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Game Changers

2017 Game Changer: Philipp Schramm

“I’m a glass-half-full kind of person. The bad experiences provide the deepest insights," says Game Changer Philipp Schramm, who has brought his company back to life.
Philipp Schramm, Webasto Roof Systems Americas

Philipp Schramm, CFO, VP of HR & IT at Webasto Roof Systems Americas in Rochester Hills, Michigan

Philipp Schramm made it his mission to lead Webasto Roof Systems to a financial turnaround.

Schramm, 37, is an analytically driven realist and compassionate leader. As chief financial officer and vice president of human resources and IT, he motivates more than 2,000 employees but admits he wasn’t born a leader.

“I truly believe we are shaped by the environment we were raised in and live in every day. We learn from everyone who has impacted us,” Schramm said.

This mindset led him to take action when he heard Webasto was projecting a $63 million loss in 2014.

“I’m a glass half-full kind of person. The bad experiences provide the deepest insights. I help make change happen by trusting in the people around me,” said Schramm.

He knew that the link to organizational success is corporate culture and employee engagement. He used his leadership role and human resources responsibility to resuscitate Webasto’s failing corporate culture.

“I’d rather be part of a trailblazing team than of one without drive. If you’re not willing to develop yourself, you will stop improving, and if you stop improving, you will lose,” said Schramm. He implemented new internal communication strategies and practical tools guided in “corporate listening.” Schramm knows listening leads to action, but can only be facilitated in a trusting environment.

He utilized opportunities for employees to be heard in fairness committees and skip-level meetings — sessions where upper-level management bypasses midlevel management to talk directly to nonmanagerial employees.

“I’m deeply energized by caring for and fighting to help others shape their destinies in a positive way,” said Schramm. Listen Like a Leader communication training was implemented for all employees from the shop floor to the executive suite. “Hundreds of colleagues have taken the course and often describe it as life-changing in every aspect of their lives,” said Schramm.

Today, the once-ranked “worst ever seen” corporate culture by McKinsey & Co.’s Organizational Health Index has returned to profitability. “Schramm is the visionary behind our forward-looking corporate strategy which has fueled Webasto’s comeback and ignited a cultural shift,” said André Schoenekaes, president and chief executive officer of Webasto, in his recommendation letter.

“A strategy provides you with a plan to track progress. By establishing SMART goals, you can motivate the broader population of individuals,” said Schramm.

Now the culture has ranked in its second quartile in just under 15 months. These changes indicate a transformational workplace change.

“Schramm’s humility, humor, authenticity and consistency is now written in our DNA,” said Schoenekaes. “We’ve changed from a disengaged organization to a culture that is caring and engaged in a future together.”

[To read about our other 2017 Game Changers, click here.]