What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID–19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail email@example.com.
CEO, LSG Group
Day 24 of working from home
Date of writing: April 15
Are you in lockdown right now?
Yes, Germany is still in lockdown until May 3.
Where are you writing from?
I am at home with my family in Düsseldorf, using different spots in our house as my office space: The dining table, for example – or my daughter’s desk when I need silence for Skype calls.
How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” communicating with your team?
Frankly speaking, I have never been a big supporter of working from home. I prefer the real interaction with people, the personal exchange of ideas and thoughts. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how we’ve all managed to stay in touch and how well our internal processes are being followed. Some of our teams are even sharing online lunches together.
“We should not limit ourselves by thinking the way we’ve been used to, but rather show courage and the will to try something new.”
What news outlets are you following?
I am following a number of international media outlets. In particular, the Spanish media because they represent an extreme case within Europe. CNN is my source of information for the North American market. I also follow official scientific bodies like the Robert Koch Institute and the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
How are you passing time?
When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my family. This lockdown has provided me with the precious opportunity to be more involved in the daily life of my children, in which I am normally not during the week.
Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
2019 was a record year in terms of revenue for us. We also anticipated finding a new shareholder for our international LSG business in 2020 that would support our strategy and be ready to invest in it.
Can you share some specific challenges your business has faced as a result of the outbreak? How did you overcome them and how can the industry learn from your experiences?
Due to all the flight restrictions and fleet groundings, plus reduced service levels on board, we’ve had to temporarily ramp down several of our facilities around the world. This had to happen in a quick, but in a process-oriented manner. In addition to the effects on our normal business, the sales activities for our international LSG Group business had to be put on hold. In such uncertain times, the most important leadership task in my view is to remain calm and maintain the communication flow with your staff. Besides that, our focus is clearly on securing our liquidity – this will be key to managing the crisis.
How can we, as an industry, work together and rebound from this unprecedented crisis?
We have to be positive and open our minds to the opportunities the crisis might offer. Maybe we can find new ways of working together. The point is, we should not limit ourselves by thinking the way we’ve been used to, but rather show courage and the will to try something new.
Where do you see your company or the industry in six months from now? One year?
It will take months, or most likely, even years. Maybe there will even be a complete reset within our business. The market will definitely be smaller, which will increase competition. As a market leader, we are already in contact with several of our customers, making plans to provide them with adequate solutions for their ramp-up and beyond.
What’s one thing that will never be the same again for commercial aviation?
In my view, there will have to be new processes at airports, for example at check-in, because the social distancing issue will be with us for quite some time. I also believe that the meaning of globalization will be recalibrated and redefined.