All together now: the importance of an inclusive workplace

It’s National Inclusion Week, but making sure we collaborate with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences all year round is the key to truly embracing everyone. Here a view from a few of us at Siemens UK on how to keep making progress.

Wouldn’t life be much easier if no one disagreed with you? If you were never challenged, never held to account, and everything you said and every decision you made was immediately agreed with.

It’s something that Juergen Maier experienced early on in his career while he was working with fellow engineers in a factory in Congleton, UK. They were halcyon days with no fights, no dramas, and not even a hint of anyone challenging the status quo.

This feeling of cohesion went way beyond opinions. It stretched to the team’s physical appearance, meaning the workplace was a safe space for cookie-cutter colleagues to hear their words reverberate around an echo chamber and be reinforced by teammates with the same outlook.

“The factory was white, European, and male. I enjoyed it because I was surrounded by like-minded people,” Juergen admits. “Decision-making was quite easy as we all swam in the same direction and had the same kind of outlook.”

Thankfully, that uniformity didn’t last long. As the factory grew, its employees were quickly forced out of their comfort zone when dealing with customers and colleagues from further afield. “We started to struggle,” he admits. “This was in the early days of exporting to China and India and far-flung places, and it became obvious to me that there were cultures in the world that I really didn’t understand.”

Acknowledging this challenge, the factory was slow to change. “We thought we were doing the right things, but actually we were completely blindsided because we didn’t have any international people on our team,” he says.

Employees from other countries were slowly introduced to the team, finally creating a more inclusive working environment. As a result, the reassuring nod that came with every idea and every solution subsided. “It became tougher,” Juergen says. “I was frustrated because I thought, ‘Why are all these people disagreeing with me?’”

Conflict is important

Work might have become more complex, but Juergen learned a valuable lesson. “Decision-making sometimes takes longer, but you definitely get a more rounded and better output.” In fact, understanding the importance of inclusion changed his entire approach.

And it’s not just about employing people of different nationalities, it goes far deeper than that; it’s about creating a working environment that actually reflects the diverse tapestry of life. “I realized the true opportunity when it comes to inclusion,” he says, “is that people who disagree with you can have a different outlook to you. They are a gift.”

The lesson has stayed with him and now, 30 years later, inclusion is more than just a buzzword. “We’re not just pursuing inclusion for inclusion’s sake,” he says. “We want people to have the richest experiences from as many viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences as possible.”

For Juergen, it’s about embracing and not simply respecting people. “I hate the word respect as, for me, that’s just a given. And anybody who doesn’t show respect has no place in our organization, it’s as simple as that.”

It’s okay to feel uncomfortable

National Inclusion Week reminds us that there is still more that we can do, and Juergen takes a refreshingly honest approach to acknowledge some of the struggles that we might encounter along the way. He believes it’s okay to admit that difference can sometimes make us feel uncomfortable — we are often afraid of offending someone, or not knowing the ‘right’ thing to say.

“In recognizing this we can really start to make an effort to embrace diversity,” he says. Since his time at the factory, he’s made sure to never shy away from people who express themselves differently to him, in whatever way. “I have found it a really enlightening, brilliant experience to learn from people who I just hadn’t engaged with as much as I should have done.”
Juergen has experience of challenging people to embrace the unknown when he came out as a gay man. A year or two later, some colleagues admitted they initially saw him differently but that he had ultimately ‘opened their eyes’ as they had not recognized their own previous misconceptions or unconscious homophobia.

“If people are not overtly prejudiced but are uncomfortable I completely understand it, because why shouldn’t they be uncomfortable at first?” he says. “They might not have a variety of people in their friendship groups,” he says, “so they haven’t had first-hand experience of all underrepresented groups, and might not even have the right words in their vocabulary.’’ He admitted finding it very uncomfortable when meeting with a group of neurodiverse people recently. “I totally recognize their difference and that we should embrace this much more to help us in areas like coding and data analytics, but I just didn’t feel comfortable in case I chose the wrong language.’’

Juergen believes these feelings present an opportunity to make positive changes and look beyond your clique. “You become a better person when you work in a diverse group,” he says. “You learn insights that you hadn’t thought about because people are coming at it from a different set of experiences.”

Inclusion is good for all of us

“Inclusion has always been important,” says Juergen, “but for centuries we have missed fantastic life, productivity, and ingenuity-enriching opportunities. The speed of organizational change has got to the fastest level I have ever seen and inclusion is a prerequisite of success in that. The winners will embrace it.”

National Inclusion Week is a great time to review our efforts to embrace difference and welcome everyone into our community of Future Makers, but of course, inclusion is an ongoing conversation that should be taking place all year round.

“We have improved massively, but we will never be perfect until we get more people from all walks of life coming to join and help us,” says Juergen. Various LGBTQ+, neurodiversity, and women’s groups are being formed throughout the company to foster an inclusive environment, both to support current Siemens employees and to encourage diverse people to join the company. Training is underway to banish unconscious bias, and interviews go ahead only when there is a range of applicants from different backgrounds. “It shouldn’t lead to positive discrimination,” he says, “but we want to make sure we have better diversity mixes in management and project teams.”

