In Conversation with Mr Baudouin Sériès of ZEISS Vision Care MEA

بودوان سيريا من زايس

في حوار مع فيجن بلس

تواصل سيراج بولار، رئيس تحرير مجلة فيجن بلس، مع بودوان سيريا، المدير المسؤول عن زايس فيجن كير الشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا في دبي. وقد ناقشا مجموعة كبيرة من الموضوعات المتعلقة بصناعة البصريات في الشرق الأوسط وزايس – بداء من إرث الشركة إلى مهمتها، التحديات التي تواجهها وخططها المستقبلية.
وقد ألقى الضوء على جوانب متعددة سوف تمهد الطريق للعلامة خلال السنوات القادمة.
شاهد اللقاء بأكمله هنا:

Baudouin Sériès: Well it’s a very, very large question but I would like to enlarge it a little bit more and I would like to first give you maybe the mission of what ZEISS is or what drives us really at ZEISS: We, as pioneers in scientific optics, continue to challenge the limit of human imagination.
With our passion for excellence, we want to bring value to our customers and inspire the world in new ways so this is a fabulous mission statement for me as a ZEISS employee and believe it or not, it is what drives us every day in this regional office as well. Now if we put the focus a bit more on ZEISS Vision Care and the region as well, for us our aspiration is to be the market leader in the segment of branded lenses. So this is really what our vision is: we want to be the market leader in the segment of branded lenses and this is why we are here in this region to also make this happen around us.
But also very importantly, for me personally and therefore for the rest of the team, we want to be recognized as the main contributor to better eye care in the region. There are a lot of challenges in the region. There is a lot that we feel we can contribute to, not only feel, but we feel responsible for, so that is something that is very, very important for us. Yes, there is a leadership aspect to achieve: to be the leader in the market of branded lenses but also have that strong responsibility in overall improving eye care services in the region.

Siraj Bolar: How many years have you been in this company?

Baudouin Sériès: Well, it has been now 11 years that I’ve been working for ZEISS. I started my career at ZEISS in Germany initially for four years where I got all this blue blood that is now in my veins, but in Dubai now since 2014.

Siraj Bolar: Yeah, I mean you gave a good answer/response for the challenges.

Baudouin Sériès: You asked me about the legacy I would like to leave behind me and I thank you for that question, it’s a very personal question. First of all, I would like ZEISS Vision Care, Middle East to be a larger dot on the map for ZEISS definitely but as I said initially in my first answer I would like to have significantly contributed to better optometry overall and optical services in the region, elevating standards, continuous training and education and giving this industry the focus it deserves in the region. You were last year putting up the first ZEISS VisionPlus EXPO show to really show the entire region that “Yes, there is a need for a stronger regional industry”, and I want to continue to contribute to that.  Second thing which is important for me, is to create long-lasting partnerships with the customers and these partnerships – Why are they so important? Well, because they should strengthen our partners first of all and our brand. A good illustration for that is the upcoming ZEISS Vision Centers that will happen in a few countries in the region very soon and these are really lighthouses for optical expertise so that’s something that we are very excited about. And the last thing which is important for me is that we open up new markets, especially today in Africa we are actively opening up new markets and what does this mean? Not only yes, more revenue but most importantly it means more people having access to eyecare which is very important for us.

Baudouin Sériès: All right, well definitely the middle east is apart, first from a cultural perspective we being a German company settled here in the middle east, it is already a challenge because if you look at people around us, you know middle east is a melting pot of cultures, right? Different nationalities from all around the world, which is a great asset so to say because it brings skills and capabilities from everywhere in the world. This is a great thing but this is sometimes a challenge, if for instance, I look at our customer base we have customers from very different parts of the world although they are operating their business here. So we also have that flexibility and that understanding of these cultures which is key in order to understand our customers, that is the first point that makes it unique. The second point for me which is very relevant is, you know we speak a lot about RDE’s -Rapidly Developing Economies – well we are the RDE in this region but for me the “rapidly” is a very interesting term in this sentence because if you look at the speed at which the leadership of these countries makes things happen, this is unique. We are not used to this in Europe or at least in Europe but I guess in a lot of other parts of the world when the leadership comes with great initiatives, execution happens very fast. I mean just look at the EXPO 2020, look at what they’ve managed to do in a time of crisis, of pandemic crisis, it’s been an amazing success and this was possible through very strong leadership that people follow so that is a very interesting way for me to look at these markets because things change very fast. There are a lot of countries where new initiatives are happening in order to modernize the economy to diversify, maybe from a more oil-related economy towards different sectors, so things move very fast and we as a result need to be very flexible to capture opportunities that can come out of this.

Now for ZEISS, well we’ve got, I would say two challenges the first one and that’s very operational but the first one is, we are not manufacturing lenses here in the region and at least in UAE and this is a big bit of a challenge because all our competitors are actually producing here but we have a global way of producing lenses and what does that mean? That means well if we want to keep very high standards we cannot produce everywhere. Now as a result consumers might be facing slightly longer delivery time for our products than some of our competitors and this is still I feel, today a challenge although consumers understand that well, for a ZEISS branded product they are willing to wait a little bit more but as I said, you know we live in a very fast and rapidly moving life and therefore people sometimes simply do not want to wait, so this is the first challenge. The other challenge we have is, you know ZEISS being a European and a German company we are very strict when it comes to regulatory affairs and regulations and because the region that we cover is very vast it’s very large and every country has its own regulations, it sometimes takes us quite some time to get new products and new innovation into those markets because the work that we need to do from a regulatory [perspective] is very intense but we stick to it and this is how we ensure that whatever products we bring to the markets are well compliant and that our customers and consumers can enjoy it without any problem.

