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How did the year 2023 unfold for RHI Magnesita and the refractory industry at large?
This year brought unexpected demand challenges for the entire industry worldwide – the worst year in the past 15 years from that perspective. It put productivity pressures on our employees; we need to fight high inflation in many countries; we deal with quickly rising financing costs. I am mostly proud of how the RHI Magnesita team acted, and how each person fulfilled their role: thanks to them, our company showed operational and financial strength, a testament to dedication and hard work. This serves as a promising sign for the upcoming year.
How do you stay afloat and, moreover, remain a leader?
To overcome these challenges and maintain a leadership position, we are laser-focused on short-term execution and, at the same time, keeping a rather long-term strategic approach. Over the past four years, we’ve invested over EUR 850 million in our facilities, focusing on reducing costs, improving quality, optimizing our production network, and ensuring the smooth delivery of our commitments. This period of investment has made us much stronger for the future.
An important part of our strategy involves prioritizing the safety and well-being of our employees. In 2023, we increased our investments in physical safety infrastructure, expanded our expert staff, introduced digital tools safety, and reinforced safety training. Our longstanding belief is that people drive progress, contributing significantly to our overall resilience.
What were the main achievements of RHI Magnesita in 2023?
Despite the turbulence, our great team achieved a lot – here are a few highlights:
We’ll use these positive results as motivation to propel ourselves forward because there’s always space for further growth and enhancement; all while actively listening to our customers.
Now Holiday blitz questions – fun but still related to business. Define your leadership style: do you glide through the corporate landscape like a figure skater or blaze a trail like a daring snowboarder?
Neither one: I prefer to play the role of the coach, but in the midst of the ring. For some activities, we employ the world’s best refractory figure skaters, whom I trust and support; for others, we have our existing daring snowboarders, who are also top-notch, and whom I can guide and advise.
Without a doubt, we need to ensure room for creativity and agility, akin to occasional “pirouettes”… and sometimes even a little cozy nap under a Christmas tree. I always aim for weighted decisions and case-specific strategies.
In all of this, solid partnerships and intense teamwork are crucial. The entire Executive Management Team is a very high-performance team; and enjoy working with each other.
If you were to gift your company a theme song for the holidays, would it be a classic carol or a modern jingle?
Probably a modern jingle – it resonates with our identity as innovator, frontrunner, and pioneer, always oriented toward the future.
If your company were a Holiday movie genre, would it be a heartwarming comedy, a thrilling action flick, or a dramatic saga?
In light of recent external uncertainties, our narrative aligns closely with that of a suspenseful thriller (one where the good guy always wins at the end). Despite unforeseen events, we consistently find a positive resolution.
Obviously, maintaining a warm atmosphere within the company is a precondition for dealing with the tough world out there. This necessitates an approachable management team and space for occasional celebrations, fun, and laughter. Unnecessary drama is simply not on our script.
To sum everything up, on behalf of the RHI Magnesita Executive Management Team and our Board of Directors, I extend warm holiday wishes and a profound thank-you to all our employees, partners, investors, customers, suppliers, and supporters. The success of RHI Magnesita is a testament to your unwavering passion and engagement. Here’s to a new season filled with joy, success, and the anticipation of a blockbuster sequel in 2024!
By Dana Đikić