Dr Rüdiger Grube

Rüdiger Grube
Chairman and CEO

Deutsche Bahn AG

Prior to joining Deutsche Bahn, Dr Rüdiger Grube has held a number of senior executive, supervisory and administrative board positions with Daimler, EADS, MTU Friedrichshafen, Hyundai Motor Company and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. He holds a degree in automotive engineering and aircraft construction and a Ph.D. in industrial science and polytechnology.

 

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A view from the top

In this short video, Dr Rüdiger Grube shares his view on today's key business issues: risk, volatility, innovation, talent, and growth

Quotes

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

In my opinion, 2012 will still hold volatility and uncertainty for the markets.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

To succeed, DB will have to prepare accordingly. But I think the DB Group, with its diversified business portfolio in the passenger and logistics markets – combined with its clear strategic focus – is on the right track.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

It is crucial that public budget contributions for railway infrastructure sufficiently match the requirements over the next 20 years.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

We would like to see the rail passenger transport markets be opened for competition as quickly and as completely as possible.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

We have also intensified our programmes focussed on the recruitment, development, and retention of qualified workers – with an eye toward positioning ourselves as a highly attractive employer. Our main approach to innovation has always revolved around the creativity of our employees.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

We annually train about 10,000 apprentices in more than 25 vocational skill areas.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

To systematically prepare our staff members and managers in dealing with current and future demands, we’ve introduced a standardised set of employee and management skills. For example, vital employee skills include a customer orientation, the willingness to change, good communication skills, and the willingness to cooperate.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

The demographic changes that we see occurring in many of the regions where we operate – shrinking populations, an aging workforce, and diversifying demographics – compounds the challenges we face and intensifies the war for talent.

Rüdiger Grube

Dr Rüdiger Grube

Chairman and CEO, Deutsche Bahn AG

We try to attract new employees from all talent pools. For example, by 2015, our target is to increase the proportion of staff that is female to 25%; and the proportion of management that is female to 20%.

 

Read interview transcript

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Has volatility in the world’s economy affected your business this year?

First of all, we have to recognise that the markets have been extremely volatile since the start of the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. Since that time, additional economical, political and regulatory developments have been the cause of further uncertainty. For example, the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and the political disturbances in North Africa and the Middle East have had a direct impact on global supply chains - which, in turn, has negatively impacted the market for air freight. Air freight often functions as an early indicator in terms of the development of transport markets, generally. Clearly, the effects of the US economic slowdown and the European sovereign debt crisis have rippled through the real economy - including the transport markets. Another key factor effecting global business has been the extraordinary increase in energy and commodity prices, which, of course has also impacted our business. But due to our excellent market position and the counter-measures we put in place, the DB Group has actually expanded its business. All in all, I expect 2011 to be a successful year for the DB Group. However, in my opinion, 2012 will still hold volatility and uncertainty for the markets. We face a variety of risks including: a potential escalation of the sovereign debt crisis; national austerity programmes that result in reduced public budget contributions for the transport sector; high unemployment rates in various countries; and the threat of union strikes. To succeed, DB will have to prepare accordingly. But I think the DB Group, with its diversified business portfolio in the passenger and logistics markets - combined with its clear strategic focus - is on the right track.

What’s the one thing the government could do to better support your company?

Given the sheer number and diversity of ways that we interface with governments, it is impossible for me to cite just one improvement. Instead, let me focus on several that are most important. First, it is crucial that public budget contributions for railway infrastructure sufficiently match the requirements over the next 20 years. With that in mind, we support an appropriate and sustainable financing scheme directed toward European railway network infrastructure. Such a financing scheme is a prerequisite for the success of European transport and climate protection policies. Second, at the European level, we would like to see the rail passenger transport markets be opened for competition as quickly and as completely as possible. Third, we believe that reform of the regulatory framework in Germany should be oriented towards the needs of the marketplace.

In what ways has your strategy changed over the past few years?

In past decades, we faced a number of corporate, environmental, and strategic challenges that made certain shifts in our strategic direction necessary. The Railway Reform of 1994, which opened the rail market to competition, marked the beginning of a new railway era in Germany. As a consequence, we had to reorganise ourselves to become a more modern, efficient, and customer-oriented company. Accordingly, our efforts have focussed primarily on profitability and productivity, debt reduction, as well as on implementing entrepreneurial structures. Strengthening our core business, building up our worldwide logistics business, and increasing our financial strength helped DB to achieve viability in the capital markets. Most recently, as a consequence of the worldwide financial crisis, we have had to cancel our plans for going public in 2008 and instead take other counterbalancing measures. Currently, we have to also deal with various challenges concerning social and environmental issues, which we address within a framework that is based on the concept of sustainability. For DB Group, success on a sustainable basis means that we must simultaneously balance economic, social and environmental needs.

