From sustainable development projects to infrastructure works and energy efficiency, Siemens remains committed to Romania. Corina Mica talks to newly-appointed CEO George Costache about the ups and downs of the country's economic life
The buzzword these days in every aspect of Romanian life, from social to political via business, is also putting its mark on the operations of German giant Siemens, which has been maximizing its local presence for a number of years.
Fresh at the helm of the century-old company is George Costache, who now oversees four main playing fields in Romania: Industry, Infrastructure and Cities, Energy and Healthcare. Siemens operates 11 companies in Romania and has four production facilities nationwide, employing a total of 2,100 people.
"We have had a good year for Siemens in Romania," the CEO tells The Diplomat - Bucharest. "We have seen very good results in the industry sector. We have become involved in several fields where we did not produce results before, such as energy efficiency. We have found new ways of running our business; all in all, things are going well."
One particular Siemens project the CEO is fond of is the Smart Grid, which he says enables decentralised energy feed-in and better capacity utilization and allows for intelligent power distribution, intelligent consumption as well as electro mobility and smart buildings.
"One of the most interesting elements of the project is energy efficiency and energy saving," says Costache. "Once one controls the grid, one can control consumption as well, and we want to introduce the concept in Romania. This country's energy system firstly needs better means of transport, and this is under the umbrella of power grid company Transelectrica, and then, it needs more investments in renewable energy. I do not think we are using this country's assets at their full capacity in this respect."
Costache feels one of the main barriers to the profitable development of state-owned companies in Romania is a clear management strategy. "Many companies don't perform well due to poor management," he says. "Just take a look at the difference between rail freight companies, the state-owned versus the private. Why is the latter profitable? Because of its management. In the power business you don't need management on the production side, but where it really counts: how you market and sell your product."
The 53-year-old brings to the task relevant experience in the field.
A graduate in hydrotechnics from the Technical Construction Institute in Bucharest, his 26-year career has taken him from civil engineering jobs to head of sales and country manager in a diverse range of industries.
Costache says he is committed to his mission as the new head of Siemens in Romania.
"As an anecdote, I took on the job on September 1, which was on a Saturday, and on Tuesday morning I took part in a meeting in Hamburg to discuss wind energy projects," he says.
"My colleagues seemed shocked, you just took on the position, what are you doing here?' I replied that considering the value of the projects I should have arrived on Sunday! There are so many projects on the table and I love this field."
He goes on to say he has always valued highly Siemens' policy of investing in training and educating its employees.
"Each Siemens employee takes at least one training course every year," he says, "and there are so many things to be dome in this country... The new financial planning of the European Community is about to start, and I believe now is the time for companies our size to join Government commissions and show what things can be done, either from the perspective of a company our size, or from the standpoint of ordinary Romanians."
Looking back at his career, Costache says he most enjoyed creating teams. "Not by myself, of course, but with my colleagues, with all employees. It is a fantastic thing to know all sorts of people and make them function as a puzzle. This is one of my accomplishments and I am now very happy to see that the people I found in this company, some of them not very well appreciated beforehand, have developed and have managed to accomplish things no one believed they could do."
When he isn't working, Costache enjoys spending time with his family. The CEO married in 1991 and the couple has a daughter and a son, aged 20 and 12 respectively. "We all do sports and we love to travel. We are travellers, not tourists; we take our time getting to know a place we visit and it takes us about a week to recover after we come back from one of our trips," he says.
Costache says the last two locations his family visited that impressed him the most are Iceland and Florida, and his next dream destination would be Greenland or India.
"I haven't found the right plane to take me to Greenland, but eventually that will happen," he concludes, smiling.
How he got here
George Catalin Costache
Married, two children
1984 Bachelor in hydrotechnics from the Technical Construction Institute of Bucharest
Since September 1, 2012: CEO and Member of the Administration Board at Siemens Romania
2010 - 2012: Country Division Lead ICS/MT, Siemens Romania
2009 - 2010: General Manager, Veolia Water Solutions and Technologies
2003 - 2008: Country Division Lead IA/DT, Siemens Romania
1995 - 2003: Sales & Marketing Manager, Danfoss
1990 - 1995: Department manager for maintenance and flood fighting, Romanian Water Authority
1986 - 1990: Civil Engineer, Crevedia Bucharest