This June marks Michael Dumke’s 10th OIversary as CEO. In order to mark the important milestone, we asked Michael to share how we have evolved over the past ten years, and what moments have stuck out for him.
Congratulations Michael! Even though this is your 10th year as CEO, does your history with OI not go back much farther?
Yes, in fact I started my career in OTTO buying in Hamburg before coming to Hong Kong as an OI management trainee in 1990. I worked briefly in Bangkok, Jakarta and Milan at that time too. In 2007 I left the Otto Group and started the operation at Lidl Hong Kong, eventually coming back to OI as CEO in 2011.
As you know the company so well, tell us what you think the key differences are between OI when you re-joined and now?
To put it briefly, in 2011 OI was a pure sourcing operation structured by its offices; there was a lack of collaboration across locations and a lack of a global mindset. Now we have both a global structure and mindset, a clear customer focus and have gradually moved from sourcing to value-added services.
Easier said than done, no doubt. How did we change as a company to accomplish this?
We can look at our change through two lenses: structural and cultural. Structurally, we created dedicated Key Account teams for our major customers and concentrated our supplier base to encourage a new level of integration amongst our various regions and function groups.
We also established two service-oriented subsidiaries over the past ten years: Astra Supply Chain Services and featuring LIMITED. Setting up Astra demonstrates compliance and sustainability are main pillars of OI’s business; featuring has become our competence centre for customised 3D virtual product development.
Our cultural change has looked at many different aspects of our business and has pushed us to be even more flexible and oriented towards people both in OI and in the organisations of our business partners. It is inspired by the Otto Group’s own Culture Change and is continuing to this day.
It began with determining our Winning Principles: four core competencies with the customer at the centre of everything we do. We then adopted the drive for a full digital transformation of our business, best demonstrated by our migration to Office 365. The COVID-19 pandemic was the proof of concept for this migration as it allowed us to continue to work safely and with unprecedented flexibility.
Furthermore, we now encourage a culture where everyone is open-minded to the input of others, and is respectful to their circumstances, a mentality formulated in our Values. Our digital transformation strives to allow us to work anytime, anywhere, but we also need our people to be willing to embrace that mindset.
We have made great strides with many of these initiatives over the recent years, even despite COVID, but the process is far from over. I don’t think it ever will be.
You make a good point: where do you think OI will be ten years from now?
For us the future is of course digital: we will continue to pursue 3D fit technologies and speed up our product development as much as possible. This is incredibly important for the online ordering market in particular, an increasingly large share of our business.
Additionally, our future goal is to ensure transparency and sustainability right from where the materials used in our suppliers’ products are made.
We also hope that we continue to further integrate our customers and our Key Account teams, so that we are able to fully understand our customer needs, and efficiently deliver on them.
Finally, on a personal note, what did you enjoy about the last ten years?
My favourite part of this job has always been travelling within the different markets and having that personal contact with our teams, vendors and customers. It is something that I have unfortunately missed out on quite a lot recently, but I am hopeful it will soon return.
One specific memory is the 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2016. Dr. Michael Otto and members of the Otto Group Executive Board attended, and it did much to boost OI’s reputation. Our teams from various locations, key vendors and business partners also joined to celebrate this special occasion
For me, true satisfaction in this role comes from feedback. Positive turnover and good customer responses are very much appreciated, but equally important for myself and the rest of our senior management team is hearing from our colleagues that OI is a good place to work.
I am also very proud of the whole OI team for what we have accomplished over these past ten years. The way OI looks today is a great achievement and getting here was truly a “team effort”.
Thank you for sharing Michael, and for your strong leadership over these past ten years.