Always Take the Biggest Challenge: New DES Germany MD’s Views on Creating and Maintaining a Culture of Innovation
By David Nakayama - Published July 12, 2020
Interview with Mr. Andreas Kostrzewa, Managing Director of Delta Energy Systems (DES) Germany Text by David Nakayama, DET Corp Comms Photographs by Mr. Andreas Kostrzewa *This interview was via email due to COVID-19 travel restrictions
Bangkok, Thailand, July 12, 2020-Delta’s mission to provide innovative, clean and energy-efficient solutions for a better tomorrow means our world-class engineering plays an outsized role in the success of our business. At the apex of Delta’s R&D network are the elite engineers and experts at Delta Energy Systems (DES) Germany, who expand Delta’s footprint among the world’s top-tier companies by developing the latest custom-designed products for our global OEM customers.
Despite COVID-19 travel restrictions, I was able to get some valuable insights via email from Mr. Andreas Kostrzewa, Managing Director of Delta Energy Systems (DES) Germany. He shared about his background and highlights of his career at Delta, R&D’s role in driving Delta’s success, challenges and opportunities ahead and how to create and maintain a culture of innovation.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and your career with Delta?
I hold a diploma in electrical engineering and was always interested in international communications. Before working at Delta, I worked for ABB and Ascom. My whole business life has been about power supplies. In the beginning, I was working in telecom power supplies with a clear focus, as always, on custom design solutions. As a sales engineer, I could combine my communication and sales talents with my engineering understanding. At the time of Delta’s acquisition of Ascom Energy Systems, I was responsible for Motorola as key account manager.
Later on, when I reported to Mr. Charles Chung, I took responsibility not only for the telecom accounts but also for our server and networking customers at DES that combined as the Server Networking & Telecom LOB. When Delta decided to make the big step to enter the automotive industry, Charles asked me to head the newly formed Automotive LOB that has meanwhile become APEBU.
From the start of this year, I jointly lead DES Germany as Managing Director together with Peter Ide and took over the DES operations head position from Mr. Charles Chung.
What is the recipe in DES’s success over the years, especially in securing many first-tier EV makers?
For me, business development can only succeed when engineering and sales operate in perfect teamwork. Our entry ticket to every new industry or new customer has always been the outstanding technical knowledge of our R&D teams. Our design capability allows us to develop products and solutions for our existing customers and the research capability gives our organization the chance to open up to new industries and new applications like EV. Our strong, fast and on-site R&D organization especially helps us during RFQ phases to win new projects and has been the key to become the market leader in power electronics.
What do you think makes an outstanding R&D engineer?
Technical know-how and ambition to find the solution to every problem are the key traits of a good engineer. Working well in a team, meeting the schedule, meeting the specification while reaching the cost target, makes an outstanding engineer.
We are lucky that we have multiple outstanding engineers in our teams and we can attract good engineers for generations now. The work environment that we can offer to our engineers, with challenging tasks and good teamwork throughout international locations, helps to develop even more outstanding R&D engineers.
Sales of our OEM products are only working successfully if R&D is taking the lead. That means the real selling argument is the engineering expertise and not the salesperson's expertise. That is necessary when doing custom design.
Can you give us some idea of the major processes or steps involved in the development of a new product?
Every development process starts with the product specification. Our strength is to take those specifications from our customers and turn out the best possible product to suit that specification. The main characteristics are the electrical, mechanical and communication (SW) data given in the specification but development schedule, quality and cost are of equal importance.
The first step is to derive the product specification together with the customer. This requires early involvement and makes in most cases the difference to our competitors. A thorough design and qualification process always consists of at least four design stages or phases: initial prototype phase, design verification (DV), process validation (PV) and finally mass production stage. During the whole process, the project manager is coordinating requirements between the customer and various Delta departments until the successful mass production launch.
What are the most exciting projects you worked on at Delta, and why?
There are multiple aspects that define how exciting a project can be. In the last couple of years, we managed to penetrate successfully in new markets and applications which are exciting by itself. For sure the first projects for leading global data center customers were exciting because it is great to know that most of us are using certain internet services every day and that these services are actually powered by Delta products.
