Udo Eichlinger, CEO of Siemens Serbia

Focus On Competitive Advantages

There are many reasons why we have a factory in Subotica, one is because Subotica has always been a kind of incubator for industrial production of this kind

We maintain our relations with the Government on a continuous basis, which is necessary to drive growth opportunities and roadmaps forward and to ensure that Serbia is developing in Automation, Electrification and Digitisation.

In the past few years, Siemens has an increased number of employees in its wind generators factory in Subotica and expanded production capacities, so you must be satisfied with the business environment in Serbia. However, what would you, as an experienced manager, add to the programme of reforms that are underway?

Siemens was established more than 130 years ago, and our factory in Subotica exists for 13 years. In the beginning, it was just a small workshop with a few people. However, step by step, we grew, and we now have a total of more than 1,850 employees, of which 1,700 are employed in the factory in Subotica, and we are satisfied with the results.

However, with positive results you also need to prepare organisation and pay attention to global requirements, so we decided to transform that factory into a fully responsible contract manufacturer with all the related processes. We are exporting 100 per cent of our production abroad.

In parallel to the factory, we are working with our Divisions on the Serbian Market and surrounding markets.

This business is still volatile and we need to grow way beyond the levels of Serbian GDP growth. We are currently working within many strategic fields and bringing competences to Serbia that are actually required in order for a government to be able to make informed decisions and invest in the right technologies and fields.

And, yes, there are still investments that I find not to be based on an existing strategy, but instead based on actual needs.

You recently invited local companies to get involved in the network of Siemens’ suppliers. In which sectors do you see potential candidates and how was the response?

This is all in line with the transformation process of our factory. Shifting responsibility to Serbia also means establishing contacts with our suppliers. We currently have 350 suppliers, all of which are located abroad. Because of that, we are very interested in having suppliers from Serbia (or its surrounding markets) that will be involved in Siemens’ supplier network and will deliver parts to our factory in Subotica. The best companies should win these contracts, but this will also have a positive impact on the Serbian economy and support its further development.

The policy of our company is to create successful and sustainable business on our own, and this is the reason we have never taken over any government subsidiaries

How do you see Siemens’ business prospects in Serbia, both on the international and the domestic markets, now that Serbia, and especially Belgrade, envisages some new major investments?

We are active in four different divisions, plus healthcare, and in each, we see a positive ramping up of the project pipelines, but we need to focus on specific areas. New massive construction projects are going on in Belgrade, some of which are stunning. For example, the Belgrade Waterfront, as one of the largest projects, is progressing, and I see that it creates a positive impact on the city’s infrastructure.

Of course, there are other important infrastructure projects as well, that are raising the quality of life for citizens. Belgrade is on course to become a city that will have a lot of intelligent infrastructure projects in the years to come, and Siemens is there to offer its advanced technologies in that area.

The last business year was a successful one for Siemens. Considering economic and political developments, what kind of expectations do you have regarding the dynamics of the kind of large investments in which Siemens most commonly participates?

Our current business here is successful. We are not unhappy, but we have to point out that the market was also impacted by the fact that the government was restructuring for five months of this year. I am very proud that we made tremendous efforts in reaching our targets and also had an opportunity to work on projects abroad.

We see that all former Yugoslav countries are coming closer together in the eyes of certain investors and that there will be a kind of consolidation process. If you would like to be successful during industrialisation, then you should focus on something in which you really have competences and where you have a competitive advantage over other countries.