Board Chairman at Balluff

Currently people that manage companies, more frequently turn their focus on their organization having a broader social context and undertaking initiatives relating to social responsibility of their business. What actions in this respect is your company taking, how are they realized and what does responsible leadership mean to you?

I think that persons that manage companies feel a major responsibility for the surroundings of their employees and business partners. At Balluff we have always worked closely with our team, creating a kind of community. We paid attention to, and still do, to the conditions that they fulfill their job tasks in and how it affects their wellbeing, and in what way does it affect their family and surroundings. We assume that we have something to share with others, which is why we undertake operations to bring assistance to people that truly need it. We work together with organizations that help others, entities such as: The Great Holiday Help Orchestra (WOSP), Child Villages SOS, Holiday Package or In Time with Help. It appears obvious to us.

I consider responsible leadership in terms of the functions performed, which is burdened with responsibility for other people. My way of thinking is that you act as a boss, but you have to first and most important, be considerate. For this reason I try to pay special attention to decisions that are undertaken and how they affect the surrounding environment – both in professional and in the public realm.

More and more investors, financial institutions choose organizations that function with ESG protocols as their business partners. Do you think this is right? In what manner does the company you manage go outside of the business as usual model? What does it do for the climate, local communities, diversity and what would you like to implement in the near future?

Yes, following the ESG protocol I consider to be the correct approach. Undertaking any sort of actions we have to have a much broader context than just profits to be had, despite this, from the business perspective, we work hard to achieve these aims and goals. Another question arises however: can you achieve profits by any other means while not harming the environment, with a positive effect on the community and its conduct? Working consistently with ethical and of course legal standards, which should not even be a topic of discussion. Yes, I do think that paying close attention to how the company functions in business is a solid practice.

What does Balluff do in this respect? Quite frequently we pioneer both operations and the products themselves. For many years now our line-level converters have operated on wind power stations. Locally, for many years now we have cared to work with green energy, at first we monitored CO2 levels in our vehicle fleet, and in following years, purchasing hybrid vehicles, and most recently, electric cars.

For years now we have been working on the principle of Activity Based Working. The whole time we are wondering, in what way can we use natural resources: collected rain water or solar power. These systems are installed in a facility that we have been using for the past seven years.

In the near future we would like to increase the number of charging stations on company premises. We are considering additional photovoltaic installations, off-grid, having the capability to store power, to charge automobiles that travel close distances and support heating, ventilation and cooling systems of the building.

Each company creates their own corporate policy, which contains values seen by clients from the outside. Are clients more willing to select a specific company, since it does something good, something which the client identifies with, or does the decision depend mainly on the price? What is your opinion, what trends have you noticed, are you changing anything in that respect?

There definitely are a lot of changes. Currently, public campaigns and access to information create more awareness amongst clients. Thanks to this they are more glad to select products and work with companies that reflect their own ideologies. This type of behavior is actually more noticeable in daily actions of consumers. In the case of B2B, the purchasing process is more complicated, which is why it is important to verify the company with which business is conducted. To achieve this goal you can take advantage of different types of research results, interviews, polls, declarations, certificates. For instance ESG is something companies pay attention to.

Growth of values and ethical principles in many organizations can attest to the increasing awareness in this respect. Many managers declare that they put ethics at the foundation of their operations. Are the rules of fair play in managing a guarantee of stable company growth?

Definitely, in the long run it’s not a matter of guarantee, rather of necessity. With pride I can say that at Balluff we respect the rules of fair play. We constantly evolve our set of rules according to the work environment. Many of our business partners and people we work with, emphasize that they continue to work with us because of  our strong moral foundation. In this manner they determine ethical behavior. I think there are certain actions that pay off, but it’s better not to take these actions.  There are also things that at first glance are not worth the time, but in fact they should be done – especially from a long term perspective.

The world needs smart and quality leaders that want to positively affect their environment. Was there ever a time where you started looking for a deeper sense of your work, ability to do something good for your community or country? What were you able to realize?

I think everyone at a certain stage searches for meaning behind their work and contemplates, what does it mean to me, for my surroundings, family, friends or place where they live. Over the years there have been many of these situations. One of these that had a major impact on how we do business, was the crisis of 2008. At that time we were brainstorming intensively what is truly the added value to a business, for people with whom we work with. From that moment Lean Thinking accompanies our operations.

This approach allowed us to take a closer look at the sense of what we are doing and combine narrow thinking with automatization and robotization at work, to make it more effective and valuable. Behind all of this there is a real person, a person about whom we cannot forget in any context of times in crisis.

Another topic was Industry 4.0. In 2014 with engineers from the industrial sector in Wroclaw, we initiated the first conference in this respect. It is worth noting the fact that in the public realm this concept did not function at all. We carried this event out for four years. At this time we were thinking why did these trends begin to appear beyond our western border, but not here in Poland. What does this mean for us?

How in the long term perspective will our competitiveness increase? This question clearly identified our task at hand, which has to be undertaken for the environment in our country. We have talked about this, even in the media, because of lack of specialists, we did not approach this topic at all. After three years, Industry 4.0 has grown so much that today there practically isn’t a company that would not talk about it or change its rhetoric. We all have been wondering and taking actions to create an economy, business, and our companies based on this concept. In this manner we increase our companies competitiveness as a society, as a country. I can say that we have achieved this thanks to our people that engaged in the subject and also with the so-called bit of luck.

Thanks to these experiences and involvement in the ever improving operational effectiveness of our clients, we are able to, in a swift manner, help them in implementing and realization of their business strategies. In this case an example is the Smart Reordering System to support and control supplies throughout production or the Portable Monitoring System to monitor the condition of bearings, for example. These are scalable, out-of-the-box solutions, and their implementation within the company does not demand big budgets or special resources.

That is, using knowledge and topics of technology and digital tools in combination with a human and business approach to understanding and solving production or logistics challenges allows us to create small and easy to use scalable solutions. In a more and more complex IT/OT environment, they make people’s lives easier.

We are proud that together with our clients and partners we can better ourselves and our surrounding environment as well, creating an innovative automatization that has a human face to it.

PAWEŁ STEFANSKI - Executive Magazine

Paweł Stefanski

●       relies on business, technical and humanist education

●       co-creator of Balluff Polska, offering solutions in monitoring production processes in regards to: predictive flow maintenance, change in format or formulation, traceability, parameterization and ensuring quality

●        creates an innovative environment to development of methods of automatization and digitization for leading manufacturers

●       institutes the Lean Thinking approach at Balluff and when working on solutions for clients

●        he grows the engineer and applicative center to service topics in the range of IIoT, Industry 4.0 and digitization and innovative automatization

●       supports accelerated programs for incubators and startups

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Valeriia Honcharuk