From a workshop with ten people in Berlin, Siemens was a forerunner of the start-up. It has become a global technology company thanks to innovation, openness to new ideas, willingness to learn and adapt to changing circumstances, responsible business and the knowledge and competence of its employees
Medeja Lončar is the first person to head three regional Siemens companies. In Slovenia, she has held the position for 15 years, in Croatia for four, and in Serbia for one year. In her thirty-five-year career, she was part of the management of reputable Slovenian and international companies in mobile communications, retail and industry. During her nearly twenty-year career at Siemens, she has been actively involved in many strategic projects in these countries and in the entire Adriatic region. Medeja Lončar speaks with CorD about the current situation, ongoing development, but also about Serbia’s chances for development and the impact of digitalization on the world.
You are one of the few companies that combines tradition and innovation, and this year you are celebrating 175 years of the company’s existence. What does such an important jubilee mean and what happens afterwards?
There are many companies that have not changed their core business and adapted to the times… If Siemens had continued to produce only the indicator telegraph, the first invention of our founder Werner von Siemens back in 1847, our company would have been shorter-lived. Today, Siemens has around 33 inventions submitted daily to the European Patent Office, which confirms our constant intention to make the world a better place with our solutions.
Today we are focused on industry, infrastructure, transport and healthcare. From automation and digitalization in the process and manufacturing industry, smart infrastructure and solutions for energy distribution and energy systems to transport solutions for rail and road traffic and medical technology and digital health services. We connect the real and digital worlds in all energy systems, buildings and industries, improving the way we live and work and we greatly improve efficiency and sustainability. We work together with customers and partners to create an ecosystem that will intuitively respond to people’s needs, while also helping customers achieve their business goals. In this way, we contribute to the success of customers and the progress of communities, and also support sustainable development to preserve our planet for future generations.
From the very beginning, your company has been ahead of the times, creating world-changing innovations. Is there a greater challenge before you today – to create innovations that will save the world?
Ever since it was founded, Siemens has been driven by the idea of improving the lives of people around the world with the help of technology. That has not changed even today, when our motto is to create “technology with purpose” because we believe that all investment in new technologies should be directed to areas that will help our planet and improve life.
We at Siemens believe that the digital transformation includes the transformation of people and management, not just the development of digital solutions. So we have also prepared our people for the coming times – their awareness, knowledge, way of thinking
Sustainable development is one of the strategic goals of Siemens’ business, both globally and locally. The fourth industrial revolution that we are living through practically represents an industry without borders, made possible precisely by sustainable digital production. It has multiple benefits, from innovative products, through cost reduction, to a major reduction of negative environmental impact, all of which together contribute to the creation of successful business models in a sustainable, circular economy.
In addition to innovative solutions for the preservation of the environment, do you as a company also give your contribution to environmental protection by personal example?
In the critical moments that the planet is facing, we are guided by the awareness that we are making our contribution with our effort, work, personal example and innovative technologies. Siemens is one of the first companies that seven years ago committed to be carbon neutral by 2030. So far, we have reduced CO2 emissions by 34% in our facilities and factories, we have invested 65 million euros in energy efficiency projects, which resulted in about 13 million in savings per year, and 78% of the energy in our business premises comes from renewable sources.
In June last year, we defined even more ambitious sustainable development goals through the DEGREE framework, which includes a complete transition to electric vehicles, the use of energy exclusively from renewable sources, and a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from our suppliers. These goals are very demanding, but they are also an opportunity for development. We are proud that, according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 2021, Siemens is the first in its industry group, and sustainability remains a business imperative and an integral part of the company’s strategy.
Due to the global energy crisis, the issue of energy transition is increasingly coming to the fore, and there is also a need to stop climate change? Is it possible to find technological solutions to these problems?
We live in times that are both fast and unpredictable, in which we depend a lot on world circumstances, but the fact is that advanced technologies are the answer to some of those changes. Innovation and digitalization are really critical to completely redefining industries and economies, all over the world. A green, circular economy is not feasible without innovative solutions that will connect our real, physical world with the one we create in the digital domain. Siemens is one of the few technology leaders that brings those two worlds together, offering a synergy of hardware and software solutions that provide users with faster and more flexible operational processes, smart solutions that offer better productivity or infrastructure with efficient use of energy, and all this without compromise on cyber security. This is of course a process, and change cannot happen overnight, but it is important that we all understand that there is really no alternative, because we only have one planet to live on.
As a director for three countries, can you tell us what the business environment of Serbia is like in relation to Croatia and Slovenia and what needs to be improved?
What is certain is that Serbia has a well-educated and professionally trained workforce that creates, understands and knows how to apply modern technologies. This is a huge value for every economy, including the Serbian one, especially in the context of the great investment potential in many branches of industry, not only technological. Examples from practice confirm this. During the last 10 years, “Siemens” has invested more than 10 billion euros in the acquisition of software companies, and two such companies have their own teams in Serbia with high-quality local IT experts.
And in areas that need to be improved as a candidate country for membership, Serbia has already started implementing EU regulations, such as a National plan for renewable energy sources. Serbia has also committed itself to EU climate neutrality goals until 2050 and mid-term goals for the country in the use of coal, as well as plans related to reducing CO2 emissions.
EBRD, KfW, IPA and the World Bank have financed several projects of modernization and rehabilitation of thermal power plants, energy efficiency projects and the use of renewable energy sources. It is very important that we continue to work on these projects and goals defined by the state, but also for the private sector to commit to change because there will be no change if we are not all united in preserving the environment.