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Continuity and change: the Supervisory Board Chairmen of Siemens AG since 1966 have a decisive influence on the development of the company.
Gerhard Cromme studied law and economics from 1962 to 1971 at Münster, Lausanne, Paris and Harvard. A native of Lower Saxony, he began his career with the French industrial group Compagnie de Saint-Gobain. In 1986 he moved to the Krupp Group, initially as CEO at Krupp Stahl AG in Bochum, and later as Chairman and Chief Executive of Fried. Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp in Essen. In 1999, he was one of the initiators of the merger between Krupp and Thyssen to form ThyssenKrupp AG, where he and former Thyssen manager Ekkehard Schulz were joint CEOs until September 2001. He was then elected Chairman of the Supervisory Board, an office in which he served until 2013.
Cromme has been a member of the Supervisory Board of Siemens AG since January 23, 2003, and assumed the board chair on April 25, 2007. The first years of his tenancy as Chairman of the Supervisory Board were dominated by managing the compliance crisis jointly with a new Managing Board headed by Peter Löscher. Since that time, by appointing Joe Kaeser in August 2013 and supporting the company’s refocusing under Vision 2020, Gerhard Cromme and the Supervisory Board have made an important contribution toward stability at Siemens.
To Werner von Siemens, responsibility meant taking a long-term orientation rather than short-term profits, and supporting social balance rather than confrontation. Those principles still apply at Siemens today.
Heinrich von Pierer
Heinrich v. Pierer studied law and economics at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. He joined Siemens in 1969 and began his professional career in the legal department. In 1977, Pierer moved to the power generation company Kraftwerk Union AG (KWU), which was then an independent entity. In 1988, he was appointed head of business administration at KWU, which had then become part of Siemens, and a member of its Group Executive Management. The following year, he was appointed President of KWU and a member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. Pierer was appointed to Siemens’ Corporate Executive Committee in 1990 and Deputy Chairman of its Managing Board in 1991. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens AG from October 1, 1992, to January 27, 2005.
With Pierer at the helm, Siemens was transformed from a company that was largely focused on public-sector customers in regulated markets into a global competitor that was increasingly forced to meet shareholder expectations. Under his leadership, sweeping programs were introduced to master this transition. These programs culminated in the Siemens Management System with three key strategic topics – innovation, customer focus and global competitiveness – and in a set of concrete management tools whose application was mandatory company-wide. Pierer also ensured that Siemens’ business portfolio was continually reviewed. All businesses were to occupy leading market positions. If a unit didn’t perform as expected, there were only five options: fix, buy, cooperate, sell or close.
Pierer was elected to the Supervisory Board at the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on January 27, 2005, and held the position of Supervisory Board Chairman until April 25, 2007.
Karl-Hermann Baumann joined Siemens in 1970 after obtaining a doctorate in business administration. He began his career in the company’s Central Finance Division, where he worked initially in the areas of financial reporting and financing. From 1978 until 1982, he was Senior Vice President of Siemens Capital Corp. in the U.S. After returning to Germany in 1983, Baumann was appointed head of financial reporting in the Corporate Finance Division.
In the summer of 1987, he was appointed Deputy Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. As head of the Corporate Finance Department, he was a member of the company’s Central Committee, and following Siemens’ reorganization in 1989, of its Corporate Executive Committee. During his ten years as Siemens CFO, Karl-Hermann Baumann made a key contribution to the electrical engineering company’s international orientation. He also laid the financial groundwork for its expansion. By establishing Siemens Kapitalanlagegesellschaft, a capital investment company, in 1993 and Siemens Financial Services in 1997, he reoriented the Finance Division.
On February 19, 1998, Baumann moved to the Supervisory Board, of which he was Chairman until January 27, 2005.
After obtaining a doctorate in electrical engineering, Hermann Franz began his Siemens career in 1957 as a sales engineer at Siemens-Schuckertwerke in Essen, Germany. In the following years, he headed a number of Siemens businesses in the area of energy technology before being appointed to head Sherhate Sahami, Siemens’ Iranian subsidiary in Teheran. A year later, he was appointed head of Zentralverwaltung Ausland, the central administrative unit for Siemens’ business activities outside Germany.
In 1980, Franz was appointed Deputy Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG. Starting in 1985, he headed the Electrical Installations and Automotive Systems Group and, in this capacity, was also a member of the company’s Central Committee. Three years later, he was appointed to head the Corporate Planning and Development Division. In this position, he was instrumental in shaping Siemens’ new organizational structure, which was rolled out in 1989. In the same year, he was appointed to the company’s Corporate Executive Committee.
