Interview with Yves Serra

President and Chief Executive OfficerGeorg Fischer Ltd.

"No one has a crystal ball, so we think in scenarios and not in certainties."

"We’re also prepared for Europe to do better and to grow - which is not absurd - or, alternatively, for the economy in Europe to take a turn for the worse."

"We focus our efforts on where we see growth. This includes Asia and America, at least for our products, and also some sectors in Europe. Europe overall may not grow much, but some countries and sectors will do well."

"The picture is not just black and white, there are definitely pockets of growth in Europe as well."

"Because of our sectors of activity, machine tools, for example, for which 60% of the world market is in Asia. For cars, the biggest market is now also China. Even in our water in gas businesses, the best prospects are in Asia."

"We need to be innovative. We train our people to be close to our customers so as not to miss new trends, and cooperate with our customers to bring them solutions."

"We have to stay close to our key customers because those leaders are the ones who set the trends. We have to understand what they want, not always offer new products, but at least adapt existing products as their needs change."

"Fortunately, recessions do not usually happen in all regions at the same time. So for a company like ours, it’s important to be present everywhere."

"To say we’re always well-prepared for changes may not be correct. We do our best to work through scenarios, opportunities and threats, and to prepare accordingly."

"...we’ve had to shift people, production, R&D to China and Asia. 10 years ago Asia accounted for maybe 10% of our sales. Today it’s 35% for our machine tool business."

"We recruit Chinese employees not only in China, but in Europe and the US as well. A lot of Chinese talent emigrated or studied outside of China. They tend to understand Western mentalities and companies better."

"Of course you have to pay people the market price, or they’ll leave. But treatment of people is also important. Even in China, if people are well-treated and see opportunities, they’ll stay – at least most of them will."

"Every year we try to bring Japanese and Chinese employees here to our headquarters for 1-2 years."

"All stakeholders are important. First we think of customers and employees. Do we have the right people in the right jobs? Then we think of our customers."

"Sustainable behaviour is also actively encouraged within our company and our Code of Conduct is a key part of."


Yves was appointed President and CEO of Georg Fischer Ltd in 2008. Prior to that, he held various positions, such as: Head of GF Piping Systems and Member of the Executive Committee (2003-2008), President Charmilles Technologies SA (Geneva) and Member of the Agie Charmilles Group Management (1998–2003), President Charmilles Technologies Japan (Tokyo) and Regional Manager Asia Agie Charmilles (1992-1998), CEO of the Sulzer Corporate Subsidiary Hirayama Manufacturing Corp. in Tokyo (Japan 1987- 1992) and Manager Mergers and Acquisitions Sulzer Brothers Japan (Tokyo 1986-1987). Yves holds an Engineering diploma from Ecole Centrale de Paris (France) and a M.Sc. in civil engineering from University of Wisconsin Madison (US).
  These interviews contain the opinions and views of the CEOs interviewed, and do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of PwC.


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