Five minutes with Rafael Koenig

In the PACE hot seat is Rafael Koenig, Chairman, Profibus and Profinet Australia and Manager, Pentair Actuators & Control.

How did you come to be in this industry?
I started as an apprentice radio and television mechanic and then studied electrical engineering. About 20 years ago I was doing customer presentations in the Asia Pacific region with a company who opened a subsidiary in Australia.

What started with a three year stint as a Product Manager has expanded into more than 17 years in the industry. The reason I'm still here is either I like it so much or, as some people say, they wouldn't let me back into Germany. 

What's the best business idea you have that you will never use?
Three years after coming over from Germany with my wife, we had our daughter.

With no family support network here I came up with the idea of opening a business called "Rent-a-Granny" as I thought the influence for kids from people with life experience is probably better than having teenage baby sitters. I recently heard that somebody else has now come up with this idea and wish I had gone through with it.

What do you see are the biggest opportunities for our industry?
A lot of the technology expertise that is currently in the workforce at customer level is with the baby boomers and many of them are about to go into their well-deserved retirement in the next three to five years.

In addition we see strong trends related to outsourcing of automation expertise at end user and even EPC level. This is a great opportunity for suppliers and specialist engineering firms who are prepared to invest in the knowledge of their people to adapt their business model to include specialist automation services as a core value stream.

What's the greatest challenge in your job?
For me the greatest challenge is keeping up with the rapid technological changes that are currently happening in automation. In our industry, very few automation manufacturers invest locally in R&D in Australia.

Europe or North America are a bit closer to the pulse as most market leaders originate from there. To stay in touch, I make a conscious effort to network at the source and am involved with global networks such as Profibus and Profinet International.

If you could be anything else, what would it be and why?
I am pretty happy with what I am doing. Outside work I have a passion for golf, but if I was to turn pro, I would starve. Also there doesn't appear to be a market niche for German comedians in Australia.

One of the things I enjoyed most in my life was being a student. So if there was ever the job of being a professional student…

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