Franz became Chairman of the Supervisory Board, effective March 11, 1993. He left the Board on February 20, 1998, ending a 40-year career. Hermann Franz died on October 7, 2016, at the age of 87.
Heribald Närger, who held a doctorate in law, joined Siemens in 1963 after working for the Bayerische Vereinsbank. He was appointed a deputy member of the Managing Boards of both Siemens & Halske and Siemens-Schuckertwerke. After the establishment of today’s Siemens AG and his appointment as a full member of the Siemens Managing Board, Närger headed the Central Finance Department from 1968 to 1988. As CFO, he adjusted the company’s financial management at an early stage to meet the requirements of a global company.
After 25 years of service on Siemens’ Managing Board, Heribald Närger was appointed Chairman of the company’s Supervisory Board in March 1988. In this position, he supported Siemens’ comprehensive organizational reform in 1988/1989. Närger left the Supervisory Board at the end of his term of office on March 11, 1993 after a 30-year career at the company. He died on April 26, 2015, in Grünwald near Munich.
A vision has the effect of shaping the corporate culture, in other words the way employees think, decide and act.
Bernhard Plettner was first employed at Siemens in 1937, when he interrupted his studies at the Technical University of Darmstadt for a semester to work as an intern at Siemens-Schuckertwerke in Berlin and Mühlheim / Ruhr, Germany. Upon completing his university degree, he returned to the company’s Industry Department in Berlin in 1940. There, he first worked as a project engineer, designing and marketing industrial and power systems in and outside Germany.
After the war, Plettner put this experience to good use in helping rebuild the company’s export business. Six years later, he was appointed head of the planning department for the raw materials industry. This department was responsible, among other things, for the construction of the Rourkela steel mill in India – the company’s first major export project in post-war Germany.
In 1959, Bernhard Plettner was appointed to the Managing Board of Siemens-Schuckertwerke. In 1961, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Board and, in 1962, its Chairman. After the establishment of Siemens AG, he was first a member of its new three-man Presidency, then Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board. In 1971, he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens AG. In 1981, Plettner was the first person from outside the Siemens family to be appointed Chairman of the Supervisory Board, a position he held until 1988. Bernhard Plettner died in Erlangen, Germany, on November 2, 1997.
Peter von Siemens
Peter von Siemens was a great-grandson of the company’s founder. In 1934, after obtaining a doctorate in economics, he began working as an intern at Siemens & Halske in Berlin. In 1936, he joined Siemens-Reiniger-Werke, where he was responsible for managing the sale of medical engineering products in Brazil and Argentina. In 1940, he was appointed to head the company’s Argentine business in order to establish a factory for X-ray and electro-medical equipment in Buenos Aires. He was interned in Buenos Aires and did not return to Germany until 1948.
In 1950, Peter von Siemens moved to Siemens-Schuckertwerke in Erlangen, Germany, where he worked in the central sales administration department. He was appointed department head in 1957. In 1959, he was appointed to the Managing Board of Siemens-Schuckertwerke. Four years later, he joined the company's Supervisory Board. In 1967, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Siemens AG. He was Chairman of the Board from 1971 to 1981.
In addition to his activities at the company, Peter von Siemens held a large number of honorary political and business positions. Before the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal, he was appointed the German General Commissioner for the event.
Ernst von Siemens
Ernst von Siemens was the son of Carl Friedrich von Siemens and the youngest grandson of Siemens’ founder Werner von Siemens. A physicist, he began work at Siemens & Halske’s Wernerwerk für Fernmeldetechnik, the company’s telecommunications facility, in Berlin in 1929. He was appointed a deputy member of the Managing Board of Siemens & Halske in 1943, a full member of the Board in 1948 and Chairman of the Board in 1949. He was appointed a deputy member of Siemens-Schuckertwerke’s Managing Board in 1945 and a full member of the Board in 1948. Between 1956 and 1971, he served as Chairman of the Supervisory Boards of both parent companies and of Siemens AG. Even after resigning as Chairman, Ernst von Siemens remained a member of the Supervisory Board until 1978 and served thereafter as a member of its Council of Honorary Chairmen.
Ernst von Siemens played a vital role in rebuilding the company after World War II. Primarily by reviving Siemens’ international business, he laid the basis for its successful reentry into the world markets. It was under his leadership that Siemens & Halske AG, Siemens-Schuckertwerke AG and Siemens-Reiniger-Werke AG were merged in 1966 to form today’s Siemens AG.
In addition to his managerial responsibilities, Ernst von Siemens was an active supporter of science and the arts. Today, he is best-known for the foundations he established.
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