Change is underway, and you can be a stronger part of it. Whether you’re a current or future employee, you can help the company become a more inclusive environment. So join the conversation, think about the changes you can make in your approach to the workplace, and seek ways to make inclusion a given rather than an aim. As Juergen says: “The promise we’ll make to you is that we’ll make you feel welcome and always embrace everybody’s opinions and views.”

A technology World First at the Goodwood Festival of Speed!

This week, I will be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I am incredibly excited and slightly anxious about our attempt to pull off a World First – the first fully autonomous hill climb using the latest digital technologies, 3d mapping and sensors in a 1965 Ford Mustang. Twice a day we will be getting the classic car up the race track, each time capturing data, learning and improving with every run. This is a totally unique moment in the history of racing and I can’t wait to be a passenger myself!

We at Siemens are delighted and proud once again to be a primary partner at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

It is a landmark event that showcases the incredible evolution of the UK automotive industry. It will allow the public to enjoy first-hand some of the timeless motoring classics that enthrall car enthusiasts, as well as highlighting the latest thinking around how innovative digital technologies are, today, helping to disrupt, reshape and transform the automotive sector.

With our contribution this year, we are blending the past and the future to create something fun, futuristic and inspiring. We are taking the best of classic automotive engineering and pimping it with the latest and best autonomous technology.

And we’re doing it to inspire people, especially young people, to see that engineering and digitalisation can make anything possible.

Through our Digital Technologies, we are helping revolutionise car design using virtual reality techniques.  We are developing new, radical composite materials to make F1 cars even more efficient.  And we are bringing together virtual and real worlds thanks to digital twinning.  Our hi-tech design and simulation software is challenging previous thinking and enabling new approaches to be taken within one of the UK’s most globally appreciated sectors.

And whilst all this is applicable to the automotive industry, the wider societal impact of digital technology and its power to transform society for the better is a much wider and more fundamental question.

I’ve always believed that we need to move beyond the common narrative that, for example, focuses too heavily on ‘robots stealing jobs’ and, instead, use our imagination, vision and technology prowess in a way that supplements and not replaces human intelligence.

We can meet old challenges in new ways, and that is embodied in the spirit of our attempt to get a classic Mustang up the infamous hill climb.

Digitalisation – the technology focus behind Industry 4.0 – has the ability to transform not only the way we design and produce cars, transport systems and enhance the overall mobility of populations, it can also improve other important areas of our lives, ranging from healthcare to education and beyond.

The next industrial revolution has the power to transform the UK into a highly productive and innovation-based economy; one where more skilled and better paid jobs are created, new business models born and economic prosperity supported.

Many of these technologies will be on display on the Siemens stand within the Future Lab at Goodwood so the public can see them first hand, as will see how racing is pushing the UK’s innovation edge further and further with every day.

I want everyone to see for themselves how a powerful combination of human ambition and visionary technologies can set us on a path to a healthier, wealthier and happier future for all. And it promises to be fun, exciting and a chance to see the future first hand. Please come say hello us all to Siemens at the exhibition in the Future Lab at the festival!

Facing Brexit Realities

We have hit a very important milestone – two years after the Brexit vote and I am sensing an increasing mood of unease and uncertainty among business about the lack of clarity on our future economic and trading arrangements with the EU after Brexit.

To be clear, whilst I am sad that the UK is leaving the EU, I do not think this decision can or should be reversed. Like other businesses, Siemens has tried to engage with those involved to find new trading arrangements that work and we are doing our internal preparation to prepare for the possible final outcomes. We have also worked with the government on its industrial strategy, to help develop post Brexit opportunities.

The shape of that final Brexit outcome however needs to be a practical one. One that allows us to trade with minimum friction. Just for Siemens this requires us to move thousands of parts across borders every day, and with that build and keep critical UK infrastructure working. At the whole economy scale the practicalities of this are enormous. As an example, if every truck passing Dover, would just take 2 minutes more to process, this would lead to a 17 mile tailback for every day that happens.

I used the opportunity today to argue that the time has come for more realism in the debate and for some honesty about the choices involved. In particular, I warned that business needs to see progress on the negotiations by October and that the Government must keep open the option of participation in a Customs Union with the EU in the absence of a better and workable solution by then.

The honesty needs to come from those who continue to argue that we can simply walk away without any consequences. This is deeply irresponsible. The UK’s economic, trading and legal system is inextricably intertwined with the EU. We see that every day at Siemens, with so much of our business operations, or those of our customers, undertaken seamlessly under the auspices of Single Market regulation and through participation in the Customs Union. You cannot just unpick this without consequences and two years (since the referendum) was never going to give enough time to prepare, even though promises were made to the contrary.

Of course 52% people voted to leave but we know that many of those were borderline in their decision. Many were neither hard Brexiteers or ardent Europhiles. And only last year we had an election which failed to give a definitive answer about the type of Brexit that people wanted. And whilst the outcome of the referendum was clear, it was not decisive or indication enough of the type of Brexit, hard, soft or whatever you want to call it. And I think with the increased knowledge we have now, the obvious and clear choice is to face Brexit realities and shoot for a sensible Brexit, not a hard one.

We know now that we have been sold a crock. None of this is as easy as promised. If you leave the single market, there will be non-tariff barriers to trade with our biggest market and, despite the Government’s very significant efforts for two years now to find alternative solutions, they are not in sight, and a Customs Union is still the most effective way of avoiding damaging customs costs and delays. In any case, the likelihood of a practical and agreed alternative being in place at the end of a transition period now appears very low and the UK should consider applying to remain in a Customs Union, until and unless an alternative solution can be agreed.