In the last couple of years, we have entered into a completely new market like automotive. It is great to see EVs on the streets that are having Delta chargers on board. Dealing with those large automotive customers and fighting on a daily basis to fulfill their tough requirements in the project development is exciting and challenging at the same time. It makes us proud to develop technology for products that contribute to global climate protection like EVs.
Who are some of the most memorable people you have worked with at Delta, and why?
I have worked at Delta now since 2004 and have met many memorable people who I still meet every day. Of the people that made lasting impressions to me at Delta, for sure one who I would name first is Mr. James Ng. I met him at a meeting shortly after Delta acquired Ascom and the motivation and inspiration from that encounter gave me confidence and trust in Delta. His personal engagement and attitude to convince everyone at Ascom to build our joint future together was the seed to make the acquisition successful.
Of course, one person who made the most memorable impression to me is Mr. Charles Chung. Those who know him will not need much additional explanation as to why he leads my list of most memorable people. His way of communication internally, as well as externally, is incomparable. Throughout the years he taught me countless lessons and set an example of commitment and persistence.
What’s the biggest challenge you face succeeding someone as accomplished as Mr. Charles Chung?
Every era has different challenges. I certainly share the same target with Mr. Charles Chung to lead the team to sustaining growth. After him, I could take over a good organization that is well integrated in the global Delta group. Due to my technical background, I am certainly more involved in project details and consider myself very lucky to have many outstanding people support me. The teamwork spirit is very well established amongst our teams in Asia and Europe and this is one of the reasons why we can compete in the various markets that we are in.
How does Delta Germany stay ahead of the pack in the highly competitive European market?
Delta Germany has a long history of designing power electronics and well-established relationships with multiple European and US companies. Dr. Basile Margaritis has always driven the Delta Germany R&D team to work with multiple universities as well as engage in Delta’s multi-national research activities. This combination of the most advanced technology plus a well-disciplined and motivated engineering attitude has been the key to maintaining market leadership and to entering into new applications like data center or automotive power. The main driver for our innovation are the challenges and resulting opportunities from our customers.
What challenges and growth opportunities do you see ahead for DES Germany?
In this time of global crisis, it becomes clearly visible to everyone how important it is to engage in multiple markets and applications in order to have healthy growth and to avoid unhealthy dependencies. Our daily challenge is to maintain this healthy balance. We are strong in the data center and industrial and medical power businesses so constantly expanding our customer base will certainly be the key to keeping our momentum in these industries. On the other hand, it is important to expand our overall market continuously by exploring new directions like entering in the automotive market. The electrification in the automotive industry has just started and growth rates will be in the double-digit area for years to come.
In order to stay competitive and to grow further, we will proceed to take new design challenges to offer more efficient and denser power supplies for the next generations. We will enlarge our customer base in all industry areas and the constantly growing demand for more electrification in all the Delta business areas will allow us to find new market opportunities.
How do you create and maintain a culture of innovation in your teams?
We have a simple slogan: The project with the biggest technical challenge is just the right one for us. This underlines not only the motivation to develop something new and better in every product generation but it also describes the motivation to work with our customers on new applications. I am convinced that our engineers are self-motivated to find a solution to every problem they are facing. This spirit is appreciated by our customers and creates new opportunities for our partners and us.
Finally, is there anything you would like to share with your Delta colleagues around the world?
In this time of crisis, we learn to focus on the most essential and important values: Health and Family. But it also shows that we have to take care of each other. Wearing a mask is more about protecting others than ourselves. Because we cannot enjoy life if family and friends cannot enjoy life with us. Therefore I also appreciate these days because it creates a different awareness of ourselves.
We all can make the difference by being more selfless and care for each other. – Please stay safe.
About the Author (Editorial Team)
If content is king, there must be a kingmaker. And the universal theme in my favorite stories is our innate human desire for freedom. I have a master’s degree in Chinese education and experience spanning industries and countries. As the Comms guy at DET, I’m obsessed with the stories behind our products and people. Share your stories with me https://www.linkedin.com/in/yushi-david-nakayama/