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Do you think general managers know it all? Think again!

Imagine your career went great so far. You became an expert in your field. You're really good at your job, knowing what to do, when to do and how to lead and motivate your teams. And most of all, you love your job. But then, you're given the opportunity to become General Manager. And, although tremendously flattering, this new role will for sure take you out of your comfort zone. You need to have a much broader understanding of the overall business and leave your previous "expert in one area" role. So, what to do?

Herbert Bauer, GM in Austria, decided to take an unorthodox way to expand his knowledge and used our internal platform "Opportunity Marketplace" to seek support and find experts for an Integrated Competitive Supply Chain (ICSC) knowledge-exchange. We met him to ask about his experience with Opportunity Marketplace.

Opportunity Marketplace logo and a man and a woman smiling Opportunity Marketplace logo and a man and a woman smiling

Herbert, you have a lot of experience and were appointed GM of Austria in September 2020. Would you say a GM needs to know everything?

Herbert: No, that’s why I am glad to have such a strong and empowered team. However, it is important to figure out what you need to know and who can help you understand these things. Of course, before you start as GM, you reflect and learn about what you don´t know. It´s part of the onboarding process.

What was it that you wanted to know? 

Herbert: Regarding employees, ICSC is our biggest function in Austria with a strong impact on our performance. I knew the basics, but I wanted to deep dive further, connect with the team and get their views on what works well and what can be improved. I appreciate it a lot that the operational experts in ICSC have volunteered and shared their insights with me.

That leads to our next question: You could have asked managers to tell you everything you need to know or appoint people to talk to you. But you posted a project on Opportunity Marketplace instead. What motivated you to take this not so usual approach?

Herbert: I am convinced that we have a lot of know-how and competencies within the operational teams, but due to the size of the team and the organizational structure, we´re not yet leveraging this know-how enough. I wanted to make sure everyone in ICSC felt invited to help me understand what I didn´t know yet regardless of their job title.

Team picture Austria_final Team picture Austria_final

Shortly after you posted your project more than 10 ICSC colleagues applied, all with very different experience. Did you expect such a variety? 

Herbert: No, the fact that so many offered their help, was a surprise – and after the first sessions more and more colleagues raised their hands. I assumed that less and rather senior people would apply, but I was amazed by how many newcomers and young talents took the opportunity. This created a great mix of perspectives and ideas for improvement and growth.

Georg Unteregger

Very relaxed and insightful 1,5 hours discussing challenges in manufacturing and logistics finance. We talked about new ideas and how other companies deal with similar issues. The conversation led to a lot of new insights on both sides.

Georg Unteregger Supply Chain Finance Manager

Your agenda is very busy, how did you manage to make time for the calls and did you meet everybody? 

Herbert: If somebody is volunteering to help you, you should be grateful and make the time! Meeting them in 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 conversations made a huge difference and was a great experience. And it was especially important to me to meet them all since our plant Edelstal is 45 mins away from the office and I knew even when we don´t work from home anymore, our paths won´t cross just like that. I am glad they took the time to meet and talk to me about their work. They were a huge help.

What did you learn during the calls? 

Herbert: Speaking to them directly, in addition to our standard reporting routines with the ICSC Lead Team, helped to surface even more topics and opportunities than initially thought. I asked everyone to present their area of ​​responsibility and wanted to know what they are particularly proud of and especially what can be done better. Sometimes we would just talk, use a live demo or a PowerPoint presentation, the whole range. But what all of them had in common: quality was consistently great and a relaxed atmosphere allowed them to be very open! When we discussed areas for improvement, they talked about topics which would not necessarily be on the priority list of their managers but it was important to hear this topics. I am glad that some of them we could almost immediately turn into quick wins. And there were other conversations not related to ICSC as well which I found very good and insightful too.

Michael Simecsek

A very good opportunity to clarify engineering stereotypes, it´s way more than drawings and fixing machines. I am glad I had the chance to explain the importance of engineering to Herbert.

Michael Simecsek Engineering Manager (Edelstal)

What do you think could work well for Austria?

Herbert: There are various examples where we could benefit from the know-how and experiences of the other countries while at the same time we could offer great support in specific areas. I think it’s important to make it clear what you are looking for and what the scope of your project or request is. With this clarity, you will make it easy for others to offer support and also reflect on their capacities. There is such a richness of knowledge and experience in our company and the platform is a great enabler to leverage this even better going forward.

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So, if you've got a drive to succeed, a willingness to learn and a winning spirit, why not join us?