I understand some of the concerns about this in terms of making it harder to do FTAs with other countries (although as others have pointed out it doesn’t stop it completely). But all the evidence points to the benefits of those FTAs simply not outweighing the costs of leaving the Customs Union. And of course the promises of nations queuing up to do attractive trade deals with us, has been proven to be another broken promise. Moreover, there has never been anything stopping us trading much more with countries like the USA and China. Why does Germany trade 5 times more than we do with China, when they have exactly the same trading terms with them than us? The answer is simple, they have over decades innovated better, invested better and made more things to export.

So, that is where I recommend we place our focus. To help support Industry create a stronger global leadership position in this 4th Industrial Revolution, and through that innovate, create and make more things that we can trade with the world. And that is why I have placed my energy and focus into this, by leading the Industrial Strategy Made Smarter review, which you can read more about here. I am delighted that this work is receiving positive support from Business and Government alike and I think more effort and funding here combined with a sensible Brexit, gives us a tremendous opportunity to reek the economic benefits we so desperately need to pay for the every more thirsty public services.

It will be the prosperity created by business in this 4th Industrial revolution that will fund our NHS – not the famous £350m, which has turned out to be yet another broken Brexit promise.

I want to reiterate that I have no ambition of standing in the way of us leaving the EU, but it is time, two years on, to face the realities. A hard Brexit puts ideology over practicality and what is best for our country; just the thought of it is already harming the economy. Implementing it will harm it even more.

Now is the time for pragmatists, practical people, and, dare I say it, experts to sort this out and create a sensible Brexit. Otherwise our current circular debate will tear us apart internally and ruin our reputation as a pragmatic nation of innovators, traders and diplomats.

The Industrial Revolution that Scotland cannot afford to miss

Everyone knows that Scotland has a rich industrial history and everyone knows, too, the difficult times that Scottish industry faced in the final decades of the 20th century. But making, creating and innovating is part of the nation’s fabric and there are very many world class companies and sectors thriving up and down the country. It is because of this that I believe that Scotland has an opportunity to lead the digital transformation that is taking place in manufacturing and, indeed, other industries too.

Even though Scotland has inherent industrial strengths there is some catching up to do, just as there is in the rest of the UK. This is because Scotland missed out on the last industrial leap that took place in the 1970’s and 1980’s, defined by the rise of electronics and microprocessors. The decline of engineering and manufacturing sectors in the latter part of the 20th century came at a time when other countries were investing in their industrial bases, and heavily at that. Places like Singapore, Taiwan and Japan thrived whilst the UK as a whole typically underinvested and lost its way.

The social consequences of this were dire. Unemployment was far too high for far too long, and too many people and places were left behind.

There is however a new window of opportunity opening for Scotland’s industrial economy, and I will be saying more about this today at the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service’s ‘Making Smarter in Scotland’ Conference.
The new opportunity, the next industrial revolution, is all about digitalisation and how it can unlock the productivity of Scotland’s people and in doing so improve living standards for millions. It is a revolution that is already underway and will transform business and society across the globe.

And my message will be simple – we must invest in the latest and best tech to help Scotland grow its industrial base over the coming decades.

To do this we will need to apply the tools of the digital world – virtual reality, augmented reality or artificial intelligence into manufacturing and physical things, like robotics and production lines. It will need connectivity with the internet of things too, technology that helps machines talk to one another and collect data that can be used to massively improve productivity.

By focusing on digitalisation Siemens believes that not only can industry become more efficient but that the economy can create whole new industries in the supply chain dedicated to these new technologies. Imagine if we ‘cross pollinated’ Scotland’s industrial base with its digital start up sector, for example? You can see the new skills and technologies emerging already, the new economy already seeding.

Take the number of people working in Scotland’s video games sector, which has increased by nearly a quarter since 2016. It is the second fasting growing sector in the country. It’s worth £172m to the economy. There are also around 3,000 digital economy companies employing roughly 70,000 people in total. Imagine if we harnessed these digital assets what we could do for the already hefty industrial sector? Companies like Siemens are digital pioneers, and we can see the potential of Scotland to digitalise and grow its industrial base over the coming years, through this ‘cross pollination’.

Last year I chaired a major industrial review for the UK Government called ‘Made Smarter’. It looked at this very topic and how all four corners of Britain can benefit from this new industrial revolution that so many other nations’ globally are already embracing with open arms. The review found that, as a minimum, over 10 years digitalisation could boost UK manufacturing by £455bn, increasing sector growth up to 3% per year, creating a net gain of 175,000 jobs whilst reducing CO2 emissions by 4.5%.

I firmly believe Scotland must be part of this new revolution building on its already substantial assets such as the National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland. The Made Smarter proposals say that there must be a focus on strong leadership to drive this revolution, and that business with government must encourage the adoption of digital tech across the supply chain, especially within SMEs. Critically industry must be faster at innovation and the creation of new industrial digital technologies.

