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issue: August 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine

People
Dr. Uwe H. Böhlke of SCHOTT


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In 2003, Dr. Uwe H. Böhlke was named executive vice president at Schott in Mainz, Germany, a global business with 24 factories all over the world.

In his new position, Dr. Böhlke oversees Schott’s Strategic Business Unit Home Tech, where he is responsible for the business of glass ceramics, processed flat glass, and food display solutions. When asked for the key factors that lead to his successful career, Dr. Böhlke responded, “having a good team, maintaining a team spirit, and, consequently, following some basic rules.”

According to Dr. Böhlke, his future didn’t always look so promising. In school, he was a self-described “lazy student” with average achievements at best. “Hardly anyone expected me to manage the studies of mechanical engineering,” he says. Now known as a workaholic, he remembers when things changed.

While studying mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Aachen (RWTH) in Germany from 1985 to 1990, Dr. Böhlke made three friends. They got together and motivated each other, and after a few semesters, they went from being average students to the fastest and the best out of 1,200 students. “Our team approach combined with some internal competition was our key driver,” Dr Böhlke admits.

Just 12 months later, he received his second master’s degree in Business Administration and in 1994, Dr. Böhlke received a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, graduating with distinction. Parallel, from 1990 to 1996, he worked as a scientist and engineer at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a large German research company.

In 1996, Dr. Böhlke started working at Schott. For the first 6 months, he headed the engineering department for special machines. He then became responsible for the entire Machines and Tools Service Unit. In 1998, he was given the new responsibility of managing Schott’s Corporate Research and Technology department.

While working in this new position, Dr. Böhlke was challenged by scientists to take a new approach to his line of work. “It’s not always necessary to know exactly how something works,” he explains. “It’s important that it works and that you know people who can explain the fundamentals.” This, he says, is a basic rule all engineering professionals should follow.

In 2001, Dr. Böhlke took on the additional assignment of heading Schott’s department of Intellectual Properties, until last autumn, when he was named the executive vice president of Schott’s Home Tech division.

As a manager, Dr. Böhlke’s top priorities are having an open-door policy and treating others with respect. By giving people freedom, he helps to avoid becoming the “bottleneck of the system.” He also values reliability, which he says is the basis of other issues that are important to him like trust, loyalty, keeping promises, and punctuality.

Dr. Böhlke’s hobbies are jogging, golf, and taking trips to Toscana, Italy. There, he loves to spend as much time as possible with his wife, who he married last year. This month, they are expecting the birth of their first child, another responsibility he plans to approach with teamwork.

 

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