Inclusive leadership excellence: Bosch‘s catalyst for sustainable success

Inclusive leadership excellence: Bosch‘s catalyst for sustainable success

Interview with Mihai Boldijar – Vice President Bosch Group in Romania and Bulgaria, Managing Director Robert Bosch SRL

Q: Global growth is projected to fall from an estimated 3.5% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 and 2024 amid severe political and social struggles. What major trends have shaped your global and local strategies in this context? What main drivers have you considered for medium and long-term growth?

Mr. Mihai Boldijar: It is a challenging period, and global perspectives are shifting towards negative growth. At Bosch, we have set ourselves an ambitious roadmap. Despite the modest economic outlook, Bosch Group has managed to increase its sales by 3.5%in the first quarter of 2023, an encouraging result in a challenging year. Our target for EBIT margin from operations in 2023 is around 5%.

It is clear that 2023 remains a challenging year, especially as prices in the raw materials and energy markets and inflation remain high, but we are optimistic. We aim to grow in every region of the world and to be among the leading three suppliers in our relevant markets.

As for the trends, we are seeing increased attention towards the fight against climate change that is causing considerable upheaval in business and society and accelerating technological change. This technological transformation is offering growth opportunities in our existing business but also related and new areas. I am convinced that our ethos, “Invented for life,” is ideal – if we discuss the significant trends of electrification, automation, and digitalization, but also when it comes to software and artificial intelligence.

Q: Your company has made significant investments in the region, particularly in developing production and R&D sites in Cluj and Blaj. Could you share the key achievements of your company in the past year, and what significant milestones are you aiming to achieve in these fields for the future?

Mr. Mihai Boldijar: In the past years, Bosch Group in Romania has significantly grown its business by investing in manufacturing, in research and development activities, and in the services area. Bosch's commitment to creating technology “Invented for Life” drives us to turn any trend in electrification, automation, digitization, software, and artificial intelligence into real development opportunities. The Engineering Center Cluj became, in the last decade, one of the Bosch global pillars in R&D. The center developed swiftly over the years, with activities expanded in Bucharest and recently in Sibiu, underlining our firm commitment to state-of-the-art research activities in Romania. connected and electric mobility.

In 2022, despite the demanding economic and social environment, Bosch invested roughly 83 million euros in Romania.The Bosch plant in Jucu had significant growth in 2022, producing 12%more electronic control units for airbags, multi-camera systems and driver assistance than in the previous year. 

We are proud that, since its opening in 2013, the plant has delivered over 350 million high-quality automotive parts to international customers.

Q: Over the years, the Bosch Group in Romania has followed an exceptional path, combining innovation with quality and adapting to the market's ever-changing demands. Innovation is crucial in today's business world. Can you highlight some of Bosch's recent innovations or technological advancements?

Mr. Mihai Boldijar: We are witnessing a significant shift in the automotive industry, with an increased focus on alternative mobility solutions. Hybrid and electric cars are now expected on the roads. Bosch has anticipated this trend and now is working on new technologies in these areas. Bosch Engineering Center Cluj, for example, develops software for electric cars, such as control units for battery management or cloud-based services to increase performance and battery life. The Bosch plant in Jucu already produces several electronic control units for electric and hybrid cars, and the shift towards electrification is likely to continue. Also, Bosch encourages the transition to electromobility by installing charging stations for electric vehicles at all manufacturing locations in Romania. In addition, we think hydrogen generated with renewable energy will play a significant role in achieving climate targets. Bosch wants not only to use hydrogen but also to be one of the companies producing it. This is why Bosch is branching out into the development of components for electrolyzers.

Q: Sustainability and environmental responsibility are becoming increasingly important. What are the major sustainability initiatives that Bosch has implemented, and how does the company aim to set a leading example in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) best practices?

Mr. Mihai Boldijar: For Bosch, sustainability means striking a balance between the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of its business activities. As a result, in 2020, Bosch became the first global industrial enterprise to make its 400 locations worldwide carbon neutral (scopes 1&2) *, including the sites in Romania. To mention just one example, Bosch is actively concerned with improving the energy efficiency of its plants and office buildings. Besides using energy consumption monitoring solutions, purchasing electricity from renewable sources, using the heat from compressors to produce domestic hot water or support the heating system, and replacing existing luminaires with LED technology, the manufacturing sites in Blaj and Cluj started to make their own green energy by installing photovoltaic panels

*Scopes 1 and 2 are used according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard.

Q: To maintain its status as a top employer in Romania, what are the critical areas of focus for Bosch? How does the company prioritize employee satisfaction, professional and personal growth opportunities, and a supportive work environment to attract and retain the best talent?

Mr. Mihai Boldijar: Bosch's most valuable resources are its associates. Our organizational culture ensures a modern working environment focusing on collaboration and the well-being of our colleagues. An excellent

example of this is the "Smart Work" initiative, which Bosch has been implementing since 2021 and represents a model of hybrid collaboration. Bosch implemented numerous measures to ensure a working environment based on flexibility, trust, and results, which fosters the well-being, efficiency, and innovative capacity of its associates. In addition, we offer our associates a wide range of benefits and opportunities for professional development and career advancement. We continue investing in long-term educational projects, which translate into care and responsibility for our associates and future generations, offering students and pupils dual learning contexts, applied internships and training courses.

In recent years, we have not only grown as a business but also as a team, and this growth is an encouragement of the human potential that exists in the country. By keeping the focus on research and development in the critical areas of future mobility, turning challenges into opportunities, adapting our way of working to new circumstances and applying an inclusive and transparent leadership style, we managed to attract new talents and keep our position among the top employers in the country also last year. By the end of 2022, the company had approximately 9,830 associates, representing a 12% increase from the previous year. This impressive growth and our results represent our firm commitment to our associates.

Q: In Romania's rapidly evolving business landscape and the surrounding region, what are the primary opportunities Bosch has identified as important for ensuring business resilience and long-term success? How does the company plan to capitalize on these opportunities to maintain a strong presence and continue thriving in the future?

Mr. Mihai Boldijar: Currently, production in the mobility solutions business sector, software development for the automotive industry, R&D projects and strategic partnerships are very important to us. At the same time, we do not shy away from responsibility for the community, supporting formal and non-formal education programs. We will continue to be an essential partner for the Romanian education system as we have assumed responsibility in this area. The stability of the Bosch principles in terms of both the associates' mindsets and the company's financial results and prosperity remain mandatory for the company.  

Q: In the face of escalating pressures, dynamic changes, and valuable business prospects, how would you emphasize the significance of transformational leadership? What message or insights would you like to convey about the role of transformative leadership in navigating these challenges and seizing new opportunities in the corporate world? 

Mr. Mihai Boldijar: I think the word that best describes this transition is inclusive leadership. It's all about people, about building trust and confidence between them, valuing team members, inviting diverse perspectives, acknowledging multidisciplinary added value, and emphasizing achievements emerging out of COVID-related teamwork. Unleashing the potential of our people, giving them confidence, and cooperating, we contribute not only to the transformation of a performing business but also to the transformation of remarkable careers. I think that together with our associates, we must start from the premise that we have a shared vision which each party, regardless of their position, understands, and integrates into their activity. At the same time, transformation also requires the courage to make difficult decisions and to be willing to try new viable ideas.

Our colleagues' productivity has not been affected by uncertain times. This is due to our new leadership style, inclusive leadership, supported by proactive and efficient communication, focused on the most sensitive elements, including debunking myths and fake news that abound in such challenging times.


You can also find the full interview in the document below: