In fact, it’s time for a woman. Among the nine vice-presidents of the Federation of German Industry (BDI) are two women: Hildegard Müller, who is president of the automotive industry full-time, was out of the question. But Ingeborg Neumann, a textile businessman from Berlin and an honorary leader of the textile association. Neumann was asked and even harassed, as it is called in association circles, but she did not want to. So again, man. On Monday, the BDI general assembly elected Siegfried Russwurm (57) to succeed Dieter Kempf, whose term expires after four years.
Russwurm has time to work on the Berlin stage. Since resigning as Siemens’ digital director in 2017, Franconian has been a member of the supervisory board of the Swabian engineering company Voith and the advisory board of the meat company Tönnies. IG Metall would like to see the social engineer as CEO of Thyssen-Krupp, where he sits on the supervisory board. However, he preferred to remain on the supervisory body and take over the chairmanship when Martina Merz moved to the top of the board of directors in 2919 to save the crisis group.
The state should invest more
Like its BDI predecessor, Russwurm understands something digital. And like Kempf, it is pushing for huge public investment in infrastructure and technology. A good year ago, Kempf sensed when, together with DGB President Reiner Hoffmann, he proposed a € 450 billion public investment program for ten years. Russwurm also promotes active status. “Confidence in the social market economy has been declining for years,” he said. And a pandemic widens the gap between rich and poor. “Sustainability,” says the new president of industry, “affects not only the environment but also social and economic.”
Dieter Kempf is the most important participant in German industry for the last four years. Photo: picture alliance / dpa
BDI is an umbrella organization of around 40 industry associations with more than 100,000 companies and eight million employees. Together with the DIHK and the Federal Association of Employers’ Associations (BDA), the BDI sits at the Haus der Wirtschaft in Berlin-Mitte, where it influences federal policy.
Four years ago, Ulrich Grilla was replaced by Dieter Kempf, former CEO of IT service provider Datev and president of the IT association Bitkom. Kempf also began his presidency by calling for more money and investment in transport, energy and digital networks, as well as education. In terms of digitization, Germany’s competitiveness is “worrying”, and in terms of internet speed, the Federal Republic of Europe is only in the middle of 31 countries. With Corona, it will be much different now.
Joe Kaeser was also said to be interested
The public sector spends money on a scale that was unimaginable a year ago to fight the effects of a pandemic. Also to support future technologies such as hydrogen, which are necessary for the decarbonisation of industry. Without a strong industry that is successful in world markets, the level of “prosperity and participation” is difficult to maintain, says Russwurm. It is now the most important player in the industry, which includes mechanical and plant engineering, the chemical, pharmaceutical and electrical industries.
Joe Kaeser, as he hears on the Berlin Association scene, would also like to become president of the BDI. The head of Siemens, who is aware of the mission, will resign in early 2021 and then work on the supervisory board of Siemens Energy AG. He would therefore have time and good access to the (current) federal government. But Russwurm became president of the BDI. The same Russwurm who left Siemens because of Kaeser.