­ways be con­ducive to short­term profit re­turns.

Even so, Zeiss is in fact a very prof­itable com­pany. For the first six months of the 2015/2016 fis­cal year toMarch 31, the com­pany re­al­ized a 5 per­cent year-on-year rev­enue in­crease to 2.3 bil­lion euros, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

Fo­erst said his group will keep in­vest­ing heav­ily in China, fo­cus­ing on ar­eas that the lo­cal mar­ket needs. The com­pany has ma­jor busi­ness seg­ments in­clud­ing semi­con­duc­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing, in­dus­trial metrol­ogy, mi­cro­scopes, med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy and vi­sion care.

China, by far, is the most dy­namic mar­ket for Zeiss.”

Zeiss’ pres­i­dent of South Korea, France and China

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.