Interview with Jean- Pascal Tricoire

President and Chief Executive OfficerSchneider Electric SA

"Countries would seem to fall into two categories. The first category concerns mature markets. ...The second category concerns new economies, which have brighter prospects."

"The US economy seems more flexible and more able to regenerate and kick-start itself. The macroeconomic data for the US may not be brilliant, but the country has a culture of reinvention. Europe, however, has a more rigid structure."

"The world is facing various challenges: a growing scarcity of resources in mature countries, a surge of new consumers in emerging countries, energy efficiency imperatives, the need for new energy sources and the quest for follow-on efficiency drivers in mature countries."

"In uncertain times like these, this balanced geographical diversification enables us to keep the company’s performance on an even keel and take advantage of growth avenues, wherever they may be."

"...we have developed new activities in recent years to satisfy customers’ need for closer relationships with manufacturers, which have donned the mantle of solutions providers. We have created an adjunct to Schneider Electric’s traditionally intermediate business model with the aim of cementing relationships with customers."

" Remember that the new economies are more than just China. ...Half of Schneider Electric’s sales generation in new economies is attributable to Asia and the other half to Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Eastern Europe."

"The risk is that protectionist tendencies, driven by public pressure and governments’ desire to avoid confrontation at all costs, could get the better of globalisation, which, regardless of popular belief, has largely contributed to global wealth creation over the past 10 to 20 years."

"We were faced with two options in 2009: freeze all activities and concentrate on cost containment or carry out a complete transformation of the company. We chose to transform Schneider Electric."

"Our staff have an incredible ability to completely redesign their working methods without missing a beat in operational performance so I am very confident in Schneider Electric’s future."

"I believe that change needs to be ongoing, so that the company can step up the process when necessary. It’s like sport: if you stop running, it’s hard to get going again, never mind sprint."

"We need resilience, adaptability and agility to keep on challenging the market, reducing costs where necessary, channelling the resulting savings to other areas, and keeping up with change. This implies an ongoing emphasis on the change process."

"Schneider Electric’s decision-making bodies are not confined to one or two key locations, but positioned close to customers, employees and decision-makers in relevant areas (R&D, corporate, business)."

"We are pursuing both nationality diversity and gender balance. To prepare for the future, we emphasise planning in respect of key skills and recruitment. We also focus on the pipeline of 3,000 employees, among 130,000+, who might one day take the helm."

"Our corporate culture is central to fostering a sense of responsibility and buy-in. Our management and leadership bodies are now governed by precisely defined practices and guidelines for communication and teamwork. This applies to all levels from my immediate circle to the company’s Top 3,000 managers."

"Our emphasis is on agility and informality. Because informality is also important, I strive to have direct, informal communication with employees to encourage people to express themselves more naturally, more clearly. One of our four values is directness."

"All stakeholders have gained influence in recent years. The internet and social media have fostered a level of effective transparency that is empowering all stakeholders"

"We have introduced a “Planet and Society” barometer, which covers environmental, ethical and social considerations. Progress targets are established for each area. One way to embed CSR in the organisation is to make it a significant factor in the variable portion of managers’ remuneration."

"The incentive system in place for our employees (other than sales professionals) is founded one-third on economic results, one-third on CSR progress targets and one-third on individual performance targets"

"There is also a positive impact on customer loyalty: we invite customers along when we bring electricity to a village in India or Africa and we involve them in the activities. This enables them to perceive our role and our mission more clearly."

"CSR also removes some business risk and helps to develop a vibrant, sustainable corporate culture. This is why many people join Schneider Electric: they are keen to belong to a company whose operations serve the best interests of the planet, cities, countries and people."

"People need a sense of purpose. Gross margins are not the stuff of which dreams are made. And even without going so far as to talk of dreams, you cannot inspire people to take action, create or motivate without instilling a sense of purpose, especially when times are difficult."

"CSR is vital to corporate sustainability. A company is essentially people-based. Motivation and a sense of purpose – knowing what you are doing and why – are indispensable. They determine everything: customers, recruitment and corporate sustainability."

 

Jean – Pascal was appointed in 2006 Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive officer of Schneider Electric SA. Prior that, he held various positions in the firm such as Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice-President of the International Division and head of Schneider Electric's Global Strategic Accounts and of the Schneider 2000+ programme.
He began his career with Schneider Electric SA by carrying out missions in Italy’s, China’s and South Africa’s firms.
Jean-Pascal holds a MBA in International Affairs from CESMA Business School.
  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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