Leadership Transition: Yves Elsen Hands Over To Philippe Osch At HITEC Luxembourg

Philippe Osch will become the new CEO of HITECH Luxembourg while Yves Elsen will become Chairman of the Board of Directors of HITEC (Photo © HITEC Luxembourg)

Prior to his retirement Yves Elsen, the Managing Partner and CEO of HITEC Luxembourg, talks to Silicon Luxembourg about what he learned during these 20 years at the head of the technology company, and what he will transmit to his staff and to his successor Philippe Osch.

Yves Elsen, the Managing Partner and CEO of HITEC Luxembourg S.A., has decided to retire after 20 years of service. He is handing over the operational management to Philippe Osch, Senior Partner & COO, the company announced in a press release. Elsen will become Chairman of the Board of Directors of HITEC.

The 100%-owned Luxembourg company is specialized in high technology products and solutions in space and satellite systems, equipment testing and measuring, in traffic management and mission critical communication.

“The transformation is the result of a long-planned preparation between HITEC’s two co-owners,” the press release adds.

Engineer and entrepreneur with a degree from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH-Z), an INSEAD MBA and IDP-C, Yves Elsen joined the company in 2003 as Partner and Executive VC and became Managing Partner & CEO, in 2004. He previously worked for SES for more than 16 years.

He has also been member of the boards of Luxembourg and international companies including Villeroy and Boch and the Fonds National de la Recherche, Luxembourg. Today, he is chairperson of the board of governors of the University of Luxembourg.

In an exclusive interview with Silicon Luxembourg, the new Chairman of the Board talks about his lessons learned and the company achievements during these two decades, and how he organized the transmission of the company with the new CEO and his teams.

“I will ensure business continuity, in the form of a smooth handover, as in a relay race.”

Yves Elsen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HITEC

What is your assessment of these almost two decades at the head of HITEC Luxembourg?

HITEC has experienced a very good development during the last 19 years. The credit does not lie with me alone. It’s up to all the people and teams I’ve worked with. When I joined the company, we were 22 employees. There are 53 of us as I leave it.

HITEC has also had a very good run in its four businesses: we have expanded the range of our equipment for our customers (from 3 to 8 products, for example in the carbon black segment).

We have geographically extended our traffic management activities to the Greater Region, particularly in the French Grand Est. We have also grown our business in other areas, such as the municipal sector, smart mobility and services. This is where the music will play in the next five to ten years.

In our ground segment activities, we had only one customer in 2002: SES. Today, we serve about 20 customers in the commercial, scientific and government services sectors. Today HITEC produces multifunctional antennas for all types of medium and low orbit geostationary satellites. Nowadays, we have the in-house know how to offer clients a complete full ground station integration. This is a perfect example of the added value and know-how our company has developed over the last 20 years.

In the area of mission-critical services, we launched emergency.lu 10-12 years ago. It is a mobile, satellite-based, telecommunications platform, created to re-establish communication (internet, phone) after a disaster, to support the coordination efforts of humanitarian organizations in the field and to contribute to saving lives during humanitarian emergencies.

It is a public-private partnership between the Luxembourg Government and three Luxembourg companies (SES Networks, HITEC Luxembourg and Luxembourg Air Ambulance). emergency.lu intervened during the earthquake in Turkey last 28 February.

The common denominator of all these activities is our specialization in measurement: measurement of the physical properties of materials (carbon black, etc.); measurement of satellite positioning and operation in orbit; measurement of traffic flows; and observation of natural disasters and earthquakes.

All these achievements bring enrichment to our employees, who can acquire, expand and apply many different skills in such varied fields, which brings very high quality and performance to our products.

What have you learned during all these years at the helm of HITEC?

The main lessons I draw are trust: knowing how to trust the people and young people you work with. I also learned how important it is to surround yourself with people smarter and more talented than you. Trust and delegation of responsibilities are two good recipes, which allow you and your company to move forward and that I have tried to apply during these 2 decades at the head of HITEC.

“This transmission is therefore a guarantee for the continuity of HITEC by the younger generation.”

Yves Elsen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of HITEC

What corporate culture do you transmit to your employees and your successor?

A culture of transparency and communication. A culture of exchange and explanation based on a bottom-up strategy.

Bottom-up also means considering the realities on the ground. Five times a year, every two months, we present new and current projects, planned recruitment, etc. to all the staff of the company.

It is for me a way to inform and empower our teams with confidence. Informed employees, who know where their company stands in its current and future developments, and where they stand, generally work better and more rigorously.

I also introduced the trial-and-error principle: people shall be able to make mistakes, and to learn from these.

I also set up an anticipation program, which defines a plan B with steps in case of problems of technology, of resources, or slippages that have been underestimated. In this case, you have to stay calm, implement calculated risk-taking, and even keep humor sometimes, an approach towards risk, which is very important to me.

Technology is another important issue for HITEC: nothing changes faster than technology. Technological intelligence must remain permanent and systematic. This is important for our company and our teams.

How do you see your new functions as Chairman of the Board of Directors?

Rather like a professional sports coach. I will ensure business continuity, in the form of a smooth handover, as in a relay race.

How did you prepare for this transmission?

With patience and observation. I started this process about fifteen years ago, during which I was able to observe Philippe Osch, evaluate his professional and personal qualities.

I was also able to measure his entrepreneurial DNA, through his reflexes, actions and work.

The transmission happened quite naturally. When we took over this company together, to become co-shareholders, I had always told him that at the age of 65, I would like to retire to devote a little more time to my family, my activities and other hobbies, while continuing to put my know-how at the service of the company.

We both are two like-minded leaders and entrepreneurs who strived to set an example for remarkable governance over the last 10 years. Throughout this period, Philippe became CTO, COO and held all the necessary functions to be ready to take over the managerial responsibility  of the company.

This transmission is therefore a guarantee for the continuity of HITEC by the younger generation, a logical step and expected outcome of the trustful cooperation between Philippe and me. Moreover, our teams were also able to get acquainted with him and his personality as future CEO.

People often don’t plan their retirement until three to six months before they leave. But this needs preparation well in advance. Therefore, I think that we must give ourselves time to prepare for the 25 to 30 years that will follow retirement from professional life.

This period of transmission was therefore for me a very good opportunity, a very good preparatory exercise. But as you know, an entrepreneur really never stops!

Related Posts