Aero Vodochody, a globally recognised aviation manufacturer, has sat at the forefront of aeronautical engineering for over 100 years. Dieter John, who took the steering wheel as CEO more than a year ago, introduced a refined strategy, set new objectives and kickstarted a number of opportunities in order to successfully pilot the company into the future.
“I’m very proud to be running a company with such heritage. As a business, we’re incredibly excited about what the future holds; however, that’s not to say we don’t have challenges ahead of us. We do,” Dieter says.
“One of those challenges is to successfully re-enter the market with our latest aircraft, the L-39NG. It’s a new military jet trainer and light attack aircraft for the next generation of pilots, and I believe that its introduction into the market is not only a big opportunity to gain a significant market share worldwide, but also to transform Aero Vodochody into a global player.”
The globalisation of the company is one crucial element of Dieter’s plans for the business. But ahead of that, the leader is laser focused on strengthening the trust of shareholders, customers and other stakeholders.
“Trust is paramount in our industry because the customer operates our aircraft for dozens of years and naturally expects long-term, best-in-class, follow-on support from the original aircraft manufacturer,” he says.
With a new business plan presented in mid-2019 to the board and numerous initiatives and strategies now in place, Dieter is feeling confident that Aero Vodochody is well prepared to enter a new, exciting and successful era.
Alongside strengthening the trust of the customers, Dieter has also launched a holistic transformation program that covers the whole value chain and end-to-end processes of the company.
“We really want to drive change throughout the whole business, across all programs, functions, hierarchies and in the mind of every employee,” he says. “Change always starts at the top, never stops, is fundamental in remaining at the top of the league and crucial for the DNA and agility of every successful organisation.”
“It’s why, alongside renewing my leadership team, we’ve kickstarted a program called A3F, which stands for Aero Fit For Future. It’s a two-year plan that addresses our growth ambition, our performance and excellence initiatives, our change agenda, culture dimension and, last but most importantly, our most valuable asset: our people.”
A3F is the catalyst to transform Aero Vodochody and take it to the next stage. “Becoming a global company starts with simple things. For instance, the language we use,” Dieter says.
“A lot of our documentation has traditionally been in Czech, but we’re moving towards making English the company language – this means on the website, where we have just changed it from Czech to English, in our email exchanges and finally in our daily conversations.
We really want to drive change throughout the whole business.
“The second part of the globalisation strategy was to globalise the management structure and create an internationally experienced team to assist with sales of the new L-39NG. Third was the further globalisation of our external enterprises, including our supply chain, which historically has been very Czech-based. All these things will help in moving the business onto the world stage.”
A core component of Dieter’s strategy is to remain a leader in innovation and technology. “Technology is so important to what we do. Aircraft have very long lifecycles and so, of course, they need to remain state-of-the-art until the end of their service life,” he says.
“It’s a constant collaboration between the customer and us, requiring the candour to accept out-of-the-box views and benchmarks, the openness to explore unknown territory and the boldness to do things differently. All things which we pride ourselves on doing extremely well.”
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