There is good news here, according to the Scottish Development Agency, Scotland does more research per capita than anywhere else in the UK and is the most successful for spin-out companies. And this is important because the Made Smarter Review calls for a UK-wide national adoption programme, a joint plan between business and government to help industrial SME’s digitalise their businesses. Scotland already has the frameworks to deliver such a programme and a great track record of delivering tangible and commercial R&D. This will be driven by a Made Smarter Commission for all of the UK, and will be accompanied by a plan to up-skill new and existing employees in the latest digital technologies.

My call to business and government in Scotland is simple – don’t get left behind, get fully involved in Made Smarter and tailor it to the unique industrial attributes the economy has here.

If we get these things right, coupled with a determination from government and industry to invest and scale up, we can ensure that the next century will be one where Scotland leads the world in the latest innovations. It will also require and create the skills that are needed across all industries: digital skills, engineering skills, programming and coding skills, social sciences skills and lots of creative skills that Scotland already has a firm foundation in.

And that will be to the benefit of not just business but to employees too, as higher rates of productivity help raise living standards – making this new industrial revolution as much about people as it is about technology. The potential is to create many new highly paid jobs, better exports and it will reinforce Scotland’s reputation as a country of innovators, creators and makers.

By embracing this new digital revolution, Scotland has everything to gain for its economy and everything to gain for its people.

Embracing difference: Preparing for a non-binary future

Today is #IDAHOTB – International day against Homophobia, Transphopbia and Biphobia. In many ways we are extremely lucky in the UK with the progress we have made regarding #LGBT+ equality, and my thoughts on this day are very much with those living in countries less fortunate than myself and who are discriminated against and have no legal or community support at all.

Here in the UK, we however still need to make progress also and have to keep up with the times. There are sadly still too many horrible stories of Homophopbia, Transphobia and Biphobia and every occasion is one too many. I gave an interview, about my experience growing up as a gay man in a typical UK working environment and more importantly about the changes I think we need to embrace going forwards as employers and society. I hope my reflections help spark some thoughts and discussion:

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Difference is something to be revered rather than feared. Many improvements have been made at Siemens in recent years to make the company a more welcoming place, but Juergen Maier, CEO of Siemens UK, informed by his personal experience, explains why more must be done to reflect a changing society.

Ever pretended to be someone you’re not, just so you can fit in? Juergen Maier knows what it’s like; after all, he hid his sexuality from colleagues for over 15 years.

Fearful that outing himself as a gay man would impact his progression within Siemens, he decided for “right or wrong reasons” to stay silent. Without role models, without people “like him” working alongside him, he felt it was safer to play into people’s assumptions. He was climbing up the career ladder, but didn’t want to risk everytvhing he’d strived so hard to achieve. “At that time, I thought it was easier for me to pretend to be heterosexual as opposed to expressing who I really am,” he admits.

It came at a price. Not only did the burden of inauthenticity weigh heavily on his mind, but his work suffered. “I’d been wrestling this for a long time,” he says, “and that meant my performance, my focus, and my creativity was affected in a negative way.”

Not being truly authentic, and feeling pressured to conceal an aspect of his character that he should have felt comfortable — and proud — to reveal, was becoming too much. It was halfway through his career, when he was 15 years in, that he finally had the confidence to claim — and own — who he really was.

Everything changed when he broke the act. “There is no question that after coming out and being allowed to be who I am, I became a much stronger individual,” he says. “I was more creative, a more confident communicator, and a better team player.”

Juergen’s experience is, Siemens hopes, an example of a bygone era. It’s a result of a less open and inclusive culture; a period when difference was feared rather than celebrated for the better outcomes that confident and inclusive teams generate.

And he doesn’t want any current or future employees to have the same experience he had – not a single one.

And he needs help.

Starting the conversation: The future is non-binary

We could reel off a list of initiatives and campaigns to show how much more inclusive Siemens has become over the years, but the reality is, despite things having improved immensely, there is far more to be done. “We’re just catching up to being more inclusive towards the LGBTQ+ community,” he says. At the same time society is progressing at a faster pace, this is especially prevalent in Generation Z (those born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) – to claim their difference and smash down stereotypes and traditional attitudes.

He applauds this group of young people who are expressing themselves in ways he felt he could not; with non-binary people in particular fighting back against the very concept of traditional male and female gender classification. “We don’t want people to have to conform to what might have been the norm some time ago,” he says, “and Siemens has a way to go before it truly represents the society it sits within.”

But he is honest. He absolutely does not have all the answers. In fact, he doesn’t even have the right language to sustain a conversation.

“We haven’t got a clue about the way in which Generation Z is presenting itself,” he says. “We have made progress but we don’t have the right language, culture or politics for this generation yet.”

He urges current and future employees to stand up and join the dialogue about how Siemens can adapt to more accurately reflect the needs and views of non-binary people. Young people are ripping up the rulebook, and it’s time for companies to take note

It won’t be easy. It won’t be solved in an instant, but that does not mean he’ll shy away from it. “This is going to be completely new ground and in very many ways uncomfortable, but we need to prepare ourselves for a different future generation.”

His personal experiences have taught him how vital it is to work in an atmosphere where you can be comfortable in your own skin. After all, if you can’t be your true self, you can’t be your best.

But it also reinforced how crucial diversity is for the success of a company. “Siemens’ customers represent society at large,” he says, “And therefore if we think in a non-inclusive way, we may be designing and creating the wrong innovations, services, and products.” Ultimately, diversity is the key to success at an individual and a company-wide level. Defying categorization and embracing difference – points of view, characters, and experiences – leads to the best ideas.

