Interview with Jürgen Schachler
Jürgen Schachler assumed the role of Aurubis AG Executive Board Chairman on July 1, 2016. The 62-year-old manager comes from the steel sector and worked for the steel group ArcelorMittal for many years. He has extensive management experience and most recently oversaw ArcelorMittal’s flat product line in southwest Europe with 10,000 employees.
Mr. Schachler, the post of Aurubis Executive Board Chairman was vacant for a while, so in the interim Dr. Drouven from the Supervisory Board stepped in, and later Mr. Faust from the Aurubis Executive Board. How did Aurubis find you?
An HR consultant established contact initially. The non-ferrous metals industry is relatively small, and the search for a suitable manager quickly reaches its limits based on that fact alone. So it makes sense to look to the steel industry, which, despite all the differences, is also a metal sector. And that’s where they found me.
It’s the first time that the position of Executive Board Chairman has been filled by someone from outside the company. Does this provide a special kind of motivation for you?
I can’t deny that it does. In my new job, I can certainly contribute a great deal of experience from my long career, the international business and my involvement with many nations and employees in a global company. What I find especially exciting about this new role is that the possibilities for shaping things are different in a company in the copper industry than they were in my earlier work in steel – an industry driven by circumstances that can’t be controlled. Aurubis is a company with a solid business model, a leading market position and healthy corporate development. The 150-year history speaks for itself. However, a new phase begins for Aurubis with this anniversary – and in times that aren’t exactly calm. We have to adjust to this and make the Group even more crisis-proof and fit for the future. There is potential for this in many areas.
That sounds like a lot of work. Do you have any particular focal points for this process?
I’ve now been in the company for a good half-year and have had many discussions during this period that have helped me get to know people better and gain a good overview. I’ve seen many positive approaches and a strategy that, in my opinion, makes a lot of sense. Nevertheless, I think that previously established strategies shouldn’t be viewed as guidelines that are set in stone but should be critically assessed and questioned again and again as they are implemented. This can’t be done by one person from above but only works in a controlled process involving different levels and divisions. This process started in the fall and is expected to deliver initial results in spring 2017. Furthermore, we have a number of other projects in the company that tangibly serve to make Aurubis even more crisis-proof. This report includes a few details about these projects.
“We have to make the Group even more crisis-proof and fit for the future. There is potential for this in many areas.” – Jürgen Schachler
So you want to make the company even more successful. What is needed to achieve that?
First and foremost, our employees. I’ve already spoken with many of them, and not just at the headquarters in Hamburg. I’ve been able to form an idea of employees’ ways of thinking and their views at the other sites as well. Furthermore, we’ve started a group-wide employee survey that should provide us with indications about the “health” of the organization. When I talk about employees as a success factor, I think about their qualifications, their motivation. Do I sense some kind of enthusiasm for the work that they do? What are the attitudes towards management and collaboration within the company? Appreciative, cooperative? And above all: Do I see a willingness to learn with the goal of improving the situation? If this is the case, then success should be attainable.
And you yourself? How do you view yourself in this process?
I rarely take extreme positions. Instead, I like to build bridges and seek out direct contact with people. I enjoy listening, balancing ideas and trying in discussions to collaborate and establish a common position from different opinions. I’m a strong advocate of teamwork and ultimately think that it is more successful than an “every man for himself” mentality.
Mr. Schachler, Aurubis is a stock corporation and the shares are listed on the German stock index MDAX. Would you invest in Aurubis shares even if you weren’t Aurubis’ CEO?
When I introduced myself at the last Annual General Meeting, I mentioned that I had already invested in Aurubis shares before my initial contact with the HR consultant. At that time, the shares fit into my investing strategy, which, among other things, is focused on shareholding in companies that have a solid business model and a real history. This was true of Aurubis then, and it still applies today.
“I enjoy listening, balancing ideas and trying in discussions to collaborate and establish a common position from different opinions.”
– Jürgen Schachler