Trainee at fair: 8 trainees, 8 questions for Volker Kronseder, Executive Board Chairman of Krones AG
1. What’s a normal working day for you? What does your daily routine look like?
Mostly, I get here between 7 and quarter past 7, and first of all I look through my emails. Then, from half past 7 to quarter past 9, I go round the plant, to see how things are going in the various halls – not the same route every day, of course, and to talk to the staff. Now and then, there’ll already be something else on the agenda in the morning. From quarter past 9 to half past ten, we have an Executive Board meeting. After that, I go through the post with my assistant, and make phone calls. At lunchtime, I often eat with clients; but I also live quite nearby, so sometimes I can pop home as well.
In the afternoon, I have meetings with clients or conferences, consultations, workshops, or whatever else is on the agenda. This then continues until the evening. My son has also asked me what I do all day. Basically, talking and phoning, I told him. That’s mainly what I do.
2. How often can you “switch off”, without having to think about the huge responsibilities you have? And what do you like doing best in order to switch off?
If you were to think of all the responsibilities the whole day long, it would inevitably crush you. And that’s why I think of the responsibilities only every now and then. I can still switch off quite well. In the evening, when I get home, I can switch off to about 90 per cent. And at the weekends, I can even switch off completely.
Tinkering with my motorbike, riding around on it. That’s my way of relaxing: doing something with your hands and seeing the actual results. What’s more, for the last 10 years I’ve been playing the flute. I enjoy it, and it’s a challenge for the brain. Keeping time, reading the music, dexterity, breathing technique – you have to be able to coordinate it all.
3. What goals have you had and still have in your career?
I always have goals that are achievable. I don’t set myself cloud-cuckoo-land goals, but goals that are realistically reachable. Basically, this is what I’ve done all my life. And my responsibility, my remit, is simply to manage the company together with my colleagues in the team, so that Krones is successful, so that Krones grows, so that the staff have enough work to do. And that the shareholders are happy when there’s a bit of money left over on top of the work. That’s my goal: to keep the company moving forward.
4. What’s your favourite machine from Krones?
The Ergomatic labeller, the Ergomodule. That’s a magnificent machine.
5. When and what was your first trade fair?
I’m no longer quite sure when it was – I think some time in the 1960s. During this time, when I was a boy, I went to the drinktec in Munich. And afterwards to the Oktoberfest! I still remember the drinktec, which of course made a huge impression on me.
But I went to trade fairs quite often when I was still relatively young. My father always took me along with him, to fairs in the rest of Europe as well. This was an opportunity to get a bit acquainted with some interesting cities.
6. What criteria are used to decide which exhibits will be on show at the fair?
It all has to do with innovation. A fair like the Brau in Nuremberg has a particular target group. And this target group is the mid-tier companies, meaning relatively small breweries, beverage producers, water bottlers – though this doesn’t mean that the “big guys” aren’t involved as well. But the principal target group is the determinant factor for deciding on the exhibits.
And then we sit down and deliberate about what would be interesting for the particular fair involved. There are always fashionable trends to consider, too, subjects that concern the entire brewing sector. The beverage can, for instance, is once again a topical issue, especially outside Germany. Or an increased focus on the operators, as with our Ergomodul labeller. In regard to lighter handling parts and operator-friendliness, for example. These are issues that determine our innovative thrust. And those are the exhibits that we then showcase at the fair.
Or as another example, take Evoguard, our range of valves. This has to be showcased at fairs like this as well. After all, we can’t simply assume that everyone knows Krones is now offering valves, too. There are always going to be people who will be amazed to hear this – even though we’ve been doing it for five years now.
7. Will you be there at the BrauBeviale 2014? If so, what is your remit at the Brau?
Yes, I’ll be there for all three days. I attend the opening event, since I’m on the Exhibitors’ Advisory Board. And I talk to the clients, because I know a lot of them personally. And the clients, of course, take the opportunity to drop by and say hello. The paramount purpose of the fair is to talk to the clients.
8. What do you think of our “Trainees at the Fair – we take care” project?
That’s a brilliant project, because it also brings you into meaningful contact with our clients. After all, doing your work in a protected environment is one thing, but interfacing directly with a client and doing a good job of it is something else again. I think a trade fair is a great opportunity to get acquainted with how a vendor-client relationship works in practice. To see how Krones showcases its capabilities and how our competitors present themselves, that’s definitely worthwhile.