Dirk Schallock, E.G.O.
Photo | E.G.O.
7 min.

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Sabine Walter in conversation with ...

Dirk Schallock, CEO of the E.G.O. Group

Mr Schallock, what do you love about your job?

That I have the freedom to shape the future. I love the international character of my job and that I can think about it every day, how I can lead a company sustainably and profitably into the future. For the E.G.O. it means that we bring all the skills we have in every phase of our value creation - from supply chain to innovation to distribution - to the customer every day. We need to be close to our customers and solve problems, that our end customers have, together. I would like this company to be, by the time I leave it, the absolute number one in household appliances worldwide and every customer who gets up in the morning and has a problem calls E.G.O. and asks for his problem to be solved. Leaving this legacy is what drives me.

What I still love about my job is feeling responsible for many people. I did not perceive this sense of responsibility at all in my first years of leadership. It has grown over the years. I have a very high responsibility towards my employees and their families, but also towards our suppliers and business partners. And I do my best every day to live up to this responsibility.

It helps me a lot that I not only have a high degree of creative freedom, but am also a person who has a strong creative drive. I love to question and strategically think things through. In every company I have ever run, two things have always been important to me: firstly, that I find the crown jewels that every company has and secondly, that we dominate our market, that we really understand the interplay of market-product-customer-technology. Because only then do we have a right to exist.

S.W.: When did you realise that designing was your central driver?

You certainly know the saying: you grow with your tasks. I was already a managing director at the age of 34, and in this function you have to want to shape things in order to move a company forward. That is a quality that always develops over time.

SW: With so much creative drive, there was never a desire to set up a company?

If I could turn back time, I would certainly consider what I could do on my own. But I have no regrets. Because I run all businesses as if they were my own, with the same passion, commitment and sense of responsibility.

I advise my children to think about self-employment or owning their own business because I find, that we need many more entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in Germany.

SW: Have you always wanted to follow this career path?

No. I originally wanted to become a professional officer with the parachute regiment or mountain troops. I passed the officer and pilot exams and then this career path was abruptly ended by a serious sports accident.

SW: In your various entrepreneurial challenges, what were the central factors for successful corporate change?

It goes without saying that every change and the associated strategy must be supported by the shareholders. It is therefore important to win them over.

But to run a company, authenticity is called for, honesty. A boss must be able to stand in front of his team and say what he thinks, explain emotionally. New structures, bare figures or changed processes will not inspire change. There has to be a spark, the spark of the target vision. Where do we want to go as a company? Why does it make sense? Employees need to be passionate about the company and proud of what they do. Above all, they have to believe that you, as the boss, fully stand behind what you say and are also convinced that the defined goal can be achieved.

S.W.: In what you have outlined, there are many parallels to what we do.

What are the topics in the field of personal and organisational development whose importance has remained unchanged for decades?

In my view, leadership is always about four central elements: clarity, empathy, trust and respect.

Organisational development is not primarily about the form of organisation. But today, like fifty years ago, it is a question of managers succeeding in forming a team that - as in sport - is emotionally connected to each other, acts as a team and stands up for each other. And it's about using people so that they feel comfortable in their respective roles and can do what they are really good at.

When do you get the best ideas?

In exchange with competent people. I love juggling ideas together with my experts. Those who know me know that I also like to provoke with the questions I ask. I do that deliberately. I want to break through thought patterns, get people out of their comfort zones, in order to perhaps find a solution that is even better than the previous one.

What will your profession look like in 2050?

What will really have changed in 2050? I think that two topics are shaping the future very strongly. One is digitalisation. This is already happening, but it will reach a much higher form; catchword: Big Data. The speed of IT will increase, artificial intelligence will prepare decisions much more than today. The level of transparency that we can create with available global data will be significantly higher than today's level.

Furthermore, sustainable action will continue to influence our lives. We must act today to give our future generations a chance to live well on earth.

Therefore, we will have to deal with sustainability in companies, in production, in products, in energy consumption, in mobility and also in private life much more intensively and comprehensively. Sustainable business and living will significantly change the orientation of companies, markets and consumer behaviour.

This also means that entrepreneurial understanding must change to the effect that companies make it their central task to produce sustainably and enable sustainable consumption. We need to move into a true circular economy, otherwise our life on this earth will have no future.

S.W.: Where would you like to be in 2050?

In Tuscany on a beautiful vineyard with my wife, my five children and their partners at a set table under a walnut tree in the courtyard.

Dirk Schallock, born in 1967, studied micro engineering in his hometown of Nuremberg. After successfully graduating, he started his professional career at the electric motor specialist Bühler Motor. There he rose through various positions to become managing director in 2002. Seven years later, he switched to sole managing responsibility at the head of ebm-papst St. Georgen and was a member of the group management. In 2017, Dirk Schallock was appointed CEO of the fastening technology specialist Fischer. Since January 1, 2019 Dirk Schallock has successfully guided the fortunes of the E.G.O. Group. Dirk Schallock is married and has five children.

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