By admitting Siemens doesn’t currently have the right language right now, he hopes others will join the conversation and help the company to prepare for a more diverse, inclusive and equal future. But how? “Engage with us. Be yourself, and be confident that your difference is your strength rather than your weakness.”

So, over to you. What moves can and must be made in order to spark real and effective change? The conversation has started, Juergen welcomes you to join in.

The Northern Powerhouse – let’s make it work for everyone!

More than 200 years ago the North of England was the birthplace of the original Industrial Revolution.

The dramatic shift to adopt new manufacturing processes was spearheaded by the textiles industry in the North West, ship building in the North East, which reached every corner of the globe and steelmaking giving Sheffield a worldwide reputation.

The transformational effect a world-class industry can have on the north was demonstrated during that original Industrial Revolution, as industrial cities saw their population grow tenfold, attracted by the jobs of the future and new emerging specialist industries.

It was also this revolution that led Siemens to set up shop in the UK over 170 years ago. Especially because the north became a magnet for innovation – a global beacon of trade – which it must and can do again through the power of new digital technology.

In the last few weeks we have spoken and supported at a number of leading forums to champion the North’s future technology potential – including the launch of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership Industrial ambition together with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). We also supported the importance of our brilliant women entrepreneurs in the North and better innovation through embracing more diversity at the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering)

And we are very proud to be supporting the Great Exhibition of the North which is taking place this summer.

At each of these my message is simple – the north can create and lead a new 21st century industrial revolution and in doing so can be at the forefront of brand new industries and brand new companies.

There is no reason why the next tech pioneer, the next Spotify or WhatsApp or industrial Artificial Intelligence leader cannot be created in Sheffield, Leeds, Sunderland, Newcastle or anywhere else in our great region.

At Siemens, we’re so confident about this. That’s why we recently opened our second UK digital university innovation lab at Newcastle University. It is tasked with accelerating regional digitalisation, boosting digital skills for graduates – promoting technology and knowledge exchange to meet the needs of an increasingly digitalised society.

Many have asked why I am so personally passionate about investing in the north – especially after our recent announcement that we hope to make a second major investment in East Yorkshire, with our proposed train factory in Goole. The reason is simple – we cannot afford to let this wave of change pass the region by, as we allowed in the 70’s and 80’s.

And no one will do this for us, not least Westminster or Whitehall. It is leaders in business, education and local politics in the North that must drive this.

I spent my youth growing up in Leeds, as it struggled to cope with the effects of ‘de-industrialisation’, followed by a crippling recession in the early 80’s. Too many people were left ill-equipped to deal with the change in industry. So much potential and talent was lost, and the opportunities for a new generation were not created. This failure to adapt and modernise cost the north dearly, and the reason why this new digital industrial revolution is so important is that we must be determined to do a much better job this time around.

I have also been privileged to lead a piece of work as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy looking at how we can win back our winning streak in this new Industrial Revolution. We have called this new movement ‘Made Smarter’ and you can read more about it here

The unique characteristics of the Northern Powerhouse mean that this region can and must lead this new ‘Made Smarter’ Industrial Revolution. A region of 15 million people, working together across traditional rivalries and boundaries in some of the most vibrant, productive and diverse cities, towns and communities in the UK.

So my call to action is for you to spread the word about how much potential our region has in this new digital industrial revolution, and carry this message beyond the business world and into our communities.

This is our chance, your chance to create your own Industrial Revolution – underpinned by digital technology, making things again, but much smarter and creating long lasting social value for the north of England.

New Siemens Rail factory plans hope to spark a new UK Rail Industrial Revolution!

Today marks a very important day for Siemens and one that I am hugely excited about. We are announcing our plans to build a new rail factory in the UK.

We have signed a long-term agreement for the lease of land in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire, with a view to establishing a new state-of-the-art factory there to manufacture and commission trains.

Our plan is to start phased development of the 67-acre (equivalent to 40 football pitches) site later this year if investment conditions are met, and if we’re successful in winning major future orders.

This development, which could mean an investment of up to £200m, marks a major milestone in Siemens’ journey in the UK and will provide a huge boost to the Yorkshire economy, the North of England, and UK plc as a whole.

I am very hopeful that this investment would spark a new generation of Railway manufacturing in the region and as such become a superb example of Industrial Strategy in action; UK and local infrastructure investments, leading to local high tech industrialisation and the creation of thousands of well paid jobs and a boost to the local economy.

We have already shown to make such an Industrial Strategy work in the Humber region, where our investment to build blades for the off-shore wind sector is now creating many more opportunities and new jobs in local supply chains and helping create economic prosperity across the Humber region.

We have a long history of being a pioneer in the UK rail sector. We developed Eurostar’s new e320 train, currently the fastest high-speed train in service in the UK, and recently delivered the re-signalling of the Victoria Line, which since May 2017 has been delivering a train on the Line every 100 seconds at peak time. We are also in the process of rolling out 115 state-of-the-art Class 700 trains for Thameslink.

This new rail factory would help to expand our UK presence even further, take our UK headcount in just the transport  sector to over 5000 and cement our status as a leader in the UK rail industry and manufacturing sector as a whole.

