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Interview: „Be persistent and learn out of failures"

As CPO of the international technology group Körber, Michael Stietz has shaped the industry for many years. In an interview with the career portal BME-JobSource, the manager explains how he did his first career steps and how young talents are still inspiring him. BME-JobSource asked the questions.
Veröffentlicht am 24.07.2020

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Foto: Michael Stietz

CAREER PATH

Mr Stietz, first of all thank you very much for your time and agreeing to the interview. As a first step, would you be so kind and present yourself briefly? What are the primary responsibilities of your position?

Michael Stietz: Thanks for the interview opportunity. I’m 41 years old, based in Hamburg, Germany and responsible for the procurement and supply chain management at Körber AG. I’ve been with Körber since 2016. And I have worked in procurement and supply chain functions for more than 15 years.

What do you like most about your job as Chief Procurement Officer?

I like most that we can really contribute to our group-wide success. Procurement and supply chain management can be a great lever if we utilize our resources in the right way. For example, our community can support the development of new products and services, find the right suppliers, safe money and cash, increase flexibility and much more.

What is your favourite commodity group and why?

We have hundreds of different commodity groups and all of them are important.

From which experience, even negative, did you learn most as a young professional? Was there also a misstep?

As I started in procurement, I learned quite fast that you have to ask the right questions again and again. And that the answer “no” is not always a “no”. You have to be persistent and for sure you should learn out of the failures.

What is the biggest challenge in your current role?

Combining and conveying the different interests and stakeholders is one of the major challenges.

What was the subject of your first negotiation? How do you remember it?

It was a negotiation for a frame work agreement with a large temporary labour supplier. He had never accepted such an agreement. After the first meeting and three follow up’s he signed the contract that provided us with real improvements. After several years working together, he told me that my persistency impressed him. It was a real first lesson: Never give up and supplier relationships are one of the major keys for success.

Were there any important mentors or influencers in your life that led you to your current position?

Of course, without my fantastic family, friends, mentors and bosses over the last two decades I would probably not be in this position. It’s always important that you work and live in an environment with great leaders, partners, colleagues and friends which support, as well as challenge you. Nothing is for free, but with hard work, an open mind and a strong network you can achieve a lot.

What makes a good procurement manager?

A procurement manager today should have interests in different dimensions. He or she should be able to handle technical requirements, legal questions as well as financial topics. He/she should also be a strong communicator with the ability to create sustainable networks and relationships.

CAREER ADVICE

It has been more than 15 years since you graduated from university. Many things have changed since then. When you look around today, what is most surprising to you?

Definitely the case that in some companies procurement and supply chain management is still not on the top-agenda. In addition most of the companies spend more than 40% for external partners and it is so important that we tackle this in a professional manner. That should be reflected within our educational landscape. There are for example only a few university chairs for procurement and supply chain management in Europe. Let’s change that! - Because we need the young professionals!

What do you hope for from the young generation of managers now coming out of university? What impulses can the young generation provide?

First I hope that some of them will join the procurement and supply chain community. Secondly, that they will challenge the establishment and not tire from this. We need to question the status quo and that will only happen if we have different and creative mind-sets around us.

Which qualities do you value most in your young team members?

Open mindset, no fear to ask questions, to be persistent and try out different approaches.

What advice would you give a young professional starting out in her or his career?

Look for mentors who support your potential and encourage your further development. Furthermore, in my experience it is not important that a company is known worldwide or has a strong brand image, you can quickly learn a lot, especially in small and medium-sized companies, and make greater developmental leaps. And of course: Have fun with what you do!

What is one mistake you frequently witness young leaders making?

Failures are part of the game. And that’s ok!

Please complete the following sentence. If I were not purchasing manager, I would be...

a surgeon.

What do you like to buy most in your private life?

Interesting and good books.

Thank you for the interview.

Michael Stietz
Körber AG
Senior Vice President & Chief Procurement Officer

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