"Given current market conditions, its vital our teams work closely together"

The financial director of communications equipment company Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Bernd Stangl, is in charge of finances, tax, accounting, internal auditing, M&A and facility management, on top of handling legal issues such as compliance. Here, he discusses the current state of the global market, and its future outlook.

Posted mercredi, novembre 23 2022
"Given current market conditions, its vital our teams work closely together"

Leaders League: What impact has the current global situation had on your business?
Bernd Stangl: For 2022, we anticipate approximately the same level of profitability as the year before. Market conditions are improving and we are seeing more orders. However, we have encountered difficulties in fulfilling them, because of stock and treasury issues, and this has had a bearing on our bottom line. In the end, the volume of sales did not correspond to demand. It should be noted that this is a problem encountered by our competitors in many markets too, an issue with its roots in the economic fallout from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. 

When confronted with this type of situation, it is imperative that you concentrate on problems for which you can realistically find purposeful solutions, and to do so, you can’t work in isolation. Given current market conditions, its vital our teams work closely together, the sales team with those in charge of supply chain, inventory and financing, for example. This level of co-operation is a big plus and can create momentum for the business, so it shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Post Covid, we have noticed a certain level of pressure on financial markets, due to a high level of debt and liquidity

Problems such as the one I have outlined above, can only be resolved via a systematic or holistic approach by each specialist in the company. Given the current socio-economic context, now is not the time to introduce new tools or overhaul the way they are dealt with, as these take time to get up and running. Agility and pragmatism are the watchwords in this type of climate.  

What are your current avenues of financing?
Our financing comes from debt mainly, particularly medium-term debt. This choice gives us a certain amount of stability and security when it comes to financial costs. Incidentally, we are currently in the process of refinancing all of our existing loans. 
Post Covid, we have noticed a certain level of pressure on financial markets, due to a high level of debt and liquidity. Furthermore, as banks are anticipating a wave of bankruptcies, securing refinancing has become more difficult, as the strings attached are now that much more restrictive. 

There is a lot of pressure on companies to attract and retain staff these days. What’s your view?
The issue of recruitment is indeed particularly touchy. In order to attract and retain the best talent, we are constantly having to come up with ways of improving our working environment, such as updating our remote-work practices so they are more attuned to the needs of our staff. What’s more, our remuneration policy has evolved to guarantee equal pay for the same role, regardless of gender. 

For our young recruits, we have put in place a mentoring program, carefully conceived with both their development, and the development of the company, in mind. We would much rather invest in an existing member of staff and see them thrive within the company, than have them leave and have to start again from scratch with someone new.