This question has often been debated. At times silently in solace and in thought. Other times less subtle, verbally – loud. A question often asked. Never truly answered.
In the companies I have been associated with it has often been a question posed during managerial and board meetings. Strategic in nature. A question equally inwardly directed as it was outwardly focused. Almost if the answer will come from looking at others.
At times it had become a question that reverberated through the corridors, it had been a topic on the shop floor, in meetings with trade unions, in the office canteens, at coffee machines and even in the toilets. It had no longer become a topic only debated by executive management.
The answer also contained reference to the ownership and shareholders. The investment portfolio. The capital employed. Their credit worthiness, the international standing and reputation. The links to the political decision makers.
The composition of the Board and the Board members nominated or appointed. The debate, at times, also included and made reference to those nominated as Non-executive Board members. The dedication of the Board members. The regularity of their meetings and the topics on the agenda. Their experience, their insight, their contacts, and their diversity. Their ability to focus on strategic issues and the priorities assigned to topics like sustainability, equality or diversity.
The executive management teams. The credentials and integrity of the CEO. The ability to both lead and inspire. Their ability of the management team to work as a team, to strategize, interpret market conditions correctly and ensure new markets, new customers sales growth and keep cost low. The corporate or business development strategy. The ability to inspire the customer base with products that exceed the expectations of the customer base.
The blue-collar workers. That arrives, in contrast to the executive management for work on foot, bicycles or public transport. Work double shifts when required and take pride in the product rather than the financial statements, balance sheet and profit and loss account. The buildings, the land or property of even the equipment?
Where does the company end and the legacy start? The turbulence in the transformer manufacturing industry has in recent months seen the re-emergence of Pauwels and Ganz Transformers. Old, trusted brand names. Companies with a substantial legacy. The first transformer in the world was designed after all at the Ganz factory in 1884.
The conclusion may not lay in the ownership, not the executive management, the short or medium strategy and certainly not in the logo, the buildings, the equipment, and the land. They are, in the greater scheme of things, significantly important.
Perhaps the conclusion and answer to the question what makes a company a great company and what builds a legacy does not lay in any of the aforementioned. Perhaps it lies in the hearts and souls, the dedication and commitment, the work ethic, the dreams and the inspirations of the people – past, present and future consciously busy with the thought that we want to leave something better behind.
About the Author:
Chris Gerber is a senior transformer industry executive director and board member. He is the former CEO of ETD Transformers in the Czech Republic and has worked for amongst others the SGB SMIT Group as well as CG Power SYSTEMS. He is currently a member of the Virtual Advisory Board group. In his career he worked for and cooperated with some of the most noticeable transformer utilities in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. His managerial experience working for both power utilities as well as transformer and switchgear manufacturers enables him to offer a unique reflection on the global transformer industry and the challenges it faces. He is a former university lecturer in business management and holds degrees from the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and the VUB in Brussels, Belgium. He is also the founder and owner of Genesiss Consulting and Advisory services, a Belgium based consulting company offering management consultancy services to largely the transformer and switchgear manufacturing industry. He is also a Brand Ambassador & Advisor at Power Technology Research.
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