DI Erik Hagander

RHI Head of Business Development
DSC_5994In a nutshell, refractories are hidden treasures; they are ubiquitous but more or less invisible. Practically any industry, be it glass, nonferrous metals, cement, lime or the chemical industry, depends on refractories. Based on this premise, RHI – a key cooperation partner ofLauderBusinessSchool– has become the world’s market and technology leader in high-grade ceramic refractory materials. To retain the number-one position globally, RHI actively pushes further growth. Erik Hagander, the company’s Head of Business Development, offered the LBS community fascinating insights on how to secure raw material (i.e. magnetite) supplies and enter new markets.

Given the limited growth in Western Europe, RHI is currently looking to its emerging strongholds in the Asian-Pacific region and in theAmericas. Though RHI has not yet started activity inAfrica, this continent is on the radar of the business development unit. According to Mr. Hagander population growth, an increasing standard of living, urbanization and industrialization are among the key growth drivers also in the refractories sector. TheU.S., for instance, will become energy self-sufficient, which is a great opportunity for profit. To ensure success in entirely new markets, RHI acquires a local company with local people and expertise. They will subsequently be trained by European expatriates to better function within the RHI corporate environment. Needless to say, RHI’s business developers must cope with tricky legal, political and market conditions in countries such as the BRIC states.

DSC_6071No doubt, RHI’s expansion plans are ambitious. But they are also solidly grounded in a 180-year long history of entrepreneurship and innovation. Stability is not the only core quality indicator for refractories, customer relations and career tracks at RHI are also extremely stable.

In response to criticism of excessive energy consumption, RHI seeks to reach sustainability goals through innovative technology. Erik Hagander explained that energy consumption can be markedly cut by better performance and higher life-time of insulating materials. R&D investments in this area are rising, even though business customers in countries such as Chinado not (yet) value energy sustainability.DSC_6041

Many of the LBS students in the audience also seized the opportunity to approach Dkfm. Michael Merzbach, RHI Head of Human Resources, and members of his team to inquire about job opportunities. ‘We are looking for mobile, flexible, multicultural, intelligent, and hard-working people’, summarized Mr. Hagander. Good analytical skills, an affinity to technical products, multilingual assets beyond English and preferably sound German skills are door-openers for a career with the world-leading refractories producer – either at its Vienna headquarters or on one of its production sites across the globe.

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