CFO of CHIRON Group
“Creating Turnkey Solutions”
Vanessa Hellwing, CFO, CHIRON Group, has always been considered a steadfast leader. After joining the company, she initiated restructuring measures such as merging companies, consolidating production sites including mass layoff, and carving out loss-making business areas. Vanessa’s key to success was her human, listening, and consensus-driven attitude. Besides restructuring, which means looking at the past and correcting former decisions, she is not getting tired of pushing the organization towards permanent development. The world is moving faster, and she has engaged futurologists, think tanks, task forces, and consultants on research in areas such as hydrogen applications. For her, thinking out of the box must be the main driver of a technology enterprise like CHIRON is.
Within the machining industry, there are very rare female leaders. Vanessa was the youngest and often the only woman in the leadership teams for most of her career – the situation persists today. With two kids at the age of 6 and 9 years, she demonstrates that mothership and career are possible even in industries where it is still a stony road in a top management position while playing an active role in a loving family. A few weeks after the birth of her second child, she was back to the office, demonstrating to the female employees, “It works and I will be there to support it! Enjoying a coffee while undisturbingly reading your emails is what many young mothers dream about, but honestly, breast milk from the boss in a team’s fridge is not an easy topic.” Armed with this ideology, she has been leading the company towards great heights.
The CHIRON Group, headquartered in Tuttlingen, is a global company specializing in CNC vertical milling and mill-turn machining centers and turnkey manufacturing solutions. The Group has a global presence, with production and development sites, sales and service subsidiaries, and sales agencies worldwide. With a workforce of 2100 employees, it generated €443 million in revenue in 2019. Today, their machining centers still find great sales in this market, e.g., bone implants are being made on CHIRON machines.
“We have already seen for a few years that the market is getting tighter. In the automotive industry, which accounts for about 60% of our business, there is uncertainty about the future direction," she explains. Other industries find themselves more and more in a price war despite producing more and more complex parts. "Apart from that, our customers only earn money if the machine produces good parts. If we combine these two topics, we are exactly with CHIRON products," adds Vanessa. The dynamics and performance of the machines make it possible to reduce cycle times and thus the costs on the workpiece. Lower costs on the workpiece offer customers better price flexibility or higher margins.
In addition, the company's R&D is continuously working on new and better solutions. In the last five years alone, six new machine types with different features and two new automation solutions were introduced to the market. This was done simultaneously as various facelifts of existing machine types and the development of 7 software solutions, e.g., for monitoring the machine. "This can only be achieved with very good and highly motivated employees."
According to Vanessa, additive manufacturing is still in its early days, but the technology is becoming increasingly interesting. CHIRON has invested in a startup, which has made considerable progress in the last two years. There are simply workpieces for which a material application is worthwhile, or for high-priced workpieces, a repair process can be significantly more economical. Furthermore, the topic of automation is becoming more and more attractive in the industry.
Besides, Germany is considered a pioneer in the area of AI applications. "Here, we are already running several projects where we are testing and analyzing the adaptation of such technologies in our products and business processes," explains Vanessa. "Another interesting topic for us is the digital sales process. This is not only aimed at a new website, but also at the use of video technology, for example. With the video technology we bring the product presentation to him and save travel costs and travel time on both sides." IEWL
CFO of CHIRON Group
The CHIRON Group, headquartered in Tuttlingen, is a global company specializing in CNC vertical milling and mill-turn machining centers, as well as turnkey manufacturing solutions. The Group has a global presence, with production and development sites, sales and service subsidiaries, and sales agencies worldwide. With a workforce of 2100 employees, it generated €443 million in revenue in 2019. Around two thirds of machines and solutions that are sold are exported. Key customer sectors are the automotive, mechanical engineering, medicine and precision engineering, aerospace industries and tool production.