Schaeffler – Member Profile
- Read Time: 8 mins
An Interview with Steven Riley, Regional Manager of WAGBA's Platinum Member
Steven Riley, Regional Manager of Schaeffler and Committee Member of the WAGBA
2012– joined Schaeffler as a Sales and Service Engineer, whose role was to support OEM and distribution for customers in both commercial and technical requirements for Western Australia
2017– appointed State Manager for Western Australia
2018– appointed Regional Manager West in 2018 with a change of senior management and a shift in customer focus, which has given him the responsibility for the sales regions of Western Australia, South Australia and the Northen Territory
For October’s edition of InTouch, Schaeffler Regional Manager and WAGBA committee member Steven Riley has graciously set aside some time for a short interview for this member profile for InTouch.
Founded in 1946 by brothers Dr. Wilhelm and Dr.-Ing. E.H. Georg Schaeffler, Schaeffler found its beginnings as Industrie GmbH in Herzogenaurach, focusing on its textile and metal-working and -forming sectors. Decades later, the family business successfully established itself as a leading global supplier in providing rolling element bearings to the automotive and industrial sectors. As a pioneer within the industry, Schaeffler manufactures their high-precision components in an innovative, efficient, intelligent- and most importantly- sustainable manner that has brought a significant impact to its clients within the industrial sector. In 2021, the Schaeffler group generated the sales figure of approximately EUR 13.9 billion; and with more than 1,800 patent applications in 2021, the company has solidified its position as Germany’s third most innovative company according to the DPMA (German Patent and Trademark Office). Combined with a combined total of 85,000 employees in the world, the company has undoubtedly established itself as one of the world's largest family-owned companies. As part of its identity, Schaeffler places its focus on maintaining the familial aspects in the modus operandi of its business, as opposed to the corporate side of operations.
Could you fill me in a bit on the story behind the motivation of Schaeffler to join WAGBA?
"We've been aware of WAGBA as an organisation, and our MD at the time saw great value in joining German associations. We investigated WAGBA and it seemed like a good opportunity for us to increase our profile here in Perth, and to get involved in activities and functions to engage with the local business community as well."
Was it an obvious decision to make?
"It was, once it was investigated, yes."
How long has it been since Schaeffler joined the association, and how has this membership translated into the way Schaeffler conducts its business in WA?
"It’s been four or five years since we joined the association. It hasn’t really changed the way we do our business. Schaeffler is a very large company - we have around 85,000 employees around the world. We are very structured in the way we conduct our business, and our industrial business is via distribution as well as to a select number of OEM’s; we have distributors selling our products, and we have a limited original equipment supply direct business as well. That has been in place for many years, so that hasn’t changed since we’ve been involved with WAGBA. But what has changed is our engagement with other local businesses – specifically other local German businesses– based here in Perth. It’s also more exposure to the political landscape- we get more exposure to the Minister of Mining than what we had previously."
What have been the benefits of being the platinum member of WAGBA for so many years?
"Exposure is probably the biggest benefit. It’s more exposure to the political side of things, and also increased engagement with other businesses as well. Having contact with the extended network has certainly been an advantage to Schaeffler. It has also opened doors to building relationships and hopefully getting returning businesses."
Where do you see this relationship going and is there any aspect of this membership you would like to focus or improve on in the future?
"The relationship will be ongoing- there is no intention for Schaeffler to move away from WAGBA; we’ve seen advantages in this relationship. In terms of improving on this relationship, I think allowing other people from within Schaeffler to engage with WAGBA, and allowing them to further their network opportunities by exposure and providing them with the opportunity to come to the networking events that take place is a good place to start."
As a committee member, you have been involved in the WAGBA Graduate Exchange Program since the beginning. What qualities and skills would you, as the Regional Manager of Schaeffler, like to see or expect from the candidates that are applying?
"Schaeffler being the technology company that it is - relevance for us from that perspective is technical capabilities. We have a sales and service function here in the West; our head office is in Sydney, and they do processing, supply chain, and so on. The people that I would look for would have technical capabilities and potentially an interest in technical sales and technical services. The candidate could potentially be studying engineering or supply chain, but it is a service-based function that we have, so they would have to be interested in engaging with customers as well- we can’t have someone who just wants to sit in an office and hide behind a computer."
"We investigated WAGBA and it seemed like a good opportunity for us to increase our profile here in Perth, and to get involved in activities and functions to engage with the local business community as well."
Will Schaeffler actively support the program to Graduates by providing internship opportunities in WA or in Germany?
"Schaeffler has a strong internal internship program - we very often have interns coming out of Germany and engaging in our head office in Sydney. Schaeffler does very well in that space. With regard to engaging with local interns and sending them to Germany, we would have to look into that, because obviously we have a structure in place already from the other direction. But we would certainly be open to a conversation - obviously there are no guarantees to do anything at the moment but we could certainly talk about it."
Finally, how do you see WAGBA in the near future?
"Hopefully WAGBA will continue to grow and remain as the dynamic institution it is at the moment. I’ve been involved in many associations over the years, and the quality of the association is only as good as the people that are in it. I think WAGBA has some very good people at the moment - like Torsten and Stephan as well as the other committee members - they’ve certainly provided a lot of energy and a lot of credibility for the association, so I see it being strong in the near future. Like I said, it’s all about the quality of the people, so we need to keep bringing in new people to continue the ongoing strength of the association."