Getting to know better : Jean-Paul Schuler
Jean-Paul holds a Master degree in Mechanical Engineering from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (K.I.T.), Germany. He is an INSEAD and ILA certified Director.
Jean-Paul gained an extensive experience in operation, sales and product development as part of the ArcelorMittal group in Luxembourg, Turkey, Germany, U.K. and P.R. of China. During his > 35 years career he held different CEO, COO and Board member positions.
From 2013 to 2018 he was CEO of Luxinnovation G.I.E., the national agency for innovation and research. During these period he completely restructured the agency. The field of activities more than doubled and the staff increased from <40 to almost 70. Currently Jean-Paul is working as freelance consultant.
What are in your opinion, the key attributes for a Director?
There are 5 key attributes for a Director:
Experience: Having worked several years in a senior management position, preferentially as CEO, with a deep experience in handling the needs of multiple stakeholders is key.
The ability to work under pressure: Keeping cool in the face of pressure (from shareholders, outside, crisis, etc).
Emotional intelligence: Monitor both your own and other board members emotions. Use emotional information as a support for your own thinking and behaviour.
Strategic thinking: Focus on finding and developing unique opportunities to create value for the company.
Being open-minded: Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
What do you think makes a great Board?
The Key for a great board is diversity, respect and team work. On the operational side: Lead not manage and provide strategic rather than operational support.
What does integrity in the Boardroom means to you?
Integrity, honesty, trust and ethics are critical to an organisation’s culture. The Board must be concerned about these values inside and outside of the boardroom. The Board must lead by example.
What would you change to improve the effectiveness of Luxembourg Boards?
In order to improve Luxembourg boards the target should be:
select the board members only on their competences and experience
avoid to put in place passive or “rubber-stamp” boards
seek for diversity in the Board (culture, experience, gender, age)
What does the outlook of Luxembourg look like, 10 years from now?
Since end of the 19th century Luxembourg has always succeeded in converting threats into new opportunities. First change from a poor agricultural state to the world largest steel producing country by capita, then develop a high performance financial industry which will still grow by developing new fields like Fintech.
Knowing that Luxembourg needs further growth to maintain the high social standards an increase of productivity in all sectors (private and public) is the key challenge for the upcoming years. A continuing increase in workforce would worsen the already dramatic situation on traffic, housing and land resources.
Digitization is key: do more with same (less) people. This is the threat for the upcoming years.
How can ILA contribute to the economy, better boards and society?
ILA plays a key role in developing the skills of the Board members and Board secretaries with trainings, workshops and conferences. Well educated and trained board members are key for the success of the Luxembourg economy.