Adrenaline comes in many forms. Though Gold Coin Holdings CEO Gerald Wilflingseder chases it in conventional ways, such as skiing, he also finds it in his work life. “I don’t shy away from problems, I thrive on them,” he says.
“It’s my internal combustion engine, my motor. I don’t know where I get my energy from but people say I have a lot of it. I’m a very positive person.”
He’s also lived all over the world, including Africa, Latin America, North America and Europe. Now, he has made a home in Singapore. “The most important decision in this job was the move with my family to Asia,” he explains. “Asia wasn’t in my plans, but now that I’m here, I like it very much.”
At first, Gerald wasn’t sure if he should accept the role at Gold Coin. But after checking it out, he decided it was an exciting opportunity. “It wasn’t so much whether I could do the work or not, because it’s the business I have worked in for the past 28 years,” he says. “But it was a more challenging role because I haven’t led a company of this size before. But I was willing to take it on.”
The company has focused on changing its culture from classic top-down management to a flat hierarchy and self-responsibility. “This comes with challenges,” Gerald admits. “A new idea in an environment that has run the same way for a long time is difficult to manage at first.”
Now, the culture of Gold Coin is one that is open to change. It was recently acquired by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, as a 75% owner. “It has opened up opportunities for us, and Aboitiz is a company that will continue to invest in this sector,” Gerald says.
“I’m happy to be part of the team. We want to be an organisation that strives for self-responsibility. The new owners have a strong sense of integrity, which I appreciate. “Integrity is important in business. A business leader must also be reliable. You have to keep your word. Your handshake must be as important as a signed contract.”
This value spills over into the company’s supplier relationships, which Gerald believes should last through good times and bad. “If you have a good relationship then you have a way of dealing with challenges,” he explains.
“Sometimes you can share your benefits, and sometimes your losses. It’s a matter of integrity and of sticking to what you say. You have to be steady in what you are doing, which has served us very well.” Having worked in several countries, Gerald has learned that respecting the people you work with is essential. “I think it’s a mindset that you must have as a manager,” he says. “When you go to a new place, with a new way of doing things, the most important thing is to respect the local culture and people.
“I have seen quite a few international expat managers fail because they didn’t have this respect. When you move to a foreign country, you first have to learn how they do things. You have to adapt to that without forgetting your goals.”
In the end, the success of a business comes down to sustainability and making a profit. Gerald believes that to be efficient and thrive, you must choose the right people. “The right people will make or break a company,” he explains. “You must also have an open mind from a management point of view. If people feel they can speak up and challenge you as a leader, I think you can be much more successful.”
“The right people will make or break a company.”
Sustainability is the foundation of Gold Coin’s processes and the company aims to push the industry towards sustainable manufacturing. “Gold Coin and Aboitiz are leading the way and investing money in sustainability,” Gerald says.
“The whole world is connected, so information travels fast. If you aren’t at the forefront of sustainability, you will have a problem now and more so in the future.” Gerald says his love for his job helps him achieve his goals. “I’m not very patient at all,” he admits.
“It’s one of my biggest weaknesses. It’s good to wait or sleep on a decision until things become clearer. But you must also love your job. You don’t work just for the money. If you don’t love your job and you do it just for the money, it won’t make you happy.”