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32 Mr Pajak, VOIT Automotive is a system supplier to the automotive industry with multinational operations and manufac- tures products for some of the largest OEMs and suppliers in the world. The VOIT Group has around 1,000 employees at its main location in St. Ingbert and em- ploys a total workforce of around 2,000 employees worldwide. The technology enterprise, with a longstanding tradition, develops and manufactures high-pre- cision, customized aluminium die-cast components with machine-finished func- tional surfaces and finished castings as well as modules and components using forming technology (stamping, drawing and roll-bending technology). The solu- tions range from product and process engineering, prototyping, toolmaking, manufacturing, surface finishing, assem- bly mounting and functional trials to just- in-time delivery of ready-to-install series production parts. You have been Chief Corporate Officer of VOIT Automotive since October 2020 and succeeded your father, who became a member of the Supervisory Board, as Managing Director. What initial conclu- sions do you draw as Managing Direc- tor after nine months during the corona pandemic? Christopher Pajak: The generation change in the management had been planned for some time and was then realised in Octo- ber 2020. In the last few years, I had already been involved in all strategic decisions in the company. Of course, my father continues to have a strong presence in the VOIT Group through his activities as a member of the Su- pervisory Board and as a Managing Partner of the parent company. After the global financial crisis of 2009, the corona pandemic and lockdown in spring 2020 was the second biggest global crisis within almost a decade which had a major impact on us as a corporate group. Yet, com- pared to the financial crisis, the pandemic significantly influenced both the supply and Interview VOIT Automotive: on the way to e-mobility and zero emissions Innovative capacity, agility and process expertise as key attributes in the transformation to electromobility and CO2 neutrality In an interview with OEM&Supplier, Christopher Pajak, Chief Corporate Officer of VOIT Automotive GmbH comments on the transformation process within the automobile industry, current developments and the outlook for the VOIT Group Image: © Alexander Kowalski demand situation on the global markets to the same degree. We had to cope with huge losses in turnover compared to the previous year 2019, largely without any opportunity for preparation. Irrespective of this, the auto- motive industry is in the process of the larg- est phase of transformation for decades as it moves towards electromobility and auton- omous driving. This transformation will re- quire an extremely large number of resourc- es, in particular human capital, as well as a high level of liquid assets for investments. In combination with the political discussion on tighter regulations regarding CO2 emissions and the targeted climate neutrality in the in- dustry, the situation on the market remains very challenging. From a personal point of view, I look back on the very intense months of the crisis with a positive attitude since we had already Christopher Pajak Chief Corporate Officer Managing Director elaborated various strategic, structural, operative and financial measures with the whole management team in 2019 and these have been stringently implemented or are now still being implemented. The implementation of the measures requires a lot of effort but the increased profitability, compared with the level before the crisis in 2019, validates our activities. In addition, on the basis of our order book, we are on a sus- tainable growth path that is characterized by electromobility. Can you give more details on the opera- tive measures that you mentioned? The difficult situation on the market or, to put it more precisely, the global sales situ- ation, already came to a head at the end of 2018, long before the pandemic. In Europe, Brexit and Dieselgate changed consumer behaviour and, in addition, the trade dispute affected the global demand for cars. The market conditions also meant that mar- gins in the supplier industry came under increased pressure. In order to counteract this development, we thoroughly examined the whole organization and, in mid-2019, we drew up corresponding measures for effi- ciency. Structurally, we optimized our over- heads. In close consultation with members of the works council and the unions, we drew up a “Pact for the Future“ for the employes which gives us a certain flexibility as a com- pany in paying out collectively agreed special payments, de- pending on the profitability. In return, the company agreed to make investments in the mid-double-digit million euro range in new projects in the field of electromobility and to provide a guarantee of employment. On the opera- tive side, we set up numer- ous partial projects of which some focus on measures to increase productivity, for example, while others are oriented toward optimizing