Neda Seyedi and Matthias Wiese have been on the management board of Alfred Rexroth GmbH since 2021. Neda Seyedi was born in Kassel in 1989. Alongside her degree in business administration, she completed a programme of vocal and acting training. Matthias Wiese was born in Berlin in 1983 and studied mechanical engineering. He lives with his wife and two children in Berlin.
How did you both come to be at Alfred Rexroth GmbH and what drew you to it?
Matthias Wiese: I went straight into production at Rexroth in 2003 following my training, and honestly I hadn’t thought about the background of the company and how it was embedded in Neuguss. I was looking for a secure job. I started a mechanical engineering degree in 2008 and came back to Rexroth as a project engineer and leader in 2012. When I was working in production back in 2003, the word Neuguss didn’t mean anything to me and seemed somehow unapproachable. When I came back in 2012, I slowly gained more of an insight into Neuguss and where the money that is paid out goes. When I was in Kenya with GLS Treuhand in 2019, it was a very special experience. You could say it was something of an evidential experience. The people there were so immensely welcoming and grateful. That’s where I really got to know Neuguss, and it was when I met Peter Piechotta during the restructuring. He really brought Neuguss to life and his way of leading the company through such a difficult period.
Neda Seyedi: I started here in 2014, working part-time in accounting. I was in a part-time role because I still wanted to dedicate some time to my passion for music and acting. However, not long after that, I was offered a full-time position – since then, my passion has become more of a hobby. Accounting is something very close to my heart, but working with other people and exchanging ideas are even more important to me. That’s why I switched to the HR department and took over as head of HR in 2017 – right from the start, my objective was to fight for the people working in the company and make the company more humane. That said, I have always felt closer to Rexroth than Neuguss. When we took over management in 2021, Neuguss was very present during the restructuring in the form of Peter Piechotta, as Matthias said. I’ve come to admire him for his very inspiring, liberating manner. He gave us a lot of room for manoeuvre, and it’s this sense of freedom that makes Neuguss stand out.
Matthias Wiese: In production in particular, you often ask yourself why we should give away profits when they could be invested in the company itself. That’s something you have to make people understand, and I think we have to be role models here. Neuguss, or rather, the spirit of Neuguss, is embodied in how we work and interact with one another.
Neda Seyedi: Absolutely. And in the process, private factors must also be taken into account, and people and their needs must be included in our economic decisions. When does someone need a sabbatical, how can we organise working hours and workplaces? We have to make people fit for work in every respect, and to do that, we must put them at the centre of our business.
Matthias Wiese: We also have to go into discussions with an open mind – we have to listen carefully. As managing directors, we are not just entrepreneurs, we are also coaches.
How did handover arrangements like that work out – were there initial difficulties in the new distribution of roles?
Neda Seyedi: When Peter Piechotta was looking into replacing the management team, it was clear right from the start that the position should be filled internally. There shouldn’t be a feeling that the company is being run by an outsider. In addition, the idea of a mixed team, composed of a man and a woman, was novel. That was all very new for the people here in the team, and at the beginning there was some scepticism. This made dialogue all the more important for us right from the start. That kind of trust has to be built up first, and even if your colleagues already knew you, they didn’t know you in this role. I think we are doing well with our principle “We don’t just talk, we do.”
Matthias Wiese: There was some resistance, and as my colleague says, acceptance and trust had to be established first. Through constant discussion with the colleagues and the clear signal “We want to run the company with you”, we finally got there.
Neda Seyedi: And this role was new for us, too, which is why we had coaching and mentoring.
What does Alfred Rexroth’s legacy mean to you?
Matthias Wiese: When I applied to work here, I had no connection to Rexroth as a person. In the meantime, of course, I have thought about it again and again; Rexroth as a person seems very distant to us, but his spirit is very present here.
Neda Seyedi: I am deeply impressed by what Rexroth achieved and am very proud to continue his legacy. This spirit that Matthias mentioned lives on in the profound attachment that colleagues have to the company. We have people who have been working here for over 40 years. But this spirit is not only present in our company, it also lives on beyond us, for example in the Bochum banking institutions.
What do you consider the company’s future tasks to be?
Neda Seyedi: For one thing, we want to continue to stabilise the company. We had to let 30 employees go in 2020. You also have to keep an eye on all the little details – that really is a huge task! Alongside the stabilisation, we also have ideas about where we are headed, of course. We want to be one of the most attractive employers here. Of course, we also have to look very closely at the issue of training, because young people are our future. Many employees have completed a training qualification so that we can train our own specialists in-house. We also consider cultural aspects, as we have many trainees with a migrant background. The Neuguss training concept is also integrated. We demonstrate and embody the added value that diversity provides.
Matthias Wiese: Another example is the question of how you can achieve a balance between working from home and on-site. What will the workplace of the future look like? These questions need to be part of human resources development. We have developed various working models, but we have to revisit them time and again, as needs and requirements can change and must be well balanced. We also have major tasks ahead of us in the area of sustainability. One of the concerns we currently have is to what extent the oil embargo will affect us. Rewilding is also on our agenda – planting green roofs, for example – as well as charging points for electric vehicles and subsidised public transport tickets.
As you can see, we have enough future tasks for the next 50 years of Neuguss.