Vitalii Bulda, the CEO of Robert Bosch Ltd, the Vice President of Bosch Thermotechnik GmbH in the Baltic States and CIS (except Russia), a Plenipotentiary of the Bosch Group in Ukraine, spoke with LDaily about the situation in the engineering industry caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. An experienced manager is convinced that powerful businesses — including Robert Bosch Ltd — should significantly increase their social significance in difficult times. Mutual assistance, support, and charity are crucial for overcoming serious global challenges.
LDaily: How did the coronavirus affect the company’s work globally and in Ukraine?
V. Bulda: The Robert Bosch concern is an international company with its own production cycle worldwide. The pandemic affected our units in the PRC in the first quarter of 2020. The further negative impact was already integrated. China’s GDP fell by 10% in the first quarter, which reflected on local demand. In addition, the production capacity of Chinese components manufacturers significantly reduced, which affected the volume of production worldwide. Currently, the main issues are the global decline in demand and constraints to doing business introduced by governments.
Robert Bosch Ukraine ended March with overfulfilling the last-year plan and performance metrics. However, our turnover in April will be lower than planned.
90% of our team members work remotely, but 10% of employees need to maintain the company’s viability from the office. These are our storekeepers, service center employees, accountants, and coaches.
The automated order processing systems and online contacts with our partners empower us to optimally cooperate with our customers and provide them full support.
LDaily: Bosch is the world’s largest automotive component supplier. How can the coronavirus epidemic affect the global supply chain that significantly depends on the PRC?
V. Bulda: China’s manufacturing is already recovering. Its anticipated GDP growth in the second quarter is 10%, so China is almost out of the crisis.
The most critical issue for car parts manufacturers is the demand for cars, and this industry is not experiencing the best times.
LDaily: Bosch Healthcare Solutions (a subsidiary of Bosch) has developed rapid coronavirus tests. They are already available in Germany. Are you going to deliver these tests to Ukraine?
V. Bulda: Coronavirus express test systems are a revolutionary invention of Robert Bosch, once again confirming the company’s innovative spirit.
The global demand for these systems is very high. We are doing our best to start implementing them in Ukraine.
LDaily: What are the prospects for your company in the upcoming crisis?
V. Bulda: First of all, every crisis is a test of the company’s strength, and we are dealing with it. The most important and urgent task is enhancing digital marketing skills and adapting the company to new business environments, especially online.
We are actively looking for more opportunities, new business models, and are confident in the future. This is not the first crisis in 27 years of working in Ukraine. We are sure that there is always a sunny morning after night.
LDaily: How do you keep in touch with the team and keep employees motivated?
V. Bulda: The strength of the company is a professional, friendly, and united team. I was fortunate to be the CEO of the company where communication is not limited to discussing work matters from 9 AM to 6 PM. We stay in touch 24/7. We play sports together, do a plank, clean trash from promenades, build gazebos for nursing homes; we do a handful of other necessary things. With the start of quarantine, we realized that there was a difficult trial ahead and it would change our lives for a while. We adjusted workflows. However, we will overcome everything if we support each other and stay together!
Everyone in the company has been working in the “home office” mode and communicating online for over two months. Every week, we meet with all our colleagues on Skype, talk while having a cup of coffee, discuss various issues, share ideas and plans. There is a channel and a chat in the messenger for supporting internal communication. In this chat, employees exchange photos of their “home offices”, pets, and hobbies. In the morning, we do exercises together. Next, we do a plank in the afternoon and prepare dinner in the evening. During this time, we learned many interesting things about each other that we did not know during the years of working together.
Probably, after quarantine, we will leave home and see the new world. Still, we will be sure we were together at the times of social distancing, though online.
LDaily: Bosch is active in CSR (corporate social responsibility) sphere. Tell us more about the projects you are working on during the pandemic, please.
V. Bulda: Social projects are part of the company’s corporate culture. Every year, we complete about 11 projects. They help us find new friends, and caring for them is already an integral part of our lives. During the pandemic, we stay close and provide the necessary support to those who are at risk. We provide disinfection, protective clothing, masks, gloves, etc.
This year, our employees organized a charity online fair via Skype. There were thematic decorations and handmade postcards created by employees and their children, as well as the crafts by children of the Social Security Center in Pereyaslav (Kyiv region). The result of the fair was amazing: 30,000 UAH raised! We directed these funds to purchase remedies for the Pereyaslav Social Security Center, with about 430 wards, most of whom are at risk.
At the beginning of April, the company financed the repair of seven expert-class artificial ventilation apparatus for the intensive care unit of the NMSH OHMATDIT. In almost all critical conditions, children have problems with the respiratory system, and only expert-class apparatuses can temporarily replace the function of the lungs and save life. We are sincerely pleased to be involved in saving children’s lives and to give them hope for a happy future.
For Bosch Ukraine, helping friends and the entire society is not only part of the project but also proof that we are always near.
Good will win! Let’s stay healthy!