Laser System

One Look Back and Two Looks Ahead

Author: Martin Stillger

Stay healthy! The 2020 mantra now already at the beginning of an article? A clear yes! Because with a view to the current developments, these two simple words cannot be beaten in their relevance – for each and every one of us and for society as a whole. SARS-CoV-2 will go down in history as a virus that abruptly and sustainably changed the world in 2020. It literally brought our real lives to a halt at times and rapidly accelerated our digital lives from one moment to the next.  

One look back...

When I started as the Chairman of the Executive Board at thyssenkrupp Materials Services just over a year ago, we couldn't possibly foresee what was to come. I don't want to post a classic review of this year – the very title of this article suggests that. The bitter KPIs of the last fiscal year have long been on the table.

The fact is, we were far from meeting our quantitative targets this year. This is because hardly any cars left the production line, and aircrafts the runway. Of course, that's a very brief description of the situation. Because even before Corona, our business was suffering due to trade barriers, material price fluctuations, volatile markets. The economic conditions were anything but rosy. With Corona, however, uncertainty as a factor has assumed unprecedented proportions. Nevertheless, Materials Services did not stand still. We rolled up our sleeves and got down to work wherever we could make a difference on our own.

Protecting the health of our round about 20,000 colleagues worldwide was and remains our top priority. At the same time, we have pushed ahead our future strategy "Materials as a Service" (MaaS): We have started to restructure our organization. This means, for example, we have created a much more agile administration at headquarters which gives the operating units much more freedom, much more responsibility and at the same time precisely the support they need to make the service-oriented materials business the spearhead of our business of tomorrow. To achieve this focus, we unfortunately also had to part with units – not an easy step. We launched New Work & Learning programs to give our employees the best possible support on our "Mission to MaaS".

We set benchmarks in qualitative customer work, received awards for our performance and expertise in a wide range of areas, and were able to take cooperation with important customers to the next level despite the difficult market outlook.

In short: 2020 was tough but in many aspects pointed the way for Materials Services.

Materials Services Chairman, Martin Stillger
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Two looks ahead...

Even though it is becoming increasingly likely that we will be able to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 next year: The uncertainties and challenges will still accompany us in 2021. So what can you expect from Materials Services? And what lessons do we learn from times like these for the future?

 1. What Lies Ahead? The Next Level of our Transformation!

Our goal is clear: We want to offer our customers the best and most sustainable service solutions in the materials market. And as the largest mill-independent materials trader and service provider in the Western world, we are ideally placed to design, implement, and manage highly complex supply chains.

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We will therefore continue our transformation at full speed: We will focus on our core businesses and our core markets, optimize our network of locations accordingly, and develop new intelligent services around the supply chain. We are rethinking the service business for the future.

We will shape this process together with our team and our customers. After all, both are crucial to our success. So, more than ever, we will gather feedback from our colleagues via regular pulse checks and equip them for the new tasks ahead. And we will dive even deeper into our customers' businesses to understand even better what they need and what they are missing, so that they can focus exclusively on just that.

In all that we do, we want to take you with us. We will not only document our transformation story but also talk about it much more externally. Next year, the "MXperience" will start...

2. And what Lessons Do We Learn? The One of a New Awareness!

How do you deal with an uncertainty that is as overarching and fundamental as it is right now? And how can we plan at all in times like this? It is certainly worthwhile to think about this constructively, without fear, and not rushed and driven by everyday life, during the upcoming Christmas break.

In my last article I stated that for me there is no question that one must accept brutal facts and then face them with all the more courageous decisions. I think that in business life one should even go one step ahead and confront oneself regularly and relentlessly already with brutal questions. Regarding some matters, we're not bad at this today. So far, our supply chains have proven to be crisis-proof.

Take care! And: Stay healthy! (Currently there are just no more appropriate wishes than that.)