Diversity involves 'designing products to local specifications', says Miele Group boss

Excerpt from CEO Middle East's Five Minute Interview with Miele Group's Richard Zinkann
Diversity involves 'designing products to local specifications', says Miele Group boss
By Shayan Shakeel
Mon 21 Jan 2019 01:12 PM

Luxury appliance maker Miele Group produces some of the world's most beloved – and expensive – kitchen and home products. In the Middle East, the company's appliances can be found in the Burj Khalifa, Palazzo Versace as well the most extravagant homes in Dubai's posh Emirates Hills district.

Experiencing a surge in demand for its products in the region, the company recently opened its first centre of excellence in the city, during which partner and co-proprietor Richard Zinkann spoke with CEO Middle East about what drives him in his role at the company.

How do you pursue diversity in your organisation?

It starts with products that must be designed to the technical specifications of the regional markets and countries concerned. Diversity in the team is for Miele not only a matter of decency and propriety, but also an approach which makes sound economic sense.

What makes Miele’s products stand out from the crowd?

Our ‘Immer Besser’ brand promise, expressing our pursuit of  being ‘forever better’ than the competition and striving to become better than we already are. We are assisted by our focus on first-class domestic and commercial machines, and by our continuous positioning in the premium and luxury segments. So we strive not only to satisfy customers but to delight them by offering that little bit more.

Is there a leader who has had a particular impact on your own work ethic?

My own most important adviser and mentor was and indeed still is my father, through his calm leadership style. He listened carefully, packed criticism into suggestions and visited employees in their offices instead of summoning them. Apart from that, the former BMW CEO Eberhard von Kuenheim impressed me greatly as a leader. I learned a lot from him when I first worked as a trainee at BMW and later as a young sales executive. He demanded a lot, but also gave me a lot of trust and freedom.

What is the biggest determinant of a person’s progress in a workplace such as yours?

We believe in trusting them to assume responsibility and also to be able to make mistakes – from which they must learn. Employees should not just driven by career thinking but, more importantly, from a sense of identification with their duties and the company at large.

Which characteristics should leaders possess?

Authenticity in the way they come across, consistency in both their actions and speech – and the ability to motivate those around them.

What inspires you?

Good conversations, good books and impressions from my many journeys all over the world. Relaxing works best with classical music, especially opera, and sailing. I am also very interested in history and art.

A motto to live your life by?

I consider the inheritance of my father to be a gift on loan from my son.

Finish this sentence, “the world would be a better place if only….”

People were more tolerant, more generous and less dogmatic.

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