Bereichsleiter Vertrieb und Entwicklung

“I appreciate the flat hierarchy here”

Robert Fiesel, Head of the Sales and Development division at Handtmann Systemtechnik GmbH & Co. KG

“I’m a graduate mechanical engineer and already had some experience as a design engineer and project leader in the automotive sector when I joined the Technical Sales division of Handtmann Metallgusswerk in 2007. I was initially given technical responsibility for the customer Volkswagen. In 2009, I took over the VW key account completely and also covered the commercial part. Handtmann Metallgusswerk and Systemtechnik collaborate very closely in this area, meaning that I represented both companies.

It was then decided that Handtmann Systemtechnik would get its own Sales division with a connected Development department in 2013 – which I was asked to set up as the new head of the Sales and Development division. My almost 20 employees and I are responsible for the sales, design and development of new products.

My primary responsibility is the strategic planning of the product and project portfolio. I’m also involved in strategy projects within Systemtechnik. I see my task as to make our expertise in systems engineering more accessible to our customers. I also see to it that we build up know-how so that we can play in a different league in five years’ time. On occasion, I still perform sales-related tasks, which I still enjoy as much as ever. For me, the big difference between sales and development is that I now collaborate with the customers as a partner, rather than just being the supplier.

Naturally, there’s a lot of competition. We’re up against some very large tier 1 suppliers, real global corporations. But we have very good people, who are highly motivated and don’t need four weeks to sort themselves out. Instead of writing requests and proposals, we can take decisions here in very little time. Only the management level is above us. So we can achieve a lot in a short space of time. I find that fun. Handtmann Systemtechnik is not a tanker but a speedboat. And this speed and flexibility also account for our success with the customers. Between 2013 and 2015, we more than doubled our sales. Of course, that’s not just down to me. But it’s great to be part of this success.

Handtmann gives qualified people the opportunity to develop themselves. Those who are committed and interested won’t go down a dead end but will always find a way to move forwards. I recently completed the two-year professional management programme of the Handtmann Group of Companies. We covered a lot of important topics. The programme is extremely professional and the trainers are excellent. An added bonus was that I was able to hook up with mangers from across the Handtmann companies and meet some interesting people.

I also appreciate the lean structures and flat hierarchy. I used to work for an American company, where I sometimes had to battle half a year for investments. At Handtmann, I can present my project to the management and a decision will be taken within a week. That also helps me to work independently and achieve my aims.”