Pursuing a Career in Line With Your Values
Interview with Lucretia Löscher, Vice President Transformation & Projects at Siemens Energy
This interview was first published in July 2020.
Lucretia Löscher is the Vice President of Transformation & Projects at Siemens Energy, located in Munich. Over the course of her career she has followed her intuition and worked in different companies, gaining extensive knowledge in various industries. In this interview she talks about how she left law for business, discovered HHL through a friend and why focusing on your values makes you a more effective leader.
“Be open to completely unexpected opportunities. They may change your life in ways you could never anticipate.”
What does your job as vice president entail and what are you looking forward to?
I am responsible for two essential parts of our business. We are the spearhead for the energy transition. We develop sustainable energy systems for and with our industrial customers and Oil & Gas customers. The result is a reduction of emissions by up to 80% and less water consumption. Another group in my team is the productivity office for our Division. We drive cost out and cash optimization for an 7 billion EUR organization.
I am excited by both parts because one is creating more positive impact on our climate and generally on environmental protection than what I could achieve in many other functions and companies and the other requires my full business understanding and how we improve our setup and processes to optimize spending and ultimately the return on capital employed.
Before joining HHL you completed your studies of law. What made you decide to switch careers and why did you decide on HHL?
Throughout my studies of law, I financed myself by working at Porsche. The collaboration with many different functions in a company was eye-opening and a much more energizing perspective than a sole focus on a career as a lawyer. At the same time a friend of mine, Jana, studied Business and told me about HHL and her application. She was absolutely convinced about the quality of the education, the great international environment and the door-opening effect of a diploma or master from HHL.
While I did my pre-diploma at the distance learning university in Hagen and finished my second state legal exam, I came to the same conclusions and got passionate about the idea to study at HHL.
How has studying at HHL influenced your career up to this point?
It was quite influential to find my first employer. Siemens Management Consulting (SMC) was recruiting at HHL and invited me for an interview right after my return from the term abroad in Paris. I never thought consulting was for me, but I had the opportunity to advise the City of Paris in a benchmarking project and Siemens Management Consulting offered the best of two worlds – joining one of the most innovative industrial companies and getting access to a strong consulting skill set.
It was the right stepping stone for where I am today. Moreover, I also believe my majors in Entrepreneurship and Strategy contributed to two very relevant skills in my daily work – pragmatic problem solving and conflict management.
“Focusing on values made me a more effective leader because people don’t care how much you know and how smart you are, until they recognize how much you care and why you care.”
Over the course of your career you have made not just one, but many courageous decisions to go with your heart and change industries and responsibilities. What helped you follow your unique path?
When I studied and during my assignment at SMC, I thought people should value my intellectual capabilities and contribution. It took me some courage and listening to the wisdom of great people around me to change my believes and to base my way of working on a set of values which I make transparent to our organization. Those values allow me to lead myself, to work towards my higher purpose and thus to have a strong inner axis.
You may wonder why this is relevant for my career choices. I am completely authentic. I am not afraid to make mistakes. I am not paralyzed by the fact that I need to make important decisions quickly, because I trust in the values those decisions are based upon. Interestingly, focusing on values made me a more effective leader because people don’t care how much you know and how smart you are, until they recognize how much you care and why you care.
I am grateful that the people I work with trust me and my decisions. In General Management you don’t need to be the expert. You need to enable your teams and you need to ask the right questions, none of both is specific to an industry or function.
Some people believe that you can strategically plan your career. Would you agree with that? What tips and advice can you pass on to graduates entering the job market?
Generally, it is good to be aware about your own preferences and what you want to achieve in life. Career plans can work out or not. I have friends who planned for a career and followed the plan. Others started well and recognized on the way that their priorities changed.
My ambition did not change but I can say that none of my career plans worked out. I had to acknowledge that the amount of determining factors is almost endless. In my case, new bosses, unexpected job opportunities (aka network) and to some extend luck were the most relevant disruptive forces.
“My ambition did not change but I can say that none of my career plans worked out.”
My personal take-away from all this: It is good if you planned the next 40 years already, but you can relax if you did not. Don’t say yes to a job just because it may look good on your CV. Ideally you are extremely excited about the job and you have a good first connection to your new boss and you know that you can learn something from him/her. At least one of both boxes should be checked.
Be open to completely unexpected opportunities. They may change your life in ways you could never anticipate. Finally, if you invested your time with energy and passion, but you find yourself in a dead end, recognized that it is not you who failed. Companies fail frequently to develop people. You own your career. Go and find a better place.
As an experienced leader you have worked with many international teams. What advice do you have for leaders managing teams and tasks through virtual communication channels?
Siemens is present in 190 countries. Most of my team is located outside of Germany. Although I travel from time to time to meet with a customer or to visit production sites, most of my regular business meetings are virtual. I believe in short meetings with a clear scope.
Sometimes I open the meetings by framing the purpose of the meeting again, so that everyone is on the same page. Switch the video function on, it avoids that people get distracted by incoming emails or their laundry. And if you don’t want to ignore the good ideas of the introverted part of your team, pay attention to those people that remained silent in the call and ask them for their views.