Hello Dr Pepe. Let’s get straight down to the nitty gritty. Did you use to have any negative preconceptions about consultants, and how did this change once you got to know your new colleagues?
Actually no, I didn’t have any. When I was working for Bosch I had a lot of contact with external consultants and I always found them to be open-minded and professional. They helped us a lot with our projects, and today this continues to be a source of inspiration to me – I now try to play the same role that those consultants did back then.
Then let’s turn the question around: in what ways has Kugler Maag Cie lived up to your expectations?
My first impression of Kugler Maag was very positive. I liked the fact that the website doesn’t overwhelm you with empty marketing jargon; it shows you faces and provides useful content. This impression was reinforced in my job interviews – I encountered friendly and professional individuals – and I still feel that way. The team shows mutual respect and appreciation. And that was exactly what I expected.
Another aspect is the travel. During the interviews, people made it clear that I would have to travel a lot for my job, that I would constantly have new clients and have to adapt to new situations. That’s exactly what I was looking for, because I’d spent 15 years caught up in the routines of an electronics development department and I needed something new.
What was the biggest challenge you were presented with by this shift in tempo? Or did your new colleagues smooth the way for you?
The biggest challenge is always breaking out of your old routines. At Kugler Maag Cie, each new client means that I am confronted with new projects, which are sometimes based on technology or processes I may not be acquainted with yet, and they come with unfamiliar problems. Of course I can draw on my experience with previous projects, but in the end, you have to come up with a new, made-to-measure solution. This is the biggest challenge – but at the same time, it’s what I like most about the job.
My colleagues have helped me a lot. The firm brings together an unbelievable wealth of expertise, not just in the automotive sector, but also all the years of experience in management and consulting. I benefit tremendously from this. Fridays are devoted to learning and sharing information. I meet up with colleagues, either face to face in the office or virtually. This means we aren’t entirely left to our own devices; we can use each other as sparring partners.
You say that working at Kugler Maag Cie is different. What does that mean specifically for your everyday work?
Two things take centre stage at Kugler Maag: learning and trust. Consultants are expected to be keen to keep on learning and growing. A key part of this is regularly sharing our experiences, as I just mentioned. Also, Kugler Maag Cie places a lot of trust in its consultants. We have significant flexibility in how we do our jobs. As an employer, Kugler Maag Cie trusts us to always give our best, to come up with our own solutions and to ask for help if we need it. Our goal is also to establish this same level of trust with our clients in the long term. It’s about ‘customer intimacy’ – our aim is to excel, communicate transparently with our customers and provide them with important guidance in a complex market. This creates a long-term relationship.
Another hallmark of Kugler Maag Cie is the casual atmosphere at the company.
Years ago, you founded a school in Italy. It was located on a farm. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
I’m originally from southern Italy, but I’ve been living in Germany for many years now. At one point my wife and children had to go back to Italy for family reasons. My son had a hard time when he started school. He was always complaining of headaches and not wanting to go. I realised that something wasn’t right with the way he was being taught at school. Obviously I couldn’t completely overhaul the school system in such a short time – reforms take a very long time. Then I found out that my son wasn’t the only one in this situation. So I joined forces with other parents and set up a school based on an alternative educational concept – active learning. At the beginning, the school was in an apartment. It’s now on a farm in the hills of Abruzzo, about three kilometres from the Adriatic Sea. Staff there also teach traditional subjects like geography, mathematics and Italian, but in a much more hands-on manner – so when the kids learn about maps, the first thing they do is go out into the fields and draw their own maps to gain their bearings. They don’t focus on the theoretical aspects until later. At the same time, the children learn art, music and eurythmy, they work in the fields with their teachers, and they help them prepare lunch. So the kids experience real-life situations, from growing plants to selling and consuming food. If we want young people to remain curious and enjoy themselves when their growing up, if we want them to be creative and attentive as individuals, then we have to change the way they’re taught. Our school is called I Colori del Sole – the colours of the sun – and today around 25 kids go there. There’s a preschool group and an elementary group including all pupils from grades 1 to 4.
And does your son still attend the school?
Unfortunately not. He’s 12 now, so he’s been at secondary school for two years – back in the traditional system. But he’s now better at dealing with it.