A man of change: Siemens retreader Joe Kaeser turns 65

A man of change
Siemens retreader Joe Kaeser turns 65

As a manager, Joe Kaeser has made his mark at Siemens like no other CEO before. Today he is mainly active as the head of the supervisory board – and also with controversial views on Twitter.

Joe Kaeser is a man for change. When the manager, now 65, took over Siemens in 2013, there was a large industrial group – which built large electric motors for submarines, as well as computer tomographs, controls for industrial equipment, gas turbines and wind turbines, trains and washing machines. Today there are three Siemens: the rump group with the original name, which is increasingly oriented towards digitization, the Siemens Healthineers medical technology group and the Siemens Energy energy technology group. And some other things, like washing machines, were sold.

Kaeser spent eight intense years at the helm of Siemens. He took over an unstable company in mid-2013, when his predecessor Peter Loescher had to suffer several profit warnings. Kaeser steered it towards the fast-growing business areas of digitalization, automation and electrification and drove the group back to profit, even with a heavy hand and painful cuts like job cuts.

But that wasn’t enough for him. Kaeser wanted to take the plunge and turn the tanker into several speedboats, to use an image he likes to use. And so the spin-offs came: first from Siemens Healthineers, then from Siemens Energy. Six months later, Kaeser left the executive chair: differently than his two predecessors, he was organized, quiet, and planned well in advance.

Kaeser has also changed. His name also reflects this: when he was born in Arnbruck, Lower Bavaria, he was still called Josef Käser. But his career at Siemens, which began in 1980, took him to the United States, among other places, from where he returned with no umlauts in his name and as Joe. He has also become a politically engaged citizen of the world, chairs the Advisory Council of the Munich Security Conference. And he repeatedly takes a clear stance against the right on Twitter, which has already brought him death threats in the past. He doesn’t regret most of his tweets, Kaeser once told the “Nürnberger Nachrichten”. “I think it’s important to position yourself on certain issues. But then you have to live with the consequences.”

Kaeser shouldn’t be bored

Kaeser also comments on Siemens’ development on Twitter. You can often read between the lines that he still sees his decisions behind many positive developments. It might be true: Siemens weathered the Crown crisis just fine. And the core group should be happy to hold only a minority stake in Siemens Energy, which suffers from its struggling subsidiary Siemens Gamesa.

When General Electric decided to split into three companies last year, it must have been a celebration for Kaeser to see his old rival chart its course. Either way, on Twitter he congratulated the GE boss on the “smart move” – ​​not without reminding him that he did. Kaeser shouldn’t have been bored for more than a year since he left the presidency.

As Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens Energy, he oversees a company that currently needs to reinvent itself – this time, however, not through a spin-off, but through a full acquisition and integration of the ailing wind division of the worth billions. And with Daimler Trucks – again the head of the supervisory board – Kaeser has another heavyweight just hatched under his wing. However, there is nothing more to divide in the group created by the separation from Daimler.

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