2021 CEO of the Year

12 CEO MONTHLY / 2021 CEO OF THE YEAR 8 CE M T L / ISSUE 2 2022 , Dec21292 Eyes On the Prize As one of the leading opticians in Germany, Pro Optik is dominating the market inmore ways than one. Not only can it provide an unrivalled service in terms of its broad knowledgebase and expertise, coupled with its excellent client care, but it is also led by one of the most inspirational men of our time. We speak to CEO, Micha Siebenhandl to hear more about the company, its overwhelming success, and his refreshing leadership style as he wins CEO of the Year 2021 – Frankfurt, Germany. Headquartered in Wendlingen, the Pro Optik group has more than 140 specialist shops throughout the country and, with more than 1,000 employees and many franchise partners, Pro Optik is the third largest optician in Germany. Relying on active customer proximity and competent advice, Pro Optik offers an honest and trustworthy service at eye level, which runs throughout the entire business model. It offers all the top brands in eyewear at great prices, with offers that are uniquely priced and uncomplicated in the industry. In addition, customers can rely on being looked after by real experts and fully trained opticians, who lovingly handcraft each pair of glasses individually according to the unique needs of the customer. The core team of the Pro Optik group is formed of 12 Head of Department experts who are closely coordinated in a matrix system and ensure across departments that the Pro Optik DNA is not only worked out, but also lived every day. At the helm, and overseeing all operations, is Chief Executive Officer, Micha Siebenhandl. “As CEO, I have personally committed myself to providing a first-class service and aligned the entire corporate strategy and my team of managers accordingly,” explains Micha, commenting on his dedicated staff base. “Not only do the technical skills play a role in this company, but also the personalities of each team member, which were decoded through various psychological selection processes and now form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.” Micha has a long history and background of success, with his first role as CEO being one that he was personally headhunted for. Micha was approached by people who were looking for a motivated, empathetic and previously proven successful executive, and he fit the bill perfectly. “It was there that I worked for the first time with a private equity company and worked there for more than 15 years as CEO,” he elaborates. “My mentor was the owner and founder of the company Al Berg, winner of the Blue Sky Award in New York, one of the greatest entrepreneurs I know. I learned a lot from him and I also benefited from it in my next jobs.” It’s clear to see that Micha has a refreshing, yet tactical, approach to steering his company forward and his ongoing business strategy is focused on growth through sustainability and the continued offering of first class service to all customers. Micha is of the opinion that first class products and first class service, coupled with a motivated team, can bring and maintain longterm success, and it appears that this formula is working very well so far. Pro Optik found itself in a rock-solid position during the Coronavirus pandemic having benefitted from the legal health regulations that allowed and enabled customers to continue shopping, with this being largely unhindered. Nevertheless, many customers were still reluctant to make a purchase. “Covid didn’t destroy the need for glasses, it just pushed it into the future. Pro Optik has already positioned itself to make optimal use of this backlog after the epidemic crisis situation has subsided and to offer customers exactly the purchase experience that they had to do without for a long time,” Micha shares. He sees a clear advantage in the appointment allocation implemented during the pandemic, in which his trained opticians could concentrate more on individual customer experiences, and the company has been able to provide its first class service better than ever before. “It was definitely the biggest challenge we have seen to date – having to steer the company through the Covid pandemic,” Micha continues. “However, we can now claim that we are one of the few companies to have successfully mastered the pandemic! I was able to learn crisis management and pandemic management right here.” Having recently been recognised as the CEO of the Year 2021 in Frankfurt, Germany, in the Eco Monthly Awards, Micha is keen to sing the praises of his dedicated employees and highlight the fact that the company owes its success to them. “No matter what awards we get, no matter how successful we are, it’s always the people behind it who make our success,” he states. “The best strategy and the largest investments and the most brilliant designers mean nothing if the people in the company don’t stand behind them and do their job with love. Without love for the job and the company, nothing will work. This is the only way for a company to be successful in the long term and sustainably. For this reason, it is particularly important for a manager to inspire and motivate his employees.” On the other hand, Micha is truly motivated by his staff and customers. He tells us, “I love working with people, giving and showing them a clear goal and guiding and motivating these people,” he enthuses. “They should keep and contribute their values, their know-how, their creativity and their personality, but work together on a jointly defined goal.” Moving forward, Micha now has big plans for the future of Pro Optik with a goal to not only expand the business but to spearhead digitisation in German retail by the year 2025. “We plan to provide the customer with the best possible support when choosing glasses with a unique