In this interview we discuss Diversity and Leadership Academy with Kontron AG’s Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board.
1. Claudia Badstöber, what is your role at S&T Group?
I am Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board at S&T Group, working alongside the Board of Directors. We help shape the Group’s overall direction and vision for the future as we transition to a more diverse, open business. I watched S&T Group CEO Hannes Niederhauser at the recent Capital Market Day, and he said that digitalization will change the world and that it is here to stay. We have developed our Vision 2030 with this in mind to help our customers evolve to a smarter world.
2. What is the S&T Group Leadership Academy?
The S&T Group Leadership Academy is an annual program that will provide a greater level of understanding of the company and other people within the Group. Starting in November 2021, the first applicants to the S&T Group Leadership Academy will take part virtually, with the program being held in-person in the future. CEO Hannes Niederhauser will welcome the participants and provide an introduction to the company and its overarching vision for the years ahead. About 20 employees will be attending our first academy, of which approximately 70% women and 30% men.
At S&T Group, we believe in building good relationships with our employees. We recognize that it is not always easy to find great people with the technical knowledge needed, but we believe we have talented and well-educated employees. We would love people to join S&T Group and stay with us for a long period in the future. But even if employees leave to go elsewhere, we hope they hold S&T close to their hearts. We hope to have played a key part in nurturing their careers and helped them build lifelong friendships along the way. Personally, being on the Supervisory Board, you don’t get to meet all the people from across the business, but I get to see first-hand how they are developing and growing.
3. What will the Leadership Academy bring to the company?
The academy will allow our employees to understand all the important areas of our business, from financial, legal and our IoT solutions. S&T Group’s Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) strategy is a core competency as the company continues to acquire companies from the IoT solutions segment. Therefore, subsequent positions within these companies may open, and undertaking the course within the Leadership Academy will allow our staff to be well-positioned in the qualification process if they wish to be considered for future job openings within the Group. The academy will help us to develop the leaders of the future within S&T Group.
The job market today is not easy, and it remains as difficult as ever to get the right person for the right job. We remain in competition with other IoT companies concerning talent acquisition. Therefore, it is essential that we mentor and develop our people and provide a vision for them to look ahead to what can be achieved in their career with us. The increased knowledge of our business and ability to network with other S&T Group colleagues from across the business is of critical importance. With more than 6,000 employees, getting to know others is crucial and the academy is helping bring together people from a host of working backgrounds such as technicians, sales and marketing. This strengthens the internal network of the company.
4. How is S&T Group becoming more diverse?
S&T Group is becoming more diverse by providing opportunities for women to embark on careers in technology, and the Leadership Academy is going some way in encouraging more women to apply for senior and middle management positions within the Group. We provide our staff with many opportunities and the ability to take on new challenges, and we hope to increase the proportion of women in decision-making positions in the future. Diversity at S&T Group is of critical importance to us, and individuality of our employees in conjunction with equal opportunities and respect for age, religion and gender, form our corporate culture.
In 2020, we had approximately 25.6% of female employees within the Group and being a female in an IoT company is not yet as common as being a female in industries such as marketing or HR. Only 3% of females say a career in technology is their first choice, according to PWC following a study interviewing 2,000 A-Level and university students. The same study found that only 16% of females have had a career in technology suggested to them. This goes some way in explaining why only 17% of women are currently ICT specialists in the technology industry.
S&T Group has launched a number of programs intended to attract more women to get involved in technical professions as early as possible. This includes our active participation in the annual “daughters’ days” in Austria, that gives girls aged between 11-16 the opportunity to discover the technical professions at local companies. We are also stepping up our participation in local initiatives to provide job opportunities for high school students, this includes internships at our facility in Augsburg, Germany. S&T Group regularly attends job fairs to represent our company, offering internships and supervised degrees to prospects.
We also have a diverse mix of ages within the Group, and it is our aim that we transfer our knowledge by exchanging ideas and information among all of our employees. In the Supervisory Board there are two female representatives out of five members, signaling the opportunities available for women at S&T Group. We are resolute in our determination for greater levels of diversity and seek to increase the number of female employees to a percentage between 30-40% of our total workforce in the future.