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Ronnie Leten’s high five

As President and CEO of the Atlas Copco Group, Ronnie Leten certainly has reason to be a happy man.

Profits are at record levels and sales are growing, but is he satisfied?
“Never,” he says in an interview with Achieve. These are Ronnie Leten’s high five: important issues related to sustainable productivity where he wants everyone in the organization to outdo their previous achievements.

First of all, why is sustainable productivity important?
It’s about our long-term vision of growth: the growth of our company and the growth of our customers. How can we achieve sustainable, profitable growth if we don’t keep innovating to improve our products, or if we don’t show a long-term commitment to developing in each market? This is why say that I am happy, but I am not satisfied – because there is always a better way. If we can become better at diversity, competence development, innovation, environmental issues and at putting the customer first, we will achieve sustainable productivity.

Let’s take them one by one. tell us about what Atlas Copco has achieved and how can we do better in terms of:

1. Diversity
let me start off with a question: Who knows the Indian market best? Me – a Belgian – or a person from India? The easiest place to grow is your home market, so we should make China and India our home markets! I am proud that there are 40 nationalities among our 323 top managers. on the other hand, more than two thirds of the managers are from North America or Europe, while less than half of orders received are generated in these regions. We also don’t have enough women in leading positions. These are signs that we probably aren’t recruiting from the full pool of talent.

Ronnie Leten
Photo: Atlas Copco

2. CompetenCe development
I believe we learn best by doing, by being challenged. We have some work to do to ensure that everybody in the organization gets this kind of exposure, especially from the customers. Good competence development in this respect comes from having internal mobility; people moving between jobs in various business areas, types of positions and different countries. Our internal job market, where all available jobs are announced, is an important means to this end. Competence development will help us become stronger in the emerging markets and better at innovation. We need formal training methods as well. An important step is that we are building a common platform for all kinds of e-learning courses across the group.

3. InnovatIon
Innovation should be seen as the umbrella subject for everything we do. It’s our driver for success. We should be at the forefront when it comes to processes, products, services, supporting functions, the set-up of our customer centers and our factories. One key is working closely with our partners – customers as well as suppliers. i also come back to competence development: if our talented and energetic people get to be challenged by the customers, it will really drive innovation. It wouldn’t be fair to say we are not good at innovation, but we can definitely get better. My vision is for Atlas Copco to foster such a strong culture of open innovation that we attract the most brilliant people; that universities, inventors and start-up companies approach us with their ideas.

4. The envIronment
Environmental concerns are one of the strongest drivers for innovation in the company today, and we have to be innovative in order to reduce our own impact on the environment. This is the most obvious example of where our business opportunities go hand in hand with our desire to contribute to more sustainable development. If you misuse electricity, you endanger the environment, but you also misuse your economic resources. We are committed to increasing our customers’ energy efficiency by 20% by the year 2020, as well as reducing our own carbon dioxide emissions by 20% in the same period of time, so clearly we have a lot of challenges ahead to reach these goals.

5. PuttIng the customer fIrst
We are, and have been for a long time, a product-driven, customer-focused company. This will not change, but we need to become better at quickly identifying the needs of our customers so we can continuously offer new products that add value. Our organization should reflect this. As we now have dedicated business areas for construction and mining, and a sharper focus in the compressor business, we are able to provide a stronger offering for each customer segment. We have focused service operations for all businesses, which will increase our customer contact and make it easier to offer even better solutions. Everyone at Atlas Copco, from the backoffice functions to the factory floor and the sales people, need to put the customer first. That is our path to growth.

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