5 Minutes with: Klaus Staubitzer, CPO, Siemens

Klaus Staubitzer, Chief Procurement Officer, Siemens discusses the moment digital transformation clicked, procurement’s shifting role, and lockdown hobbies

Who are you and what do you do? 

I’m Klaus Staubitzer, the Chief Procurement Officer at Siemens. I’ve had many different roles within the company over more than 25 years, but today, along with the many other folks in what we call the Siemens Supply Chain Ecosystem, we manage more than €40bn in annual spend. It’s a massive amount of spend and we do our utmost to make the most of it, which is very interesting, and very, very challenging at the moment. 

What are the big questions occupying you professional time? 

At the moment we have the obvious challenge of getting all the materials and all the services that we need on site, due to the global availability issue that we’re all experiencing. But aside from this, the big challenge is how can we transform our function from a pure cost-cutter into a value-add orchestrator. Where is our next north star? 

Getting the cheapest price is no longer the best thing we can gain out of having the huge purchasing volume that we have; there are many other different facets we have to focus on. That means productivity is a given, quality and availability are other facets, and on top of that, using the power of our suppliers’ innovation is also something we have to focus on. The real discipline is to find the right balance in between all those - and of course sustainability is the outcome of how we manage that transformation from cost to value-add.

What are the biggest challenges you are facing? 

Really this is a question of both challenge and opportunity. If I think back to 2017, some of our board members returned from the World Economic Forum, energised and excited that all the technical systems we needed for our digital transformation already existed. Great, but that was never really the limiting factor. 

The question people always asked me is what is the Siemens master plan? And that was the big challenge. At that time, I thought that maybe it was impossible to define what our big DT master plan was. But then a trainee approached me and said, “Why don’t we try this differently?” What he meant was that instead of having a centralised, top-down approach that could take years to implement, why don’t we turn the process around and try to start a bottom-up process. And that's what we did. 

We asked a bunch of people at that point in time how we could make their life and their responsibilities easier. We had 500 people meet regularly to discuss these topics and that became the key ingredient for us to scale up our transformation, make it transparent and push past these ‘proof of concept’ stages. 

What is your personal mantra? 

Not really a mantra, but a good way to think: don’t work harder, act smarter. A lot of people work like hell everyday, but what’s their impact? If you always think about the impact you have on an organisation, you’re much more valuable. And of course, nobody’s perfect, because we’re all human, and we all say we can take on all of these tasks, when in reality that’s absolutely not true. Again, it’s about this bottom up approach for me, building on each other’s perceptions, and creating an added value. And if people are self motivated, self organised, then they are motivated to work towards the next level. 

What can you not live without? 

For the past 18 months, like many people, I’ve been working from the home office. It became so relevant for me to find some sort of sport or activity to find a bit of balance and refresh my batteries so that I’m ready to come back and do it the next day. So for me, it was something as simple as rope jumping. My son pointed out I can do it everyday, anywhere, and all I need is a rope. Starting it out it was a challenge - it’s not so easy when you’re not 25 years old - but it’s a small thing I can try and get better at everyday. 


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