Nothing would please me more than this factory becoming an anchor for a new industry that is helping deliver a new state of the art Northern Powerhouse Railway, as it is high time that we better connect our great cities of the north.

The Northern Powerhouse is a vital element of our economic future, and I hope that with this investment we can help provide a massive economic boost and help create a new world class Northern Powerhouse Rail Industrial Revolution!

Read more about this exciting development at www.siemens.co.uk/goole

Why Britain must lead the fourth industrial revolution

 

Today we’re announcing the findings of the business led industrial digitalisation review, which has been branded as ‘Made Smarter UK’. Its aim, to set out the basis for how the UK can lead the fourth industrial revolution.

The work is the product of eight months work, led by a team of UK CEO’s from businesses large and small and it has been a privilege to lead the work. We have taken contributions from over 200 organisations including our world leading Universities, the CBI, Royal Academy of Engineering and our British R&D Catapult centres.

So why is this important, and why now? Firstly, we are at a critical juncture in politics and business. Brexit dominates the agenda and there are increasing uncertainties. The prospect of rising interest rates and inflation haunts consumers. Inward investment is becoming increasingly difficult. Short term challenges threaten to derail how the UK plans for the long term, and invests in the technologies that will help industry and specifically manufacturing thrive over the next two decades. As business leaders we have therefore focused on this very positive and tangible piece of work and not the short term uncertainties. We believe that we desperately need to have a long term economic vision for the country – regardless of Brexit, regardless of political instability and economic volatility.

Our review into digitalisation tries to address this need for a UK technology vision. We have concluded that the Government’s industrial strategy will need a red thread of digital running through its core. It will not be about reviving long gone industries but rather it will be about building the new ones, in AI, virtual reality, big data, machine learning, simulation platforms – the merging of creative digital tech and industrial tech. This will form a new vibrant and growing ‘creation sector’; creating digital tech, software, algorithms, digital media, games and many agile digital factories. Our proposals focus on how the UK can use these technologies and strengths to improve productivity, wages and the number of jobs in the economy. Industrial digitalisation could boost UK manufacturing by £455bn, increasing sector growth up to 3% per year; creating a net gain of 175,000 jobs whilst reducing CO2 emissions by 4.5% – and we think there could be a huge growth new jobs and businesses specialising in the new digital technologies of the future. Put simply, the opportunity is huge, and that is why countries across the globe are racing to invest in this new industrial revolution.

The UK however is being held back by a history of chronic underinvestment in innovation and skills, so we have identified a series strategic challenges government and industry must overcome.  The challenges include the need to increase the speed of adoption of industrial digital technologies, faster innovation of these same technologies, combined with stronger and more ambitious leadership to transform British industry.

For adoption we need a stronger national digital ecosystem. Government and industry should create a significantly more visible and effective ecosystem that will accelerate the innovation and diffusion of industrial digital technologies into manufacturing. We are proposing a National Adoption Programme piloted in the North West which as region has inherent technology strengths. Additionally we think we need to up-skilling one million workers to enable digital technologies to be deployed and successfully exploited through a Single Industrial Digitalisation Skills Strategy. To innovate the UK must re-focus the existing innovation landscape by increasing capacity and capability through 12 new ‘Digital Innovation Hubs’, eight large scale demonstrators and five digital research centres focused on developing new technologies part of a new National Innovation Programme. To strengthen leadership, business has called for the creation a national body, the Made Smarter UK (MSUK) Commission, comprising industry, Government, Academia, FE and leading Research and Innovation organisations, responsible for developing the UK as a leader in Industrial Digitalisation Technologies (IDT) and skills.

Industry is committed to working in partnership with Government to revive UK manufacturing, and firmly believes that only this combined package of measures, that go beyond business as usual and historical offerings, will achieve the level of ambition needed for the UK to be a world leader of the fourth industrial revolution. Britain made its way in the world by being at the forefront of the first industrial revolution in the 19th century. It capitalised on the second by leading in methods of mass production in the early 20th century. Somehow in the 1970’s we lost our way and missed out on the revolution of automation that countries like Germany embraced much better than we did. Now is the time to leap ahead and fully immerse the UK in digital – that way we won’t miss this fourth industrial revolution and be waiting with baited breath for a fifth. It’s down to today’s innovators and business leaders to get involved; to work in partnership with the public sector to ensure more longer-term thinking, and make sure all businesses invest and innovate to create a digitally led industrial Britain. My call to action to Government and the business community is to come together to embrace these proposals, as something positive we can get behind. Focusing on the long term challenge of embracing this new industrial revolution is vital if Britain is to succeed economically this century.

You can find the full review report here

Munduruku tribe and balanced debate

On Thursday last week our head office in the UK was the location for a colourful visit from members of the Munduruku tribe and Greenpeace protesters. The topic of protest, I recognise as an important debate and it is an active debate going on all over the world; How do countries build energy infrastructure to meet an ever higher demand of energy, at the same time making it affordable and with minimum adverse environmental and social impact. In this case the Munduruku tribe is very understandably concerned about the potential negative environmental impact hydroelectric dam projects in Brazil’s Amazon would have on their environment and community.