In what ways has your response to environmental or social concerns become an element of your strategy?

First of all, compared to the other modes of transport - such as car or airplane - railways are already per se environmentally-friendly. Nevertheless, we want to solidify our leading position as an environmentally-conscious enterprise by, for example, increasing our use of renewable energy source to 35% by 2020; and to 100% by 2050 in our railway business. We are also expanding “green” products and services and are further improving our resource efficiency. We expect that operating as an increasingly “green” enterprise will be an important source of revenue for us in the years ahead. Concerning social issues, I would like to highlight the DB’s internal job market - a tool that helps us support skill redeployment on an as-needed basis and in a socially acceptable manner. We have also intensified our programmes focussed on the recruitment, development, and retention of qualified workers - with an eye toward positioning ourselves as a highly attractive employer. There are many other ways with which we address social concerns - for example, by supporting local schools and offering unlimited free regional travel for handicapped people. In order to improve our corporate reputation as well as increase revenues it is important to address environmental, social and economic concerns equally. And this is exactly our target: to be sustainably successful.

How is your approach to innovation changing?

I consider innovation to be an important driver in the competitiveness of our transport activities. Our main approach to innovation has always revolved around the creativity of our employees. So, in addition to conventional R&D activities, we’ve established several incentive programmes that reward DB employees for suggesting innovative ideas. We have in place an “idea management” system that solicits, collects, and evaluates ideas from our employees. In 2010, for instance, we compiled over 11,000 employee ideas. And the ideas which we saw through to implementation had a combined economic impact on the Group of over €8 million. Another valuable programme is our DB Award, which recognises innovations and ideas in the areas of: the economy and growth; quality; customer service; innovation; and social and environmental engagement. During 2011, more than 1,000 of our employees both in Europe and overseas - including Australia, Israel, China, Japan and the US - competed in the DB Award programme. The winning team in the category of customer service, for example, was based in Denmark. Our Danish colleagues won based on their ideas for improving the quality of bus rides and enhancing employee satisfaction.

What particular skills are absolutely central to your strategy?

The knowledge and skills of our employees are our most valuable assets. Our business requires a broad range of skills. Just to give you an idea - DB has 296,000 employees working in more than 300 occupational categories. And we annually train about 10,000 apprentices in more than 25 vocational skill areas. All in all, we recruit from many target groups with a particular focus on non-academic professionals. To systematically prepare our staff members and managers in dealing with current and future demands, we’ve introduced a standardised set of employee and management skills. For example, vital employee skills include a customer orientation, the willingness to change, good communication skills, and the willingness to cooperate. Among our important management skills are change management, personnel management and development, and corporate responsibility.

Are talent challenges different than they used to be?

As a service provider with a strong technical focus, qualified and committed employees are one of our key success factors. The demographic changes that we see occurring in many of the regions where we operate - shrinking populations, an aging workforce, and diversifying demographics - compounds the challenges we face and intensifies the war for talent. In response, we’ve taken a three-prong approach to talent: First, we try to attract new employees from all talent pools. For example, by 2015, our target is to increase the proportion of staff that is female to 25%; and the proportion of management that is female to 20%. Second, we have to continuously develop our workforce and promote individual employability. And finally, we have to retain the employees who are already on board by providing attractive employment conditions and establishing a value-driven corporate culture.

How are you collaborating with educational institutions or governments to better develop a pipeline of future employees?

We collaborate with educational institutions and with the government in order to promote DB as an attractive employer and to disseminate information about job openings. Let me first give you some examples of our activities with educational institutions. In cooperation with different regional educational institutions we offer a programme called “Dual Studies”, which includes a bachelor program for students who want to work and to study at the same time. We also support university R&D programmes both in Germany and abroad. Our relationships with Georgia Institute of Technology and Technische Universität Darmstadt are two examples of that. We have also endowed chairs at various universities - Technische Universität Berlin and St. Petersburg State University in Russia, for example. As well as providing us with technical research and insight, these relationships with universities provide us with a campus presence for purposes of recruiting. Regarding cooperation with government, our aim is to lend support to industrial and social initiatives. One example of this is our support of the national scholarship programme which is sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Research.