Career Story: Steffen Langner, TE Connectivity

March 13, 2018

Global Executive MBA alumnus

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?

Doing an internship semester in the USA in the mid-90s and staying in the country for three years afterwards. This was a great experience that has taught me a lot in terms of interacting with other cultures and understanding the American way of leadership, which in turn was helpful in the context of successfully tackling the next challenges in my career in US businesses. Also, starting a family and becoming a father of 3 sons, who have grown up in a multicultural environment and are now carving out successful careers for themselves has had a great impact on me. Finally, studying for my MBA degree, coupled with the opportunity to accept leadership responsibility in operational units, to align them with the overall vision and to establish lean production systems and foster sustainable organizational development, was an important experience.

Did you originally want to pursue a different career? If so, what made you change your plans?

I always wanted a job involving electronics in one way or another, but, initially, my plans were not very clear. However, I soon realized that as far as your career is concerned, you have considerable freedom of choice and can do many things, no matter what your original aspirations and goals were. What matters in this context is to be willing and eager to always keep learning and developing.

How and why did you come to work for TE Connectivity?

In the course of my career, I have acquired a wide variety of leadership and functional experience in product management, customer service and support as well as sales and production. The offer to prepare the ground for the introduction of platform concepts provided me with an opportunity to put this experience to good use and deepen my understanding of organizational development.

What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals? What concrete career opportunities have opened up for you?

I have changed in many ways because of the MBA experience. To begin with, studying for an MBA degree while working full-time was an ambitious endeavor, as a result of which my time-management skills have improved. Moreover, the things we learned have helped me be more efficient in my daily work when it comes to dealing with aspects of business management such as finance as well as with strategy, statistics and globalization. Also, I would not want to be without the opportunity to compare notes with my MBA colleagues. Even after graduating, I have frequently benefited from interacting with them. And last but not least, all of this has positively influenced my development in my organization. Since attending the MBA program, I have had only global responsibility in my positions.

What has been your biggest professional/personal success?

By the time I enrolled in the MBA program, my team and I had opened up the European temperature-measuring-technology market for a US business, thereby substantially strengthening its global market leadership. Immediately after earning my degree, I was appointed to lead a number of reorganization measures, which required me, inter alia, to organize, within a short period of time, relocations to other countries in Europe. This has allowed me to improve my project management skills and my ability to assess the process stability of the product line that was to be relocated.

What are your goals for the coming year? Your goals in general? Is there still something you absolutely want to do?

At present, I hold a global operations position for motor connectivity products within TE Connectivity, where integrating an acquisition is one of the top priorities. Against the backdrop of significantly growing markets, I now strive to strengthen the organization and help it achieve world-class operations targets as far as customer satisfaction, innovation and its global footprint are concerned.

What do you consider a “great luxury”?

When my family and I are healthy.

What was the last book you really enjoyed?

Eat & Run—a book in which Scott Jurek tells the story of how he developed from an endurance athlete into a vegan world-class ultramarathon runner. It is a phenomenal read and impressively shows how important mental strength is in the context of coping with extreme challenges.

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership? Has it been influenced by a leadership role model?

“Inclusive”—I involve people in the process of translating goals into outcomes and strive for an organization that always keeps developing in terms of its structures and the skills of its employees. This also includes giving executives at lower echelons the freedom to make their own decisions. As far as the operational side of things is concerned, my role model is Taiichi Ohno, the creator of the Toyota production system; when it comes to corporate strategy, I am eager to follow the example of Steve Jobs.

How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?

My family gives me a lot of energy, and running provides me with an opportunity to get the physical exercise I need.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

I would not want to change places with anyone because one day is too short a period, and I prefer to concentrate on the challenges mentioned above.

Why would you recommend the Global Executive MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?

For one thing, it is a highly focused program that teaches you everything you need to know in a very practical manner (not least thanks to the field trips). For another, the participants are seasoned professionals who have plenty of leadership experience, which adds significantly to the quality of the discussions in class. And not to forget, of course, the many useful contacts you make in this setting.


My motto in life:
Do not look for mistakes, look for solutions.
I can laugh about:
A good joke.
Mistakes I am most likely willing to forgive:

Those that have been communicated in a pro-active and honest manner.

I would spend my last money on:
My family.
In 20 years, I will:
Spend my time traveling, running and reading books.

Read more interesting Career Stories of our students and alumni here.

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