TRANSFORMING TO TRANSCEND
ANDREAS AEPLI Country Manager – Bühler Pakistan
Andreas Aepli is the Country Manager for Swiss multinational Bühler Group in Lahore as well as a Director for the Swiss Business Council in Karachi. He holds a B.A. from the University of St. Gallen and an MBA from INSEAD and has been working for Bühler since 2008. After several management positions in Switzerland, Iran and Turkey
he has been appointed to his current role two years ago. He loves a good Chicken Handi and in his free time enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of Lahore’s walled city or breathing the fresh mountain air of northern Pakistan
EVOLVE: Please share something about yourself, a brief overview of your professional journey?
Andreas Aepli: I grew up in an idyllic small town in Switzerland but soon discovered my interest in foreign countries, cultures and peoples. After studying Business Administration in Switzerland and China, I joined the Bühler Group first as Group Internal Auditor. Following some commercial leadership positions in various countries, lastly as a Head of Finance & Commercial in Middle East & Africa, I took up the challenge to establish our Sales & Service Centre in Pakistan in 2015.
EVOLVE: Tell our readers about Bühler’s
products and services, especially its achievements
and future plans in Pakistan?
Andreas Aepli: Every day, billions of people come into contact with Bühler technologies to cover their basic needs for foods and mobility. We are the global technology leader in processing equipment for food such as wheat, maize, rice, cereals, noodles, chocolate and animal feed. We also provide high-tech equipment for advanced materials like inks, paints, die-cast aluminum and thin-film coatings used in the automotive, glass and optical industry. To keep our advantage, we invest about 5% of our sales into Research & Development. Here in Pakistan, especially since establishing our local sales force and service station, we can see a clear shift to higher quality requirements in all industries. As people put more emphasis on issues like food safety, production efficiency and energy consumption, our strengths become more relevant – this has helped us achieve breakthroughs in our key markets here. For example, in the last two years we have constructed several new state-of-the art plants for wheat,rice and animal feed milling.
EVOLVE: How do you opine about the contribution of Bühler in terms of successfully introducing and enhancing the quality and standard of industrial process technologies and solutions in Pakistan?
Andreas Aepli: Being present in over 140 countries has taught us that in order to be successful, you need to first understand the local taste and practices – it’s all about learning from each other. For instance, we developed an entirely new process to produce Whole Wheat Atta safely and hygienically, but with the familiar taste people here prefer. Most customers here have to operate with very limited resources, so we had to adjust our solutions for maximum cost-efficiency. Thus, here especially we need to observe and adapt to local needs.
EVOLVE: Kindly enlighten our readers about Bühler’s claim that “we contribute significantly to feeding the world’s population, setting the focus on food security and safety”?
Andreas Aepli: This mission is really key to my heart and provides all of us with immense motivation. We estimate that our customers together feed about 5 billion people –an enormous responsibility. Looking into the future, we know that by 2050 about 9 billion people will live on this planet, with dwindling resources. So together with our customers and our partners from science and the public sector we need to ensure that all of them have access to safe and affordable nutrition. About 30% of our food is wasted either on the fields or during the processes of harvesting,
preservation and distribution, so we are developing processes to reduce this significantly. Secondly, a more efficient production at lower energy consumption will mean a higher return for our clients, which in turn encourages them
to provide more food on people’s tables, at lower prices. Thirdly, with the advent of more diseases, microtoxins and antibacterial resistance we are investing heavily in optimizing the safety and hygiene of food production. Finally, we are also exploring new alternative sources of protein, such as pulses, algae and insects.
EVOLVE: Question: Pakistan is at its best in producing world’s finest rice. Like Vietnam, is there any probability of setting up a factory, providing high-quality rice processing solutions in Pakistan?
Andreas Aepli: Undoubtedly, Pakistan is producing some of the world’s finest rice and I am privileged to be a partner to most large rice processors here. The rice market suffered from a downturn in the past 2-3 years but we are
seeing positive signs that it is growing again. Wherever our market is large enough to make a local machine factory viable, we seriously consider these kind of investments.
We are proud of our engineering excellence,
our products are the most technologically advanced in
the market. We offer such a wide portfolio of products,
that can provide our clients with integrated, complete
solutions across the entire value chain
EVOLVE: At the 10th European PhD Work-shop on Food Engineering and Technology, Bühler aimed to provide a platform to bring together the best young European researchers in the field of Food Engineering. Do you think that any such initiative can be commenced in Pakistan?
Andreas Aepli:First of all, let me say that I have immense respect for all the research institutions here as they are producing quality work with limited resources. Pakistan is home to many brilliant minds and we are lucky enough that some of them are working with us. The above workshop is only one example of the many initiatives we have taken to connect our practical solutions with the latest development in science, and we are always looking for new and creative ideas. I strongly encourage any institute or individual research to contact us to see how we can collaborate.
EVOLVE: You must be facing a number of business challenges. How do you address them?
Andreas Aepli: The biggest challenge we face is price sensitivity. As you are well aware, given the limited resources
many here are forced to make short-cuts, or “Jugar” – however, these can often create larger problems down the line. To address this challenge, we conduct workshops to educate our customers about the risks & good practices in their business. We also try to be flexible: if a client cannot afford a complete solution from us we offer a combination of local with imported key equipment, which often offers a significant performance increase at a lower cost.
EVOLVE: How do you manage a rapidly growing company while focusing on operations?
Andreas Aepli: Simply put, by trusting a talented team to work in the interest of the company. I see a lot of executives here in Pakistan who runs their company to the minutest detail – as a result, they are exhausted and overworked. In my opinion you can’t run a larger business efficiently all by yourself. For me, the key functions of a chief executive are hiring the right people, giving them certain amount of responsibility and freedom and pushing their limits.
EVOLVE: Please share any significant ingredient for achieving long term success?
Andreas Aepli: I think there are two main ingredients for success. Passion for what you do – which will come from the commitment and effort you put into whatever you do – and humility to accept that you can never know enough and you will need to keep learning and improving.
EVOLVE: What distinguishes your company from its competitors?
Andreas Aepli: Firstly, we are proud of our engineering excellence – our products are the most technologically advanced in the market. Secondly, since we offer such a wide portfolio of products, we can provide our clients with integrated, complete solutions across the entire value chain. Finally, our local presence: no other company has the same number of experts speaking the local language and knowing the local customs as well as the extensive network of service stations.
EVOLVE: Any message for the readers of EVOLVE magazine?
Andreas Aepli: Most importantly, I want to thank Pakistani people for their generosity in welcoming us here. If I had one final wish, I would hope that people here pay more attention to what they eat and from where it is coming from.