At R&M since
Head of production, procurement, human ressources, account management
R&M China, Kunshan
The story of Maximilian Willeitner
Please give us a brief overview of your career.
Since I liked to work with wood as a child, I completed a carpentry apprenticeship after school and then did diploma courses in wood technology as well as economics and environmental technology in Germany. During my studies, I completed a compulsory internship in China.
Actually, it just happened. Many of my fellow students stayed in Europe or went to the United States. A report from the Bavarian TV then gave me the idea to live in China. The report portrayed a company that produces wooden toys in China. I applied at this company and received a positive reply. In 2006, the country in the far east was still very different, compared to today’s situation. Much less open and characterized by significantly less industry. It was great to achieve a lot and people are grateful for your know-how. In the beginning, you will experience one or the other cultural barrier, but when you start communicating you will find your way around quickly.
How did you become aware of the R&M Group?
Before joining the R&M Group, I spent three years working for a shop interior manufacturer in Shanghai. A short time later, I got in contact with my current manager through a headhunter. The job as well as the R&M Group and the portfolio fascinated me right away, and I attain the position as Plant Manager in January 2019.
Describe your tasks as Plant Manager.
Motivation and stringency are required. It is important to keep track of all areas such as purchasing, human resources, production, etc., to be able to delegate tasks, but also to intervene and to support the staff morally and practically. For this you certainly must bring the necessary empathy and here in China, you especially must understand and internalize the culture.
What is particularly important to you in your daily business?
Part of my philosophy is maintaining an open communication culture in order to include as many voices as possible. This means conducting many employee appraisals, having the right handling of criticism and the best result for the company in mind.
With a team of different nationalities, there are probably cultural challenges. What exactly are these?
Above all, there are great language barriers. My Chinese is not the best. However, I can understand and talk a lot, which simplifies many things. Basically, you must understand and respect the Chinese culture. In Asia, for example business partners always like to talk to the executives personally. Therefore, I lead many conversations myself, which usually meets greater acceptance.
What do you particularly appreciate about your team?
That I can always rely on them, even in difficult times. Of course, sometimes opinions meet incomprehension. But in the end, everyone strives to business success and does its best.
What are you most looking forward to when you come back to Germany?
I am in Germany twice a year. In China, the holidays take place in February (Spring Festival) and October (Golden Week), so I like to travel home to Germany then. That means I do not celebrate Easter and Christmas. However, I know that the production is closed, and nobody needs me. Iam especially looking forward to eat my mother's food. At the airport, I usually treat myself to a “Weisswurst” breakfast with wheat beer, that is a must. Otherwise, I eat a lot of cheese and bread, which is not available in China or is very expensive to buy there. Otherwise, I look forward to my garden and the oaks, the cats and especially to my family and friends.
Tell me about your most exciting project.
During my short time at R&M, every project has been exciting so far. We always need to be flexible in responding to the market, and so we always must adjust the planning. Currently, we are planning the production of wet rooms including tiles. Furthermore, we are building sample wet units for presentation purposes. These are both very interesting projects.
What do you particularly appreciate most about the R&M Group?
That the relationship with colleagues is excellent and professional. Your work is appreciated, and the management trusts you. In addition, I can rely on my employees to 1000%. We work closely together. When I am with colleagues at the headquarters in Hamburg, it feels like coming home. It was the right step to become part of the R&M Group.
© Photo: Li Lin