I was sorry not to be able to make the impromptu meeting with Chief Arnaldo Kabá Munduruku and Greenpeace, but receiving one days notice via an ‘open letter’ in the FT is an unusual way to request a meeting. Had I received a letter or an email I would have made a firm arrangement with them. Contrary to subsequent reports by Greenpeace, two of my senior leadership team were able to change their schedules and were on standby to welcome the visitors. The Chief was an eloquent ambassador for his people and the meeting was conducted on all sides in a very constructive, open and respectful manner.

Firstly, let me make clear that I personally and at Siemens, we very much share the same values of environmental protection and care for communities as Greenpeace and it was good that in their meeting with us they recognized and confirmed that. Sustainability is core to Siemens culture and we have been top of the Dow Jones sustainability index since its inception.

Secondly, let me also be clear that Siemens is not involved in any hydroelectric power projects in Brazil. In fact, our information is that the mega dam project in question was recently cancelled by the Brazilian Government.
For any major infrastructure project, it is always a complex balance between matching human needs for things like access to electricity, more travel and higher energy consumption with the need to protect unique habitat and prevent further pollution of our planet.

So, these difficult issues need objective debate supported by facts and scientific evidence of all the options available, enabling Governments to consult with their communities and choose the solution that matches the needs the best and causes the least harm. Unfortunately, I have never seen a major infrastructure project that matches all criteria and everyone’s wishes.

Regarding this Greenpeace organised visit I’m afraid, I have to question both the process and balance. What was the real intention of bringing this debate to Siemens in the UK? Of course we will have all identified with the potential risk and felt emotionally touched by the Munduruku tribe and their fear of being displaced. But do we now have a clear view of what the other options are? Would these create even more social displacement or negative environmental impact? Was there enough objective evidence from all sides?

We seem to be living in a new world of fast and social media that is mainly focused on sensational headlines and with complex and emotional issues like this debate we need it to be much more thoughtful, rational and fact based.

I’m personally very concerned by this trend and that we are allowing less space for experts views and balanced debate. Michael Gove’s now famous quote during his Brexit campaign of ‘Britain has had enough of experts’ a damning example of that.

I will certainly continue to listen to experts from all sides of any debate. On this particular one, I thank Greenpeace for providing me their view, but I will not be bullied into a position through headline grabbing campaigns at very short notice. If they’d like to meet me in the future – do just contact me in the normal way!

An exciting future for UK Manufacturing inside the EU Single Market

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Yesterday,  I got together with fellow CEO’s of Airbus and GKN, Paul Kahn and Nigel Stein, for a press conference, specifically on the future of UK manufacturing in relation to the EU referendum.

We represent three very strong UK manufacturing organisations, and together employ 35,000 people directly in this sector here.

We were joined by Vince Cable, Former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, who reminded us of the importance of UK’s manufacturing sector. Our Sector is responsible for nearly half of all of UK’s exports and two thirds of all Research & Development spend of UK Business, making manufacturing Britain’s key productivity and innovation engine.

Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, also spoke: “The future of job creation in this country, which means financial security for working people and their families, requires us to be in the single market, and yet leaving the single market is sole economic policy the Leave campaign has committee to.”

All of us speaking at this event have indeed become very concerned that the Leave campaign want to leave the single market, but believe that we can ‘retain access to it’. With our combined long term experience of operating within the Single Market, we don’t think this is realistic or achievable – and we want that message to be heard – that leaving the Single Market would be damaging for our industries future.

We however kept this conference very positive, as we want to see beyond the doom, gloom and scare stories of the current debate.

We, some of the leaders of our sector, very much look forward to a future of optimism and excitement. And let me explain why that is.

There are great things happening in manufacturing with huge opportunities in exciting technologies, like driverless cars; space technology, electric propulsion on aircraft just to mention a few.

This is where the jobs, skills and growth of the future for our industry are and we want to see more of that taking place here, in the UK.

However, the regulatory frameworks and research collaborations in these areas require scale and the big players – the EU, China and USA – are leading the way.  Outside of the EU, the UK will be less influential in those discussions and we will have to play by other people’s rules if we want to sell to them.

One such example is our brand new wind turbine factory in Hull, that will produce off-shore wind turbine blades and is creating 1000 new jobs.  We and the wider industry, are very keen to use this as a catalyst to build a much bigger industry in the Humber region and beyond. New engineering and service companies as part of our supply chain, and an innovation and skills centre creating technology of the future, that will enable the region to compete on a global stage and start exporting this technology at scale. We however can’t do this alone, we will need to collaborate with other EU countries, especially Germany and Denmark.  Inside the EU this is very easily possible.  Outside much less so.

So being very clear on this, I strongly believe that being outside the EU will count against the UK when investment decisions are made and we would miss out on these fantastic, future opportunities and the jobs and economic prosperity that will go with them.

And let me also explain why being a fully paid up member and inside the single market is so important, by using some practical examples.

Early in my career, as a factory manager, I remember the days when we used to have to put a different widget on every component that we shipped: a different one to Italy, a different one to France, a different one to Germany.

Today, working with other countries, through the Single Market, the UK plays a leading role in shaping industrial standards.  This has seen us reduce the number of standards in this area from 160,000 standards down to about 19,000 today.  In many cases 28 national and often protective regulations have been replaced with a single one.  Just imagine how this has enabled factories to become more efficient and hence bringing consumer prices down.

