Christof Kölschbach on Great Leadership

Christof Kölschbach, CSO of the Jokey Group, husband, father of three adult daughters, and proud grandfather of one grandson, started his career at Jokey in 1991 as an employee in the sales force. After various stations and the development of the entire Eastern German and Eastern European sales, he joined the executive management nine years ago and has valuable experience to share when it comes to being an open-minded leader

by Rachel Johnson | Apr 27, 2023

“At the center of all our actions, outside and especially inside the whole company, respectful honesty is key for us. The license to operate does not come by chance.”

1. What are the most important drivers of business today?

In times of global crises and economic challenges, resilience and innovation have become the key characteristics of strong companies. At Jokey, we ensure this resilience through consistent sustainability along the entire value chain by investing in closed-loop systems and in the digitalization and networking of our 16 plants worldwide. For decades, this has been the basis for our position as an innovator and technology leader.

2. What are the biggest challenges?

As a packaging manufacturer, we must ensure that we have a license to operate in the future. We are aware of our responsibility and see plastics as part of the problem but also as an important part of the solution. We are consistently implementing our sustainability course at all Jokey production sites worldwide and are thus also giving important impulses in markets outside the EU. In addition, there are more and more legal restrictions for the packaging industry. Our theme here is to act instead of react: Already in 1990, for example, we produced a bucket from 100% recycled material, and this year we will publish our first GRI report. One of the biggest challenges for us is to achieve our self-imposed goal of balance sheet carbon neutrality by 2030.

3. Which innovations and tech trends do you find particularly exciting?

For us as a company, and also for me personally, the topic of digitalization is leading. But regarding the role of digitalization, it’s more about the intelligent use of dynamic big data: How to use an artificial intelligence tool to get the best match for all your existing systems. It is a topic of how I can best link digitalization, AI, and the data volumes. If I achieve the most optimal interface work, then I support all my departments in such a way that the company as a whole remains more flexible, more agile and, above all, more competitive.

4. What thought leader has inspired you?

Confucius – the route is the goal (and the route must be fun.)

5.  Why does the topic of the Circular Economy have to be on the agenda of every company?

We need to use resources more efficiently and reduce the consumption of finite raw materials in every industry. By reducing waste and emissions, the circular economy helps us to reconcile economic growth with environmental protection. Economically, it can already be used to make value chains more efficient and reduce costs by minimizing waste.

6. In one sentence, what is one topic we shouldn’t be discussing in five years?

The obligation of CO2 reduction from all of us.

7. What makes companies and leadership successful in the long term?

One should remain open-minded to all kinds of change and be open to setting out on the path. In addition, one should be adjusted to the spirit of timing of the current management. As a leader, I also have to question myself time and again and be able to be questioned, in the sense of also taking criticism – both from my employees and from politics and society, which must and may question the entire company that supports my leadership style. Therefore, at the center of all our actions, outside and especially inside the whole company, respectful honesty is key for us. The license to operate does not come by chance.