Augsburg The December morning is cloudy and wet and cold. In the early morning, Constanze Hufenbecher set out for Bavaria from her place of residence in Hamburg. In normal times, Infineon’s digital director would commute between major cities such as Singapore and Shanghai as well as the headquarters in Munich. In the second Corona winter, the 51-year-old is already happy that she can inaugurate the new premises at the Augsburg site on an inhospitable Monday and talk to the software developers in person.
In April, the business economist became the first woman to join the board of the chip manufacturer. Her awkward title: Chief Digital Transformation Officer. Outwardly, Hufenbecher has not made much appearance since then. Internally, however, the native Swabian is doing all she can to lead the Dax group into the digital modern age. “My goal is to make Infineon more agile and faster,” says Hufenbecher. But where do you start with such an all-encompassing task?
The visit to Augsburg provides the first clues. Because Augsburg is one of the few Infineon locations worldwide that exclusively deals with software. And software will also decide whether Hufenbecher will succeed at Germany’s largest semiconductor manufacturer.
It should network the different areas of the company, explained supervisory board chairman Wolfgang Eder when he presented Hufenbecher at the general meeting in February. It is about “ensuring a homogeneous process landscape”.
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Therefore, Hufenbecher first tidies up in his own house. Her conclusion after almost nine months: “Far too seldom do we ask what users really need in the company. We are far too attached to individual tools. “
It is not easy for the former Bertelsmann manager to talk directly to her colleagues. Personal encounters like in Augsburg are the exception in view of the pandemic. But the manager is lucky: Between 2004 and 2009 she was already in the service of the group, many faces in leading positions are still familiar to her.
The manager tries to contribute directly to the success of the business. Therefore, she wants to create the prerequisites for employees to be able to offer customers more software and services. This should make it possible to sell not just chips, but also entire systems – and thus grow faster and become more profitable.
Before moving to the Isar, she was responsible for finances at Lufthansa Technik. Even at the subsidiary of the airline, it was a matter of creating a digital basis for all areas, she says.
Infineon is in a much better position than when they left
When she returned to Infineon, Hufenbecher found the company in much better shape than when she left twelve years ago. At that time, the company was struggling to survive, Infineon was on the verge of bankruptcy during the financial crisis, and the share had degenerated into a penny stock.
The papers are now at their highest level in two decades. One of the biggest challenges is coping with the rapid growth. The group has almost 3,000 vacancies to fill. In addition, the former Siemens subsidiary took over US competitor Cypress for nine billion euros last year. The company from Silicon Valley is now being integrated. Hufenbecher’s IT department plays a key role.
A sure instinct is required. Because the Americans are better than Infineon in some things, and the corporate management in Munich would like to preserve these areas as much as possible. A lot can be learned from Cypress, says Thomas Rosteck, head of the Connected Secure Systems division. The Cypress developer community, where specialists can exchange ideas, has been exemplary.
The customer interfaces, i.e. all digital points of contact with clients, are also at the top of Hufenbecher’s agenda. In general, she wants to create solutions for all sectors. “I have the freedom to approach this across departments,” she says.
The visit to Augsburg was definitely worth it. In the headquarters, it is sometimes much too loud in the offices, Hufenbecher has noticed. That is a much better solution at the new location. The married mother of two children especially liked the writable walls along the corridors. The individual teams leave handwritten notes there. There is no such thing at headquarters, she notes enviously. Maybe it doesn’t always have to be digital solutions to advance Infineon.
More: Infineon drives returns with complete software solutions.