tv Leaders with Lacqua Bloomberg July 23, 2017 2:00am-2:30am EDT
francine: he's a rare breed of chief executive, who dedicated his entire executive life to one company. he was a young business graduate and he joined siemens in 1980, moving up the ranks and around the world for a company described as the flagship of the german economy. siemens truly powers modern life, making everything from turbines and cameras to ovens and factories. joining me, chief executive officer joe kaeser. thank you so much for speaking
to bloomberg. >> sure. francine: can you tell us about that first day you started at siemens. >> it has been a while, obviously, but i was coming into siemens and i thought, oh, my god, i don't know nothing anymore about what i studied. it was quite an experience. francine: going into it, what did you think? this is a company i want to work for for a long time? >> i was interviewing a different places, but then i thought siemens at that time was still in the semiconductor business, and thought this is really cool. they were about to develop this one chip, so it felt pretty cool. so i said, yeah, siemens. francine: how has the company changed? >> its like day and night, really. i was coming into a manufacturing environment, it
was about protection and process and cost efficiency, and there was a very technologically focused company. it was outside in. francine: what was your favorite day? >> i have had many favorite days. whenever my team comes up to celebrate some big success. you have a whole team of people who are happy, who appreciate what they do. francine: have you measure success? >> there are several ways to measure success. the first is that you make good are what you say you would do. is about accountability, it's the ground floor. the icing on the cake about
success is when people talk about you two different people. i think that's in the end what matters, because that is what you will be remembered as. whether you make the numbers are not, good or bad or something else at the time, but after a generation people say, hey, that guy, he made some mistakes, but he really left us a better company. francine: talk to me about innovation. what will it look like a 170 years? how much do you have to innovate, and how much you have to stay close to your roots? >> in the next 170 years, the change will accelerate products and solutions and will likely become more intangible. there will be much more integration, more bits and pieces and products with platforms and solutions. i hope the world will have
become a much better world than today. francine: few companies have gone through as many technological and industrial revolutions as siemens, but rather than just survive then, it leaves them, from electricity to jet engines, to wireless communications. now siemens is investing billions in making sure its future of digital. from giant gas turbines in asia that use artificial intelligence to reduce emissions, to train carriages in the u.s. that harness big data to find problems before they occur. are you concerned are worried about the pace of change? if you look at the last 10 years, innovation has gone so fast that you can't possibly do that over 170 years. >> well, that is probably what people thought 170 years ago also. people are naturally concerned about the future because the
future is uncertain. the question is what concerns us, and innovation, not so much. not so much what technology can do, because all those three industrial revolutions we have had so far have made this a better planet, made this society a better society. but it is radically going to change, the speed of this change going forward, the human society may as well not be able to deal with that sort of speed. what we are really concerned about, if you don't make this revolution inclusive to society it may as well cause challenges with unrest, divided populations leading to populism, populism leads to nationalism, all the way down to where we used to be. francine: you think there will
be more problems to provide solutions for because of the rate of change? >> with the internet of things or whatever you call it, people believe in is only software, a virtual type of thing, sophisticated, invisible somewhere in clouds. that's not quite true. there will always be cars, there will always be trucks, something to eat, there will always be hardware. francine: are people confusing innovation with globalization? >> since a good question. maybe, with the speed of technology, what they feel is the root causes globalization, but it actually isn't, it's the other way around. technology makes it possible to be global. to have our smartphones that we are always on at any point in
time, no matter where we are, we can talk to anyone on the planet, real-time. that come activity is a benefit to globalization. if you are negatively affected by innovation or globalization, we don't like it. that is what we need to do going forward. francine: it was pretty controversial. are you ever concerned of being controversial? ♪
>> the customers, the business partners -- over the past few days, there has been a great deal of media coverage about siemens, about the personnel, about the crisis, and related business matters. that this is not siemens, and that is not what this stands for. francine: so kaeser made the statement days after taking over as chief executive, after his predecessor was removed. it said a lot about his appeal as a leader, providing clarity during confusion, and stability in unrest. he spent the last four years trying to simplify the complex structure of the company. you have overhauled siemens. are you pretty happy with the structure now? >> i am happy, i am happy with what i see in terms of how our people get into it, how they take ownership in what they do.
my company, my responsibility, my job which i own. it takes a lot of confidence. francine: do you think investors ever get confused, because you are such a big group? >> they only get confused if i try to explain it in to much detail. then i always know i better shut up, because i got to deep. don't confuse them with the details, just tell them the way they wanted to be. francine: so what exactly drives you? >> at the end of the day, business is there for society. business which does not create benefits for society should not exist. you need to exist for society as leaders, in you can't afford to
divide society. francine: you seem to have very strong ideals. is that ultimately why you empower your employees? >> we call it ownership culture. there are two aspects to that. first of all, it's a family business. no matter what side it is, it's your business, your personal business. what is your natural desire? your natural desire is very likely that you want to use that for your children. there are exceptions, but this is probably what is the natural desire. inherently, you build in a sustainable, long-term element of culture. there's a sense of, i only company, i am long-term oriented, i do the best because it is my company. no matter what you do, always act as if it is your company.