Creating this level playing field of standards has also had a real impact on everyday lives, but we tend to forget these.

EU Regulation and standards have massively improved the environmental impact of business and consumers here in the UK.

On a more personal level,  I remember how British beer was shut out of German markets because of the restrictive beer purity laws there.  That’s no longer the case because of Single Market rules.  I recall coming to the UK from Germany in 1974, when showers were not the norm in many British homes. I wanted to install a German made power shower but that wasn’t possible due to restrictive UK plumbing regulation.  Maybe you can remember the gravity fed hot water systems that were the British Standard back then, that meant our showers were a strong dribble at best. EU harmonisation of regulations brought power showers to the UK!

These may sound a little trivial, and sometimes amusing, but there were many, many other examples of such barriers to trade that have been systematically broken down by the Single Market.  Sure, this has created a bureaucracy, as these negotiations are complex and take a long time, and sometimes the EU has got a little too carried away with high profile examples of bananas and kettles, but we don’t hear of the 80% that have created a better and fairer EU.

To be clear I’m not advertising for lots more regulation. I have become very British and quite dislike it too, but the fact is, like it or not, it is just part of grown up responsible business.

So, my position from this event is clear: being part of the EU is good for the UK economy. We see no economic upside from leaving.  The EU is not perfect, but the benefits far outweigh the costs, and the notion that we can leave the single market but retain all of its benefits is delusional.

And in conclusion, our message yesterday was a simple one:  British manufacturing is stronger in the EU’s single market.

The truth about the EU Single Market

Communicating effectively about our EU membership is hard. It is a very complex issue, as a slight storm on my twitter account regarding the Single Market v. Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) yesterday revealed.

I’d like to pick this issue up in more detail, which I feel is being misrepresented in this Brexit debate. The truth is that a Canada,  Albania or any other type of Free Trade Agreement is considerably inferior to the EU Single Market we are a member of. The Brexit campaign has now loudly expressed their wish to leave the latter, but has given no explanation of the risks this represents to our economy.

Allow me to explain the difference between an FTA and the Single Market using a very practical, but real example.

I came to the UK with my family from Germany in 1974. One year after the UK joined the EU and therefore the European Economic Community. Prior to this the UK, like most European and Global markets had worked to protect their markets through import tariffs and protective regulation. So there was no single market and no or very limited free trade between the UK and Europe.

We wanted to import the car we had owned in Germany, a lovely and reliable Opel Kadett. It however made no financial sense, because the import tariffs and numerous technical changes that would have needed to be made to the vehicle, would have cost more than the value of the vehicle itself. Our next option was to buy an Opel Kadett ready imported by the manufacturer to the UK. This however would also have over stretched our budget, because Opel had to pay import tariffs and the cost of carrying out all the technical modifications in their factory before exporting. So instead, we had no choice, like most British people at that time and bought a Morris Marina. As anyone who owned one of these will no doubt confirm, it was one of the worst examples of British design and innovation to come out of UK’s 1970’s industrial decline. I can remember more journeys in which the car broke down than making it without trouble to our destination. Certainly not the Opel we were used to!

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Introducing an FTA would have removed the import tariffs on the more reliable Opel we wanted. However the much larger cost both physically and from an administration point of view were the numerous required technical changes. And it is only the Single Market that can and has removed these ‘non-tariff trade barriers’. Put simply, an FTA alone, would not have allowed us import or buy the car we wanted in the UK. But the Single Market would have made that difference and today provides for that greater consumer choice at better prices.

The EU single market has successfully harmonised such regulations across the entire EU for automotive and numerous other industries. And it is still being worked on now, like the harmonisation of EU mobile phone charges recently demonstrated very visibly. Now, carrying out this harmonisation is very complex and takes a long time. Every nation naturally wanting to influence to ensure their own standards remain. But when achieved, we have the situation we largely have today. A Renault made in France is as accessible to the UK consumer as is a Toyota made in the UK. It is even now possible to buy British brewed beer in Germany that for a long time protective laws in Germany prevented. And the value for money, technology and innovation has massively improved for all in the EU, as opening, smartly regulating and standardising markets always does. Doubters at the beginning of creating this single market, were concerned it would mean the end of the last of British engineering industry. The truth is that the previous closed and protected market was killing the industry and the decline would have continued at pace, had we not joined the single market. Today, the UK’s automotive Industry can hold its head up high and we are exporting more cars than ever before – the EU and single market having been the enabler and not the barrier for this. An FTA with EU markets alone would not have achieved that.

It is true that sometimes EU regulators got carried away, we’ve all heard stories about bananas and cucumbers, and we must work to stop such nonsense, but to use those high profile yet minor issues and ignore the vast progress made over decades in breaking down thousands of protective practices, is plain irresponsible. And that is what leaving the single market would mean and no FTA can replace that.

In summary, when we are told that we can leave the Single Market but still have access and all the benefits of it, that is not true, as we would have no influence on the harmonisation of the market and we would increasingly be confronted with the non-tariff barriers as I describe above. And then there is another key reason I have not yet covered, which is that FTA’s provide no or very limited access to free trade of services. That is so for Albania’s and Canada’s FTA with the EU and even Switzerland’s very advanced deal under EFTA provides for no free trade on financial services.

The Brexit campaign arguments to leave the Single Market, simply do not stack up economically.