New Managing Director of Hess:

Dr Ernst Smolka

Since July 2017 Dr Ernst Smolka is
the new Managing Director of Hess.
Some 3 months after his appointment we asked him about his first experiences, his goals and about himself.

Mr Smolka, you have been Managing Director of Hess since 1st July 2017.
What is your first impression?

I may say that I’ve really been welcomed here with open arms. I have come across an absolutely trusting work climate and the employees’ commitment to the Company and their identification with it, is more than perceptible. The mood is clearly
optimistic – the people want to change something.

You are an absolute expert in the lighting industry. In your opinion, how does Hess set itself apart from the rest of the market?

I’ve been in the lighting industry for more than 20 years, that’s why the answer is easy for me. Hess is the expert company for formand design. What’s more, Hess was and is, to all intents and purposes, a trend-setter for new technologies. Hess is at the forefront, when it comes to “customising” & “multifunction” – that’s to say functions beyond the light itself.
To name a few examples, there are Features such as cameras, loudspeakers or WLAN. In these matters the company has already possessed the relevant know-how and also the relevant products and solutions for many years.

Which trends and developments are looming on the horizon today in the lighting sector?

A trend which still continues is the transition to LEDs. Many consider this topic to be passé and therefore old, but it is more current than ever – we are in the middle of a conversion to this technology and therefore it concerns the whole sector.
Another big topic is digitalisation, which is advancing very rapidly. An enormous expansion of the market is emerging here – which means considerable chances and great potential, especially for Hess.
The luminaires can be used as an “overground network” – an amazing opportunity for towns and communities. Camera systems, loudspeakers, hot spots for mobile devices, or measuring and collection systems for environmental data or management systems can also be integrated into the “lighting infrastructure” – and thereby help the town to evolve into a SMART CITY.
On the one hand to become generally more efficient and sustainable. On the other, tobe attractive for inhabitants, visitors and businesses.

Which priorities are you setting for the future development of Hess to further strengthen its position as a premium manufacturer operating on an international Basis?

Hess is premium, no question about that – premium in design, premium in material and feel, premium in regard of quality. Hess has already seized the topic “digitalisation” as described here already, with some products and therefore already has a good basis.
It is important to expand on this basis and to accelerate the innovative strength of Hess. Always connected to the company’s DNA and strengths – and those are and remain beyond light “form and design”.
We also want to grow – nationally as well as internationally. However, one thing here is important: While growing we must allow a sense of proportion to prevail. We want to display healthy growth.
In all our dealings we allow ourselves to be guided by a very important issue: Our customers. The satisfaction of our customers and the fulfilment of their wishes and requirements is our key premise.

Now just a few questions about yourself: How would you characterise yourself?

I enjoy occupying myself with new topics as well as creating new structures and launching initiatives, developing a vision and a strategy with a team, tapping into new markets and thus – together with a whole team – shaping the future. At the same time honesty, reliability, loyalty and fairness are very important values for me.

How do you reconcile family and career?

For me there is a pretty clear division. From Monday to Friday my focus is on the job, the weekend and holiday time belong to the family. So far my wife and both our children have fared very well with that.

What do you like doing most, to leave the working day behind you?

Sports! Tennis, running and cycling help me tremendously to cope with the stress and leave the working day behind me.

About Ernst Smolka:

Ernst Smolka (53) completed his studies in physics at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany and at Oregon State Universityin the USA and obtained his doctorate degree at the Light Technology Institute of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Karlsruhe. He brings with him extensive managerial expertise as well as many years of professional experience in the sector.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Ernst Smolka has held many executive positions, including technical director and director o fresearch and development, as well as Business management positions with responsibilities in sales, technical project development, light engineering and production.
Most recently, Ernst Smolka was responsible for the German activities of one of the largest businesses in the lighting industry worldwide. He is married and has two children.