Hannover Messe’s WomenPower Career Congress - Shaping a sustainable world
16 April 2021
Hannover Messe, the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology, has been taking place this week and Orgalim President Rada Rodriguez was invited to speak at the Messe’s WomenPower Career Congress, in a panel discussion on the role of the industry, in which she is a leader, in Shaping a Sustainable World. We sat down with her in the sidelines of the event, to ask her opinion on some of the questions raised.
On whether the pandemic has been a wake-up call to restart the economy in a way that is more sustainable and makes companies more resilient:
If I may be a little provocative, I don't see the pandemic so much as a wake-up call for the economy to restart but rather as a revelator of social and economic problems that we have had for many years and that we in the electronics industry have long been addressing. Take, for example, the fact that we in Germany are behind other countries in terms of the digitalisation of the public sector. Or that we need a better adaptation of education to the needs of industry. Or that the decarbonisation of industry requires more electricity and not less and that today we do not have a robust, economical and sustainable solution.
Moreover, I already see the electronics industry in Germany, and in Europe, as resilient. First of all, because it is a global industry, so it can absorb slowdowns in one region with growth elsewhere. Secondly, because it is an industry that is driving the green and digital transformation forward – both in its own sector, and as an important enabler in other sectors as well. Digitalisation is enabling new business models that build in service and predictive maintenance, and so on. This change from product only to product and service leads to more resilience and more stable revenues, even when the demand for products and solutions decreases.
On whether companies shy away from taking steps towards greater sustainability economies because they fear they will no longer competitive:
I think we have to differentiate between sustainability driven by competition and sustainability driven by a disproportionate set of rules. Our industries in Europe are in close competition with other regions, especially China and the USA and that is nothing new. We have always been able to keep pace with innovation. In fact, when it comes to Industry 4.0, 16 of that top 25 countries that have smart factories are European. In a smart factory, the resource efficiency (energy, water and raw materials) is constantly optimised, which is a direct competitive advantage. I don’t think companies don't see this competitive advantage. But it does require investment and know-how, and more could actually be done here to promote the transformation, especially in medium-sized businesses.
Where we have to be careful is when the sustainability requirements lead to a deep gap between Germany and Europe on one side and the rest of the world on the other. If a level playing field is not ensured here, then we as a society have lost. We are a very progressive industry and we see clear business opportunities in the circular economy, for example. To do this, however, the legal framework must follow the principles of ‘Better Regulation, which means transparency, clear responsibility, consistency and, above all, proportionality. The environmental benefit must be demonstrably greater than the effort. If that's not the case, then I don't think public incentives will help either.
On how the technology industries attract employees who are increasingly looking for a company that is leading on sustainability:
Of course, it is an advantage to work in a future-oriented industry and our industry is electric, digital, sustainable and global and that offers enormous development opportunities for all employees. I think you identify yourself, not with the products, but with the company's values. If the corporate culture corresponds to the ‘Zeitgeist’ then you will always attract and retain good employees. In addition to a future-oriented portfolio, this includes above all things like flexibility, diversity, tolerance, team spirit, flat organisational structures and development opportunities.
On what contribution each person can make in their company to shape a sustainable future?
As a woman in the electronics industry, you should be confident. We make an important contribution not only as experts in the company but also in shaping the corporate culture. It is not easy to be confident as a minority (no matter which one) and I know that from my own experience. But if you have a goal then you should consistently pursue it and I hope that many women are inspired by our vision of the future and follow us in technical professions. This is how we are shaping a more sustainable future for everyone.