International Wilo Industry Conference 2022
Oliver Hermes during his lecture in front of around 200 guests. (Image source: WILO SE)
The approximately 200 guests included Edna Schöne, Member of the Board of Euler Hermes, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, President and CEO of Schneider Electric, and H.E. Arif Havas Oegroseno, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, and spokesperson for all ASEAN embassies in Germany, as well as international executives of the Wilo Group. Together with the President & CEO of the Wilo Group, Oliver Hermes, the participants discussed possible solutions to growing international tensions and decoupling tendencies as well as the current energy crisis. “Difficult times challenge those certainties thought to be secure. We are living in a period characterised by secession, self-sufficiency, protectionism and growing international tensions, to the point of war”, said Hermes. “Only together can the necessary bridges be built to secure global prosperity and social cohesion.” As a consequence of the geopolitical turning point, companies are now also witnessing a “geoeconomic turning point” – a development that can also be understood as a “rollback” in many aspects.
Oliver Hermes dealt intensively with the geoeconomic turning point in his opening keynote: “30 years of hyperglobalisation are certainly over. Instead, the spectre of ‘decoupling’ is now wreaking havoc on every continent. Trade barriers, extra-territorial sanctions, technology embargoes and a decoupling of supply chains initiated for political reasons often have clearly underestimated negative consequences for the global economy. In his lecture, however, the host also pointed out possible strategies for the future. “One way out is for companies to invest or disinvest in regions in an intelligent and structured manner. To this end, globally operating companies need to re-examine strategic alternatives for action in the most important markets. The objective is to determine the current position and future prospects of an individual region or country, differentiated according to procurement and sales markets, for a company?
Sigmar Gabriel, former Federal Minister and Vice-Chancellor and Chairman of Atlantik-Brücke e.V., pointed out in his keynote that the strategy for this coming phase of de-globalisation should be “diversification yes, decoupling no”. As a repeat participant at the conference, the former top politician addressed current political and economic challenges in his talk, particularly with regard to Europe’s relationship with China and the United States, providing a lead-in to the subsequent panel discussion.
Oliver Hermes, Edna Schöne, Jean-Pascal Tricoire and H.E. Arif Havas Oegroseno discussed possible solutions and strategies to the challenge of how multinational technology companies can strategically position themselves for the future at their locations in so-called “sandwich states” between the superpowers USA and China.
Another highlight was the inauguration of the new, purpose-built H2-Powerplant. “With this solution, we are already creating the basis for a self-sufficient, decentralised, regenerative energy supply network of the future. Together with our partners, first and foremost Schneider Electric, we are working on being a pioneer in this field and making our contribution to the digital climate protection age”, explains Oliver Hermes.
Prof. Dr. Veronika Grimm, Chair of Economic Theory at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg as well as a member of the German Council of Economic Experts since 2020, put the effects of geo-economic decoupling into context in her subsequent presentation. The speaker strongly advocated the diversification of European energy procurement and a partnership strategy for the procurement of critical raw materials.
Sebastian-Justus Schmidt, founder and CEO of Enapter AG, Wolfgang Langhoff, President and CEO of BP Europa SE, and Georg Weber, Member of the Executive Board and CTO of the Wilo Group, examined this appeal in their panel discussion. Together, the panellists emphasised the importance of diversified value chains in particular. Weber shed light on what contribution industrial companies like Wilo could make to overcoming the current energy crisis: “In such uncertain times, we want to accelerate the implementation of our sustainability strategy as a climate protection company. By 2025, Wilo will produce in a climate-neutral manner globally, increasingly offer highly efficient products and systems, and drive new business areas such as the generation of green hydrogen intensively. We are convinced that in the long term this will also secure jobs.”
Host Oliver Hermes ended the event in Dortmund with an appeal that was as short as it was urgent: “Let us tackle the challenges together and build the necessary bridges that secure global prosperity and social cohesion. I look forward to seeing you again next year at the latest for our fourth industry conference.”
Source: WILO SE