even in meeting rooms, we sat around the table and say, what do you do with this company? they put so much pressure on a meaningful debate. if someone says, i will do it anyway -- is that which you want? francine: so does that mean you worry about short-term? in business overall, or more in america? >> it's only a matter of time. many things are being invented in america and other places. francine: you changed it, you are trying to change it from within the company. >> is a good question. you need to be successful in the short term, but not lose in the long term. this is the balance you need to strike.
the necessary difference between the short-term aspect and the long-term aspect, to keep the distance close, because the wider it gets, the more active it is. francine: it was pretty controversial when you went to see vladimir putin. are you ever concerned about being controversial? >> the intent was not to be controversial. francine: in march, 2014, he met with vladimir putin at his residence outside moscow. it was days after russia had annexed crimea and just as the west was launching its own showdown. >> we have condemned russia's invasion of ukraine and rejected the legitimacy of the crime yet referendum. >> if the outcome -- i didn't know that president obama and the european leaders at the same time i was meeting the president, i had just had a
press conference in brussels, they just didn't bother telling me so it was unfortunate timing. later on i gave an interview in the remember it was crimea. i gave the interview for the german media, and i was asked, how could you even go to this person? >> [speaking german] >> [speaking german] >> i said, it is good to talk to each other. i was committed to speaking, and it was crimea, and it was -- of
course it matters. after what we have been through with the russian people in two world wars, this is kind of a temporary issue. what happened was, and you know this well, it was not about the wars, crimea is maybe not as material. obviously, you say what the hell is going on with that person? so that was a bit unfortunate, but i said i made a commitment to industrialize the country. that was the intent. the outcome was learning, with the broader respective responsibility. we believe talking to each other in any crisis is more important than talking about each other. francine: does making america
>> thank you very much. such a great honor to get to know you, to be with you. i want to thank all the business leaders who have joined us. francine: siemens chief executive joe kaeser was one of the business leaders at the delegation to the white house in march. siemens employs 50,000 people in america, and is one of its biggest foreign investors. that the visit came against the backdrop of uncertainty, after the new president had been less
than couple of entry about german trade. what do you think will come out of the trump administration? >> i think the jury is out on this one, obviously because we are -- we have hardly made to the beginning of the first year, and it could be up to eight. i want to believe he is trying to do the right thing for his country. the style is different as to what we are used to. i think that the europeans are going to look into what matters to them. and if there are issues with russian collusion or any other things, you need to deal with it. it's the united states' business. the other topic is about global trade, and how do we interact together in a modern world of manufacturing and specializing
on certain tasks in the global world. that one matters, i believe, to europe, especially in germany, with a straight deficit, and people underestimate the desire of the customers. francine: which is what? >> the desire of the customer is to buy what they like to have. we had better be mindful about people's desires. no one forces are goods and products to any american customers. they want to buy it because they believe it is good. so in the end, global competitiveness, we believe, is about innovation, and it is also about a fair dealing with it. so i guess that is where we need to sort out a few. how trade starts versus how it develops.
francine: does making america great again necessarily mean the rest of the world becomes worse? >> i think that's the point. >> millions of hard-working u.s. citizens have been left behind by international commerce, and together, we can shape the future where all of us have a path to financial security. >> he is the president, and you respect the office, but america is great. it is already a great country. it is the leading economy in terms of next generation manufacturing, you know? the googles and microsofts of the world, dow chemical, i was -- the car manufacturers have been catching up pretty well, after the devastating situation a few years ago. this is a great country by any means, and obviously the
greatest has always been that it was a free country. there is nothing wrong with america, the thing that would be wrong is if we go from america first to america only. that is complicated, because there are still 7.2 billion people around. that is where we have a bit of confusion. francine: is europe great? >> it has its challenges, because without the european union there is nothing that holds them together. but i believe we have seen the worst in terms of being pulled in different directions. it seems to me it is more integrating -- francine: so we don't somehow forget the concerns of populism, and then it comes back uglier in five years? >> i am very encouraged that
people saw, this is not going my way, this fiscal populism. there are more people going to elections to vote than there used to be. this was the most encouraging topic to me, that people said, it is time to really take it. that is quite positive. francine: how do you see china? >> the chinese way is typically sit down and smile. francine: and behind closed doors? >> and look what happens. today, with the western world, we mean what we say. china says, if they are nervous toledo global trade, things like that, why don't we do this job for them? we have 1.6 billion people, so why bother?
just a couple months ago, i was at the summit, and president xi was the keynote speaker. it was his summit. 65 nations signed up, 100 state leaders. there might be more than the 65, they are going to go about $200 billion in finances. he said, the coordination has brought peace and trade and all that good stuff, so why not build it again? why not take it one step further, think about it, 65-100 nations and the rest of the world doesn't know how to do you risk global trade. they are going to be -- it might
as well leave the new -- francine: such a big economy. they are trying to move the supertanker, right? are we going to see a bump as china tries to become a more consumption led economy? >> i think china is not exactly a democratic state under current standards, so the government is very clear to be outgoing. there are multiple opinions about what could be done, should be done. francine: so they have a good handle on it? >> they have a very clear direction and execution is strong. i'm not saying if it is good and bad, because there are human rights, challenges, but so far they have been very effective in doing what they set out to do.