The opportunity to work on innovative projects in an international environment attracted Mr Jens Papperitz, 45, to join Siemens as a fresh engineering graduate 17 years ago.
Mr Papperitz started as an international management trainee in Siemens Germany and worked in several business units such as industrial solutions, water technologies and rail automation before being promoted to his current position as the chief executive officer of Siemens Medical Instruments (SMI) in Singapore.
SMI is the worldwide manufacturing and logistics headquarters and a major research and development hub for Siemens’ audiology solutions business. Its 8,000 sq m manufacturing plant is the designated centre of competence for the manufacture of Siemens hearing instruments.
The company’s audiology solutions business has subsidiaries in more than 20 countries around the world with customers in 85 countries. It is part of Siemens’ health-care sector, together with other divisions such as diagnostics, customer solutions, clinical products as well as imaging and therapy systems.
For Mr Papperitz, one of the highlights of being an engineer is seeing the successful completion of a project.
He explains: “The products or projects I work on as an engineer become my ‘baby’. There are few things in life that give me more pleasure than successfully completing a long engineering project and my ‘baby’ starts to walk.
“The most rewarding moments are seeing happy customers — elderly people or even children — regain their hearing through our products and being able to fully participate in social life again.”
Mr Papperitz also relishes the challenge in managing change in his organisation. He says: “It requires both decisive actions to push for the new and unknown, and a lot of compassion and communication to ensure the full buy-in of all staff.”
In the early part of his career, Mr Papperitz, who has a master’s degree in automation engineering from the University of Siegen in Germany, managed mostly large international automation projects.
When he felt he had hit a plateau, he decided to take a sabbatical. He says: “I realised that I had the passion and the personality for leading teams and managing budgets so I decided to enrol in a Master of Business Administration programme with Warwick Business School in the UK to acquire the management knowledge I was lacking.”
Mr Papperitz found that his training as an engineer complemented his newly acquired management skills.
“Engineers are trained to follow methodologies and to approach their jobs in a very sober, analytical way. This kind of training can be extremely beneficial as a manager in the sense that you often take a more comprehensive view, and not be carried away too easily. You avoid the ‘ready-shoot-aim’ mistakes in decision-making,” he says.
Working in different countries throughout his career has taught Mr Papperitz to be open-minded to different perspectives and to having his core beliefs constantly challenged.
Married with three children aged two to eight, he has lived in Singapore for one and a half years, and has found the engineers here to be excellent implementers.
He says: “The speed and quality of implementation — even in very complex projects — is sometimes still a miracle to me.”
To be a successful engineer, one must have curiosity and a passion for technology, coupled with good numerical and analytical skills, says Mr Papperitz.
He adds that with a significant increase in SMI’s research and development activities here, the company is hiring engineers with backgrounds such as mechanical design, electro-acoustic design, software development and manufacturing.
Mr Papperitz says: “Almost all our engineers work in international teams. For the best ones, there are good prospects to travel abroad and even spend some months or years in Europe.
“There are also various talent programmes for technical experts or future managers.
“As a company with diverse business in the fields of energy, industry, health care and infrastructure and cities, and presence in 190 countries worldwide, we can offer enormous growth opportunities within our Siemens family.”