Strategy Execution Programme:
“What I learned at INSEAD are things that I still practice in my daily working life.”
CEO and Co-Owner of Fischer Spindle Group, AG, Dr. Tobias Moser came to INSEAD for a sense-check. He took away a road map and the resources to build resilience in the pandemic era.
When you have a real sense of vision and the creative thinking to keep on pushing boundaries, success is not something that is ever static. Sure you can occupy a leadership position and consolidated market share in your field, but the desire to grow, to branch into new markets, to diversify and to rise to new challenges – all of this is the hallmark of a truly visionary organisation and the driver of continuous forward momentum. But it takes strong leadership, a commitment to renew your understanding, refresh your competencies and to constantly challenge your thinking and your perspectives.
So says Tobias Moser, CEO and Co-Owner of multinational Fischer Spindle Group, AG. Fischer and its subsidiaries are market leaders in rotation technology and machine tools. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company has enjoyed consolidated, technology-driven growth over the years, that has seen it set up operations in the US, China, Taiwan, Russia and Germany. As the organisation has grown and developed, and as it has begun to explore new business spaces, there has been a palpable need to “sense-check” the viability of the strategy that Tobias and his team are developing to exploit them, he says.
This is the need that brought him to INSEAD in 2018 to attend the INSEAD Strategy Execution Programme, which happened to be one of the three programme he undertook to complete his INSEAD Certificate in Global Management.
“We were looking to set up a new hydrogen-based fuel cell business within the company in 2018, and at the same time, I was transitioning from my role as COO with Fischer Spindle, to the position of CEO. This felt like the perfect time to do a few things: to stress-test the strategy that we were developing for our new business; and simultaneously to engage external perspectives around the day-to-day questions and challenges my organisation is experiencing as growing, global business.”
INSEAD offered the international dimension and the diversity that Dr. Tobias Moser needed; that and a grounded, practical approach to business – enriched by real-world research – that he was also looking for.
“Going into the Strategy Execution Programme, I had pretty high expectations of the calibre of the teaching, workshops, and the learnings I would have. But from the word go, everything exceeded those expectations. The way this programme was organised with three on-campus courses at key points over the year, brought us together as a cohort and built solid relationships fast.”
These relationships with hugely diverse peers were absolutely critical, he says, in terms of challenging his business case – the new strategy for new business, that Tobias brought with him into the programme. Indeed, so powerful were these ties and bonds, that they have endured beyond the learning experience.
“Working with my peers and in group coaching sessions was incredibly eye-opening. I learned a lot about myself and our business. And we still keep contact within my learning group which engenders more learning in years after the programme. It’s just astounding how the combination of teaching and open discussions tears open the wounds, so to speak, so you can address them better.”
In concrete terms, the Strategy Execution Programme also gave him the opportunity to put his thinking around the organisation’s new venture to the test – robustly so, he says.
“I came into the programme to expose our new fuel cell business strategy to the full scrutiny of faculty and peers. What I got from it was enormous in terms of unearthing hidden barriers within my thinking and in terms of the execution tools we were building to launch our new business. This was invaluable, though so too was the external affirmation that we had a viable idea here – one that could be successfully executed in the global market.”
So powerful was this experience, that Tobias credits INSEAD and his peers with helping him accelerate the decision-making and the successful strategy execution that has led to the creation of Fischer Fuel Cell Compressor AG in 2020 – a new company of which he is now also CEO and Chairman.
“What the programme really taught me, what has really been an essential part of our success in rolling out our new business, is that strategy alignment is important but it’s not the end of the story. And that execution doesn’t always move in a linear fashion. There are all kind of hidden barriers that you need to negotiate and develop the flexibility to navigate along the way. What I learned at INSEAD are things that I still practice in my daily working life, in this regard.”
Launching the new business in 2020 also meant managing the exigencies of the pandemic, and leading a new workforce prone to huge uncertainty. Dr. Tobias Moser also credits INSEAD’s Strategy Execution Programme with equipping him with a better understanding to lead “emotional capital” in volatile times.
“During the pandemic we quickly understood that resilience was going to be key in executing our strategy and again I have to thank INSEAD, my peers and the Strategy Execution Programme faculty not only for shining a light on the importance of prioritising people and emotional wellbeing, but also for providing continuous personal contact and ongoing support during these difficult times.”