Interview with Susanna Schneeberger, Vice President & Managing Director, Terex Material Handling
Cranesy: First of all, tell us about your career in crane / construction industry. How did you join this sector?
Susanna Schneeberger: My career is characterized by global tasks and leading positions in sales, marketing, strategy and business development in different industries. I have among others worked in the media and IT industries before I joined my previous company which was an industrial rubber company offering solutions to seal, damp and protect among others in the construction industry. I am a person who believes that different perspective, experiences and background brings dynamic to a business and I am personally more interested in the challenge itself and also the opportunity to make a difference than the actual industry.
There are certain skills and competencies required as a leader, but I think they are rather generic and do not differ that much between industries; like strategic thinking, being business minded, understanding customers and markets as well as being able to successfully drive change and take decisions.
My main motivation has been the same for all jobs I have had; taking on responsibility and being able to influence the development. My first job was in a very market and customer driven company and the value of customer orientation has formed my view and accomplished me throughout my different career steps. I think it is a key success factor to listen to our customers and offer solutions and act in a way that that creates value for them, independent of industry.
In my new position as global leader for the Material Handling Business at Terex, further to the opportunity itself I appreciate the strong business values of Terex as well as the strong Demag product and service brand based on high quality and reliability.
Cranesy: Would you recommend other women to undertake this career? If yes, why?
Susanna Schneeberger: Yes, of course and without any restriction. It might be that manufacturing and construction have not been preferred industries for women in the past. But I think that is changing. My home country Sweden has the highest percentage of female engineers in Europe and also India is having a growing amount of very qualified female engineers in industrial companies.
I very much appreciate that Terex is a value oriented company and a leader in diversity. Skilled people with great experience and clear focus, independent of background and gender are welcomed in all parts of the company. The goal is to have a diverse, global workforce in an inclusive workplace that unleashes the talents of all team members.
On an individual level I think the most important, in any industry, is to be determined and open minded and take the opportunities that arise and come your way.
Cranesy: How do you keep yourself focused at work?
Susanna Schneeberger: There are two aspects that has helped me focus on what is important throughout my career and that is customer orientation and continuous improvement. I strongly believe that if we can create more value to our customers and help them be more successful we will as well. I also try to become better in what I do every day and I expect my team to do so as well. For me it is a question of mindset and of never becoming complacent.
In my daily work I strive to focus on one thing at a time and being present in what I currently do. Another good way is also to break things down in smaller pieces. It’s like they say with the elephant; you can only eat it in pieces.
Cranesy: The last book you read? Recommend some books to read.
Susanna Schneeberger: I read a lot, often a few books and articles in parallel – that is a way to relax and get new ideas for me. I like the Scandinavian crime genre and also all kind of biographies since I am interested in people and personal development.
“Harvard Business Review” gives me insights and inspiration for my job and “The Economist” keeps me up to date on business development around the world.
Cranesy: Historic words say: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” In your opinion, how crane and construction people can contribute to this sector, what together can we do?
Susanna Schneeberger: Let me modify this statement a little bit: Do not only ask what we can do in a technical way – also ask what else we can do for our customers – and do it!
Cranes and hoists are essential parts of the worldwide industrial development and during the last decades the crane sector changed from being a pure steel construction to become a provider of intelligent tools for many industries. With open ears to the markets we will bring more values and create new opportunities for our customers.
We have the benefit of having a large, highly professional global service organization who consults, supports and takes care of our customers’ needs in different ways and get feedback and input of what is important from our customers every day.
Cranesy: Are you facing new challenges in Crane Industry? Tell us about it.
Susanna Schneeberger: My personal new challenge is to lead the global Material Handling a part of Terex Corporation. With Demag we have a leading brand in the industrial crane business with a brilliant history and great potential. Our task is to strengthen this brand even further by meeting and exceeding customer expectations and by offering more value.
With launching new products we will continue our product offensive and break new ground in the market. Like we have done with the newly launched Demag V-type crane, which has already been honored two international innovation awards for its revolutionary product design, latest the “Red Dot” award.
For the whole industrial sector I think innovation is one of the biggest challenges. Internet of Things” or “Industry 4.0” or whatever we would like to call it will change business requirement more and quicker than we may think.
It is also clear that we can only achieve our ambitious goals together as a team. I am really happy to get the chance to lead a team with great members and customers from all over the world!
Cranesy: What do you love about your work in this sector?
Susanna Schneeberger: Industrial cranes and hoist are needed nearly everywhere in the world. Lifting and moving are basic functions of many productions and we help customers work safer and being more efficient. That also includes that the crane market offers a wide span of opportunities to support customers in different industries. And we are able to create solutions from a solo chain hoist up to process cranes with implemented intelligent systems that are embedded in the customer processes. I am also proud of our service organization that takes over installation, inspection, maintenance, training and much more to make sure our customers can focus on their core competencies and bringing value to their own customers.
Cranesy: Finish this sentece: Happiness is…
Susanna Schneeberger: …on a personal level my three children and my family and on a professional level it is to see the successful result of joint hard work. As a convinced team player I like to define challenges, create strategies, reach goals and win together.