Siemens is nothing less than a technology heavyweight across a range of industries and has, in recent years, reached new heights thanks to the tireless efforts of Roland Busch.
This model leader has been in charge since the early part of 2021, when he stepped up from the role of Deputy CEO.
By this stage, Busch had already sealed his status as a company legend having worked his way up the corporate ladder over the course of three decades.
Without his countless contributions, Siemens may never have grown to become the European and worldwide giant it is today.
Erlangen born and bred
Roland Busch was born and grew up in the West German city of Erlangen, which he has previously described as having “a lot of advantages” and an “extremely high” quality of life.
His father was a primary school principal and his mother worked at a local bank prior to becoming a stay-at-home to look after young Roland and his elder brother, who also works at Siemens.
Busch went to school in Erlangen and quickly developed a passion for mathematics and science. He chose to pursue physics at Friedrich Alexander University (FAU), also known as the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, where he also received his doctorate, and went on to continue his studies in Grenoble, France.
Erlangen is a place that remains dear to Busch’s heart. To this day he still lives there with his wife, although he now has a second home in close proximity to the Siemens headquarters in Munich.
A Siemens legend
A look at Busch’s CV suggests he was destined to work for Siemens, the company he joined as a Project Head for the Corporate Research and Development department back in 1994.
In the ensuing years he progressed rapidly through the ranks to assume senior roles in automotive strategy and process management, before being promoted to CEO of Business Unit Infotainment Solutions in 2005.
With leadership clearly in his DNA, Busch went on to head up numerous divisions of the business, including in the Asia-Pacific region, but was ultimately destined for the very top.
After impressing in various C-level positions – CTO, COO and Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) among them – his ascension was almost complete when he was appointed Deputy CEO in 2019.
Then, following an 18-month leadership succession process, Busch eventually replaced fellow Siemens veteran Joe Kaeser as CEO. He is ably supported by CFO Ralf Thomas, another senior leader to join the business in the mid-90s.
Speaking after his appointment was officially announced in February 2021, Busch spoke of having a “great sense of responsibility and humility”, while also looking ahead to a “decade of opportunities” where Siemens leads industry, infrastructure, transportation and healthcare into the digital age.
The one-company man has been lauded by colleagues for – among other things – his profound grasp of technology, entrepreneurial successes and team-oriented approach to leadership.
In the 2020 book, Beyond Great, which offers strategies designed to help leaders thrive in a post-COVID world, Busch says: “The leader has to define what the company stands for, which goes above and beyond the latest and greatest technology, and [he or she has] to give something meaningful to the company.”
Creating a sustainable future
Busch has made it his mission to ensure Siemens remains positioned at the forefront of technology and digital transformation.
This is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact a staggering 92% of Fortune 500 industry companies use its software. What’s more, in the last decade, the firm has invested no less than US$15.4bn in digital companies.
Busch says himself that Siemens’ commitment to creating technologies with purpose across infrastructure, transportation and healthcare is what attracted him to the company – and also explains why he never left.
However, as is customary at Siemens, virtually all its digital transformation activities are aligned with efforts to preserve the future of the planet. Sustainability is deeply embedded across all functions and influences almost every decision.
In recent times, Busch has helped push the company’s ESG commitment to the next level with the DEGREE framework, a 360-degree approach aimed at catering for all stakeholders including customers, suppliers, investors, employees, society and the planet.
Co-writing the foreword of Siemens’ 2022 sustainability report alongside CSO Judith Wiese, he said: “We firmly believe that technology is the answer to creating a sustainable future. By combining the real and the digital worlds, we can solve the challenges of our times and meet the needs of our customers.”
Roland Busch is a leader masterfully striking the right balance between advancing his organisation from a technological perspective and staying sensitive to environmental issues.
After almost 30 years of exemplary service, few would be surprised if he managed 30 more.