Have you met Alexander Ziehe?
From time to time we interview people from the German Centre network. We want to learn who they are and drill down on their dedication and commitment towards the German Centres.
Just a year ago, Alexander Ziehe moved to Singapore to head Viessmann’s Southeast Asia and Oceania activities with its offices in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and – coming soon – in Melbourne. Before relocating to Singapore, he spent a few years in China since 2016, where he first complemented his studies with the DAAD postgraduate programme, and later joined the Allianz Beijing Representative Office, Moving forward, he then took the position as Business Development Manager for Viessmann in Beijing and Shanghai. Founded in 1917, the family business Viessmann today has more than 20 production divisions in 12 countries, subsidiaries and representations in over 70 countries and 120 sales offices around the world.
Dear Alex, what do you like most about your job?
I love people and diverse personalities, I love cultures and I love travelling. Having the responsibility for diverse teams in very different countries is really a privilege. On the one hand there are the developed markets as in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand - clear, transparent and well organized. On the other hand, there are emerging markets like Indonesia or Vietnam - quite often chaotic, confusing and always good for a surprise. This varietey in dealing with my team, our customers and in doing a successful business, is a great experience which I appreciate every day.
Tell us about Viessmann and your activities in Southeast Asia.
In Germany, Viessmann is well-known as a heating manufacturer. However, in the meantime we cover a comprehensive range of solutions regarding heating, ventilation and cooling, based on a big variety of energy ressources like solar power, geothermal or wind energy. We also provide technologies for air and water purification of which we have recognized a major demand, especially here in Southeast Asia. In addition to that we also deliver safety applications, for example to avoid hazardous interferences between water and electricity while showering.
Our vision at Viessmann is: “We create living spaces for generations to come”. This vision drives our product development, our market strategy, our people and office strategy. And it implies a consequent customer focus: What’s their point of view, what are their pain points and needs? We adapt our products and concepts, based on user testing and feedbacks. That’s how we proceed to offer the right solution for the respective customers which is an ongoing journey and process.
Why did you decide for the German Centre as your location in Singapore?
There are several reasons. In the German Centre, there are lot of stakeholders whom we need for our journey, such as the AHK. It is easy and comfortable to catch up with business partners and other companies here in the building. A lot of B2B events happen here, workshops, as well as professional events, where you can connect with others. This whole community aspect makes it very comfortable. The location of the German Centre in the International Business Park might not be the most central location, but the lower rental rates accommodate with our P&L targets. Another advantage is the inhouse infrastructure, including the German Centre technical team that make shipping goods and receiving shipments very easy, as they are very pragmatic and supporting. Flexibility of the building is also a big plus, there is always the opportunity to grow and adapt the office size. The quality of the building is better than in comparable buildings and just right, neither over the top, nor low-key.
An important brand driver, especially for the end-consumer market, is the address “German Centre”. This automatically communicates that we are a German company and “Made in Germany” is a quality seal for our target audience. I am quite happy here!
Which advice would you give a German company that is planning to gain a foothold in Southeast Asia?
I would give three pieces of advices: Frst, scout the user needs! Does your product fit into the market or does it need adaption? Is the price appropriate or in other words: Do I offer a true solution for the user for the market for the right pricing segment? My second advice, when it comes to execution: Don’t do it solely with people without Asia experience! You need one person in your leadership team that acts as bridge between your German headquater and the local entities. This person is also your key-position to make the local employees part of the bridge which means to form a strong corporate culture and to retain employees in the long term. And third: be more agile here in Asia. Don’t plan 200% like you would do in Germany. Plan 80% - and be flexible, creative and improve on the way to reach your business targets.
Do you have a role model?
I am inspired by “the old” sailors like Magellan, Columbus or Cook. They had a vision, they wanted to find something new and they had the will to take the risk to travel in a wooden nutshell over an uncalulable ocean. In the end, they succeeded, because they were driven by the result.
What would you change if you could govern for one day?
I would return to less noisy discussions. To focus on arguments and facts. And thus stop the current impression that the loudest one is always winning.