Interview with Mr Thomas Holenia, President of Henkel Singapore and Corporate Vice President, Global Purchasing, Henkel
Have you ever wondered if tomorrow’s graduates are ready for the future industry? Strategic thinkers of major corporations, such as Henkel, are already embracing ways to prepare for the future, and are looking at developing talent pool to reach their goals.
“As a global company, Henkel is keen to contribute to the upskilling of talents in Singapore, such as providing talented students with an immersive learning experience. Last year, eight Masters and final-year undergraduate students participated in two research projects at our Global Supply Chain hub pertaining to purchasing, logistics, and regional processes and operations,” says Mr Thomas Holenia, President of Henkel Singapore and Corporate Vice President, Global Purchasing, Henkel.
In this issue of Supply Chain Asia magazine, Thomas will share his role in the company, as well as his thoughts on talent development and management strategy.
Thomas, you are currently holding multiple portfolios. Can you share how these roles overlap one another?
In Purchasing, one of our goals is to get closer to our growing customer and supplier base in the emerging regions, such as Asia Pacific. Additionally, it is a priority to develop and equip our regional and local teams with global mindsets and expertise. For these reasons, Henkel has moved global roles, such as mine, to Asia Pacific.
As the President of Henkel Singapore, my responsibility extends beyond the Purchasing team. With people development as a top priority, we aim to develop strong leaders at every level of the organisation. To support this, we actively promote an inclusive and entrepreneurial work culture based on greater empowerment and collaboration.
Another focus area is advancing the sustainability agenda, and I am proud of our employees’ efforts to teach young children about sustainable habits through our Sustainability Ambassador Program. In summary, my goal is to establish Henkel as a global centre of excellence and an employer of choice in Singapore.
Henkel recently opened a global supply chain hub in Singapore to secure the company’s long-term competitiveness. Almost one year later, what is the report card for this project?
With the strong support of our Global Supply Chain Headquarters in Amsterdam, we have made tremendous progress in building the Global Supply Chain Hub in Singapore into a global centre of excellence for supply chain management, sustainability, digitalisation and talent management.
• We have qualified all our strategic regional suppliers in Asia Pacific under the “Together for Sustainability” initiative.
• The steering team of Industry 4.0 has piloted the smart factory concept at 10 Adhesive Technologies locations in Asia Pacific. From industry peers and customers who visited our smart factories, the response has been highly positive and our Industry 4.0 programme is well-recognised.
• The Adhesive Technologies Operations and Supply Chain team has also set up a traded goods hub in Singapore to manage the logistics and distribution of products to Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
• Additionally, a digital hub for South Asia has been established within the Global Supply Chain Hub in Singapore. The team is tasked with identifying promising start-ups with digital and technological expertise and working with universities on joint programmes to accelerate digitalisation within Henkel.
Does Henkel have a research and development (R&D) team for innovation? If yes, how big is it? If not, why?
On an annual average, around 2,700 employees worked in research and development. This corresponds to around five per cent of the total workforce. Our teams are composed of natural scientists – predominantly chemists – as well as material scientists, engineers and technicians. Expenditures by the Henkel Group for R&D in fiscal 2016 amounted to €463m, and accounted for 2.5 per cent of total sales.
What are your thoughts on the talent pool in the region? How does it compare to talent in Europe?
In Asia Pacific, there is a strong pool of world-class supply chain talent. This underpins our decision to establish our Regional Purchasing hub in Shanghai and our Global Supply Chain Hub in Singapore.
Take the example of our Global Supply Chain Hub in Singapore, where our focus is to establish a team comprising a mix of local and regional experts. During the start-up phase, we brought together existing expertise from different countries within the company. As we ramp up activities, we have successfully hired locals through our collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
At the same time, as a global company, Henkel is keen to contribute to the upskilling of talents in Singapore, such as providing talented students with an immersive learning experience. Last year, eight Masters and final-year undergraduate students participated in two research projects at our Global Supply Chain hub pertaining to purchasing, logistics, and regional processes and operations.
What is Henkel’s talent development and management model?
As part of our focus to develop strong leaders, Henkel has introduced five leadership principles, which describe the attributes expected of managers. The five principles are: lead myself, lead team, lead performance, lead stakeholders and lead change. They relate to the abilities to adapt and innovate, manage changes and complex relationships, make decisions and inspire teams.
Based on these leadership principles, the performance and potential of every manager as a leader is assessed annually in a series of reviews, called Development Round Tables. After that, supervisors discuss the results with the managers during the Development Dialogue to facilitate personal and professional development, and long-term career planning.
For our top talents, Henkel offers a leadership development concept, called “Triple Two”, which is based on job-rotation to two different roles, two countries and two business units. From these experiences, they gain an indepth understanding about international business and sharpen their management skills by learning to balance cultural sensitivities with meeting job demands.
These initiatives have led to more than 1,100 promotions at the managerial level and more than 400 international job rotations in 2016, globally.
With more of supply chain operations being managed autonomously, what must the next generation of supply chain talent offer to remain relevant?
At Henkel, we are moving towards a global supply chain model, where we will standardise Henkel’s purchasing, production and logistics processes across three business units: Adhesive Technologies, Beauty Care, and Laundry and Home Care. This harmonisation across the entire company will lead to higher process standardisation, improved customer service levels, enhanced efficiency, and greater sustainability.
For this, we need people who have a global mindset, good international business sense, a high degree of adaptability in an increasingly volatile environment, and the ability to collaborate across cultures.
Henkel’s Industry 4.0 Project
Rolf Knoerzer, Vice President of Adhesive Operations and Supply Chain, Henkel Asia Pacific
In Asia Pacific, we have implemented the smart factory concept at 10 adhesives production sites. This allows us to tap the knowledge of our big data gathered from our manufacturing sites. By analysing these data and converting them into insights and intelligence, we want to revolutionise the way we manufacture and sell. An example is creating new types of adhesives that perfectly fit to customer demands.
Today, Industry 4.0 is an important topic for most, if not all, leading manufacturing companies around the world.
We implemented a Manufacturing Execution System (MES), which has provided us with a fully transparent and connected environment across the 10 plant sites – covering the end-to-end processes of a factory. MES has helped to drive continuous improvement, enable a lean culture, and increase efficiency. For example, a warehouse team at Henkel’s Dragon Plant in Shanghai, China, improved its receiving cycle time from over 100 minutes per truck to 13 minutes, supporting a 76 per cent increase in manufacturing output.
Additionally, we have managed to improve service levels significantly, and earn the positive feedback of our customers. Our capability in steering Industry 4.0 has been a unique selling point for Henkel that further cements our leadership position in the global adhesives industry.