“The two of us together make a strong team”
How long have you been working as an assistant?
Claudia Persé: In 1991 I completed a 2-year training course as a general assistant and subsequently trained as a secretary for the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. That was nearly 27 years and a few bosses ago.
Unlike Mrs. Persé, you are relatively new to the company. You have been Head of Corporate Information Technology (IT) at LANXESS since March 2015. A year has now passed. What are your initial impressions?
Kai Finke: I have now settled in at LANXESS and I enjoy working here. There is a lot going on in the company, and I am sure it will remain that way in the future too. There are a lot of exciting things happening as far as the Group IT function is concerned, as IT in particular has an important role to play in all the changes, e.g. preparing for and making all the necessary IT adjustments to implement the ARLANXEO joint venture and collaborating in the CSE initiative (Commercial and Supply Chain Excellence).
Ms Persé gives me a lot of support and allows me to focus on the tasks at hand. I particularly benefit from her very considerable and extensive experience.
You used to be Head of Corporate IT at the K+S group. What are the major differences between LANXESS and your former employer?
Kai Finke: K+S is active in the raw materials sector and operates salt and potash mines. At LANXESS, I am working in the chemical industry again, which was a positive experience for me in the past. In the chemical industry you have significantly more products, greater manufacturing depth, challenging supply chains and proximity to the markets. The IT is accordingly more varied too, as its tasks include mapping material, document and value flows. LANXESS is also more active internationally; K+S operates essentially in Germany and America.
What do you particularly enjoy about your job and what do you least enjoy?
Claudia Persé: I love my job, because it is extremely varied. I don’t get bored. My day is made up of many different tasks such as coordinating appointments, planning trips, and preparation for presentations and meetings. Respectful and friendly teamwork with my colleagues is particularly important to me, both within my own section and when working with other business units and group functions. The few tasks that annoy me sometimes are things that I don’t like doing anyway, like watering flowers.
What are the challenges facing you in your job and what goals have you set yourself?
Kai Finke: With the constant changes in the company’s business and the rapid advances in IT, it is a challenge to keep strategic options open while at the same time achieving a simplified range of solutions through standardization. For example, better marketing, user training and functional improvements are needed to increase use and acceptance of a number of IT solutions. This is essential if we are to achieve further optimization and automation.
My goal is to achieve simpler and – where appropriate – standardized IT solutions for the company. Such solutions are easier/quicker to change and tie up fewer resources. This releases resources we desperately need for further development and innovation.
What is the greatest challenge as your boss’s right hand?
Claudia Persé: The greatest challenge is giving him the best possible support in his duties, easing his load giving him strength. Mutual trust and dependability are the foundations for our work together.
What do you do in your free time?
Claudia Persé: My family is the most important thing in my life. Since our son decided to play football some seven years ago, almost everything in our house is “all about the game”. Volunteer work at our local football club has become the number 1 hobby for both my husband and me.
Kai Finke: When the weather is right, I like to sail a dinghy or cycle; I am also a big fan of barbecues, preferably on traditional charcoal.