Power to the People

Traditional social values drive this global innovation leader. The Bosch approach to empowering people and creating an environment of openness and collaboration is truly unique, and serving the company well, writes Simone Beretta.

 

The concept of generating shareholder wealth is a priority of many CEOs and companies. However, a growing number of respected business leaders have questioned this approach, suggesting instead that there should be a loftier purpose, one of creating value for society, and not simply maximizing shareholder value. Lynn Stout, Professor of Corporate and Business Law at the Clarke Business Law Institute at Cornell Law School talks about the need for corporations to re-focus on the goal of creating and delighting customers. In today’s demanding business world, is it possible for organizations to make money with a longer-term, value-driven approach? The answer is yes – and a handful of companies were recently singled out as being “well-owned and driven by a great sense of purpose”. One of them is Bosch.

 

Ever since Robert Bosch founded the company 129 years ago, it has remained committed to a value-driven approach – value for the customer, value for Bosch associates, value for the company. And creating that value lies at the heart of the company’s vision and is the basis of Bosch’s continuing success.  One example of that approach is in its corporate governance. The Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH – a charitable foundation set up in 1964– owns 92% of Bosch and advises the board of directors to ensure that it remains not only focused on doing good business, but also on long-term growth, employee welfare and the foundation’s charitable objectives. This approach is entirely in line with the original vision of Robert Bosch, who once said, “Never forget your humanity, and respect human dignity in your dealings with others.”

 

Today, Bosch is a global technology and services leader pioneering Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Good, and Energy and Building Technology. The company has roughly more than 360,000 associates in 150 countries and annual sales revenue of 49 billion euros, with 240 million euros generated in annual earnings across 15 countries in the Middle East. Yet, despite all this, Bosch continues to embrace the vision of its founder and his belief in humanity with a “people before profit” mantra.

 

For Bosch, its people really are its most valuable asset. Associates are central to the company’s success and the company has created an environment across all of its 360 locations globally that empowers associates to deliver value, and contribute ideas and innovations that improve quality of life.

 

In order for Bosch associates to deliver their best, the company recognizes the importance of enabling them to strike a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. Bosch has developed a variety of working models across all levels of hierarchy, ranging from job sharing and part-time work with a range of possible working hours. Work life balance is one of the company’s key employer branding messages, and here in the Middle East, the company has a flexible and family friendly work culture that allows associates to balance their career and family interests. Associates can enjoy the following:

·       Flexible working hours

·       Option to work from home

·       Flexible days off, as required

·       14 weeks fully-paid maternity leave, which far exceeds the industry average                             

·       Array of special leave days

 

At Bosch, competence has nothing to do with age. What counts is the combination of practical experience and fresh ideas. It has created an environment where up to four generations work and flourish together but it is especially committed to improving prospects for young professionals. Given that youth unemployment globally remains high at 13 percent, and that rate almost doubles in the Middle East and North Africa region, it is a commitment borne out of the company’s inherent responsibility to make a significant contribution to society.

 

In 2014 alone, Bosch took on more than 9,100 new associates worldwide and regards the occupational training of young people as a vital part of the company’s social responsibility. Through a variety of activities such as apprenticeships and open days, Bosch hopes to showcase the opportunities that are available to young people and to inspire them to seek fulfilling careers that utilize the best of their talents.

 

In the United Arab Emirates, a mentoring initiative called Backstage@Bosch, was conducted in March, which aimed to allow students make informed decisions about their career choices upon graduation based on their experience with a multination organization such as Bosch. Backstage@Bosch offered a platform for talented future professionals to gain insight into the work life and culture at Bosch, demonstrating that time-honored values can successfully and comfortably sit alongside business success. Hundreds of young people applied for the opportunity – and of the twenty five university students who attended the initiative, five were chosen to join the company’s rigorous six-month internship program.

 

Bosch also actively reaches out to students and future professionals through less conventional channels. Robert Bosch Middle East HR Manager, Simone Beretta has connected with students via social media channels to address career related questions. Recently, an hour long Facebook live chat was organized where Simone responded to enthusiastic queries from over dozens of students ranging from CV writing tips to current job opportunities at Bosch.

 

“People are our most valuable asset. Recruiting the best talent, then nurturing the employee and encouraging creativity is crucial to our continued success,” said Simone. “Our commitment to developing innovative, beneficial, and forward-looking products that improve people’s lives is only possible through our on-going and active investment in our associates.”

 

Within the context of people investment, Bosch places an emphasis on lifelong learning. Associates are encouraged to develop not only their specialist professional knowledge, but also their personal qualities. Bosch’s top-tier training courses help associates to consistently broaden their capabilities, and encompass technical or business know-how to quality management, facilitation and language skills.

 

By creating and sustaining a people-centric culture, associates take Bosch’s leitmotiv “Invented for Life” to heart. Besides embedding innovation in the research and development labs, innovation often happens at the workplace. Bosch’s Power Tools division launched the IXO cordless screwdriver in 2013 and has since sold over 10 million units. The idea was the brainchild of a young female product manager who was seeking a lightweight screwdriver that was easy to use and ergonomically designed for women. When she could not find anything within the existing product line that fit the bill, her concept for a new screwdriver came to life. Today, the IXO cordless screwdriver is one of Bosch’s bestsellers within the range.

 

Bosch’s commitment to people extends beyond its own associates. The company’s enduring success can only be possible in a socially and ecologically sound environment. During his life, Robert Bosch showed a keen interest in educating and empowering people. The Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH carries on his work to promote and support the sciences, health, international understanding, and education in contemporary form. Today, one of the focal points of Bosch’s charitable activities is running educational projects and nurturing young scientific talent.

 

Education is a guiding pillar of within the company as well. Bosch spent approximately AED 837 million (200 million euros) to train associates in 2014. Last year alone, some 515,000 associates attended 46,000 classroom-based events and 300,000 web-based training modules.

 

Fittingly, Robert Bosch once remarked, “In a large, well-managed company, it is generally not the case that someone can say that they were solely responsible for a particular action. In such a company, cooperation is a must and each individual depends on the other. In a world of increasing inter-dependencies and connectivity, companies can take a leaf out of Bosch’s book and put interests and empowerment of people ahead of financial gain.

 

 

About Simone Beretta

Simone Beretta is Human Resource Manager of Bosch Middle East, a fully-owned subsidiary of Robert Bosch GmbH.  

Based in Dubai since 2013, Simone has expanded the team of associates at Bosch Middle East from 80 employees to more than 100 using forward-looking strategies in HR, targeted recruitment of the best talent, and professional development initiatives.

He has developed a strong international career at Bosch in offices around the world. Prior to his appointment as HR Manager of the Middle East in 2013, he served as HR Business Partner at Bosch in his native Italy. In 2011, he took on the role of HR Manager Training & Development in Wuxi, China.

 

Simone holds a Master’s degree in HR& Labor Studies from Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.

 

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