Silvia, Marco – thank you very much for taking the time. Let’s start at the beginning. What was your first reaction when you heard of the idea of having both of you as interim managers?

Silvia: Thank you very much for giving us a space here! To be honest, taking over the interim management of CEAM was born out of necessity: we were at the height of the pandemic and no one was allowed to travel. As a result, no external candidates could come forward. The times were very tough and new topics kept popping up. It was difficult.

Marco: That is why Boris Katic, COO of the LA EMEA region at the time, decided that it would be the best solution if we both led the management team. This was, of course, an exciting opportunity for us, but also a major challenge. Mainly because Silvia and I didn’t know each other very well at the time. She only came to CEAM a few months ago.

Silvia[lacht]: And to be honest, after the few times we had met, we didn’t really like each other. But Boris had seen something in us that we didn’t know about at the time

How did you get from \”not liking each other\” to the high level of trust that I see in you today?

Silvia: Marco and I didn’t have a good start because of stupid misunderstandings. I was completely new to the company and was responsible for quality. He had just taken over the company. He had the feeling that I would pass him over and disrespect his role. I thought he had a wrong idea of his own meaning and would put unnecessary hurdles in my way. After the offer was on the table for both of us, we decided to take a long drive together and started talking on a professional and personal level. It was very open, very personal!

Marco: DThis was absolutely crucial and an important insight from this is: be ready to open up and let barriers fall – that can help you get rid of the stomach pain. We then spent even more time together discussing the setup. What can I contribute? What can Silvia contribute? What can we contribute to the company? And we decided, \”Oh, really?! That could actually work very well!\” Things simply came together in a natural way. At the end of the day, we were delighted to have become interim managers together.

A strong duo: Marco Artoli and Silvia Ribezzi from CEAM Cavi Speciali

In 2021, you were appointed permanent MD duo at CEAM due to your excellent results. What is the key to ensuring that the dual management structure works?

Marco: It is very important to us that the roles are clearly defined to avoid misunderstandings. Silvia is responsible for quality, technology and sales, while I am responsible for operations and finance. This means that people always know who they need to contact when it comes to technical issues.

Silvia: Nevertheless, some people tested us at the beginning. They came to both of us with the same questions and tested whether we were of the same opinion. So the key for us is to communicate a lot and discuss any differences of opinion between the two of us.

Marco: This is actually the most important thing for us: many, many matches! We have very open and controversial discussions, but as soon as we leave the room, we have agreed on a solution that we stand by 100 percent. Noone can interfere with us – both internally and with customers, for example.

Why do you think people reacted like this?

Silvia: When we were appointed, many people in the company were not happy about it or at least had a lot of unanswered questions about the fact that I am so young, that I am new to the company, that I am a woman…

Marco: …that I am even younger, that I am the son of the previous owner, and so on. Or points such as, \”Why those, why not me?\” \”I’ve been here a lot longer, I’ve got a lot more experience\”. There was a lot of prejudice.

Silvia: NNot just within the company, but also within the LAPP Group. And I understand that, as the appointment of the two of us is certainly a unique decision.

If we add up our age (I am 31 and Silvia is 37), we are still younger than some other managers at LAPP. But I am confident that we will be able to prove that it is not just about age and experience.

What is your approach?

Silvia: We are fully aware that we are quite young, and we recognise that. There is a lot that we don’t know. This is why we value the experience and knowledge of other people. We ask them for their opinion and encourage a constructive process.

Marco: This is the quintessence of our management philosophy. We do not claim to know everything or have all the answers. On the contrary, we claim to know nothing. You cannot be an expert at every level, especially in the way we grow. Our task is to pool our specialist knowledge, align the different departments with the same goals and provide the best possible working environment for our experts.

Does the dual MD constellation have any unique advantages for the company?

Silvia: Because we are so different, we often have very different perspectives and opinions on issues. As a duo, we have a 360° view. And from a human perspective, some people will like Marco better and find it easier to talk to him, others to me. So if they have something on their mind, they will talk to the one they like best. So, as an MD duo, we always get more feedback, more impressions and more openness from the team than a single person.

Marco: If there is a major problem, we always talk to people together. Most of the time, we act as a good cop/bad cop (our roles depend on the topic), which leads to very good results for people.

Which principles that you apply can also be useful for other managers?

Silvia: Be a link, build up personal connections! Look for a sparring partner at the same hierarchical level and with similar tasks to yourself, whom you can fully trust. You will make better decisions. Also stay really connected with your employees in the company. Be approachable and accessible. Make jokes and be prepared to endure jokes too.

Marco: Yes, if people feel that they can tell you anything, you get better feedback and they find it easier to accept your feedback. Creating such an environment goes beyond the company. We always try to network our experts with colleagues from other parts of the LAPP Group. They share many of the same challenges and can learn so much from each other – I am convinced that there are great opportunities for LAPP here.

The interview was conducted by Tobias Matthiess.