Baudouin Sériès: Well, an exciting question because for us the last five years have been fabulous. We finished the last fiscal year, we closed our numbers with 35 per cent gross compared to pre-covid, which is a great number for the region obviously and that growth came from different aspects so first of all, we grew in all the markets so there’s not a single market where we did not grow, which is the first great thing. The second thing is we’ve managed in those times of crisis, to create very strong partnerships with key customers that understood the need of differentiation and that took the bets to invest. We’ve had record sales of instrument sales, although we thought during Covid, customers will be a bit reluctant to invest, they don’t know what is going to happen but it was really the opposite the opticians said, “Well, you know with Covid, traffic being less, competition being as intense, I need to differentiate and therefore I need to make investments in my practice to show to my consumers that, “They give us something different”, so this has also contributed significantly to the goals that we have had. One very important milestone we took three years ago, we decided to come directly to the UAE, what does that mean? Before we were dealing with distributors mostly and we said “You know, now that we’re here, that we’re solid, that we’re confident, we have a good team, let’s do it ourselves. Let’s be closer to our customers and after three years of running this UAE business, now we can proudly say we have about 20 per cent market share in three years, which is a really good result for us which we’re very proud of. So again, a very strong element of that growth but what I would like to say back to your question about crisis and opportunities, we’ve learned a lot during Covid, you know we’ve obviously had to adapt a way of working, that’s clear like everybody but what we’ve learned is that by staying closer to our customers, although we could not physically be there they could rely on us and during this Covid time we got way closer to our customers than what we did in the past. So this was a very, obviously, dramatic situation for the world but a very good learning for us and again which contributed to an interesting growth. So far we are happy.

Baudouin Sériès: Well, that is not an easy question because we are really in the middle of this crisis, the logistic elements or the logistic crisis that we seeing especially out of Asia is a very important one. Luckily for us as ZEISS, today we are not being dramatically impacted because as I was saying previously we have a global network of production but it is true that it is a real challenge if we look at not only the fact that there is a very high peak of cases in China and therefore isolations but borders being restricted with Hong Kong for instance, freight flights being fully packed, no passenger flights from Asia to very few passenger flights from Asia to Europe, so this is all contributing a lot to a very important crisis. Luckily at Zeiss, we have a special task force that looks at those crisis elements on a daily basis and the same way that they dealt with Covid, during which by the way not a single lens was not delivered to any of our customers, in the same way, that they looked at Covid they’re looking at this type of crisis to make sure that our customers all around the world get their products. But definitely, a big challenge knowing that for the industry as a whole, there’s a lot of production whether it is entire products or spare parts that are coming out of Asia, so this is something that should be looked at carefully when it comes to the war between Ukraine and Russia. Here again in the region, it’s a bit early to say but personally what I feel is the indirect result of that crisis being inflation mostly will have an impact on purchase power. We see it in Europe right, if you look at your utility bills in Europe they have gone through the roof because of that crisis and that results in lower purchase power so people have less money to go and buy their glasses so we are yet to see the impacts but they will certainly be there.

Baudouin Sériès: It’s another great question but here I feel I need to correct you because we are already a lens technology company. I think if you look at ZEISS in general, the definition, I mean the way we describe ZEISS is: an international, leading technology enterprise operating in the field of optics and optoelectronics so we are already there in the technology part. Yes, we manufacture lenses but we manufacture lenses that are possible today through technology and innovation that has come from science. To give you a few lists for you to understand what I mean: the first asymmetric lens, the first coating, the first free form lens, the first individual lens, the first company to have UV protection across its entire portfolio or dry vision antivirus coating and now yet to come, our ZEISS Clear View portfolio and ZEISS Photo Fusion X. These are all very important if not a breakthrough in technologies and innovations that shaped the markets of the optical lenses. So very proudly I can say we’re already there and this is also a very good example of what technology is for us, it’s not only about the lens but the instruments that we deliver to our customers that can enhance their business, enhance their consumer experience and we have here the Visufit 1000 which is able to create a full 3d avatar of your face and brings a lot of added value for opticians later on. So I think we’re already there but it’s also what makes ZEISS so strong and I think very importantly why maybe I should have started with this: Why are we so innovative? Well, I don’t know if you know that but Carl Zeiss is actually owned by the Carl Zeiss foundation right, so that means the ZEISS company is not listed on the stock exchange or is not privately held by some individuals and the foundation was created after Mr Carl Zeiss passed away and that foundation has a certain set of rules and one that is very important for me is that on an annual basis, the science group should reinvest at least 10 per cent of its group revenue into R&D to develop products that have a positive impact on mankind and that’s why since the very beginning of the ZEISS company, from the first microscope being produced until today there is that speed of innovation and we will not stop. We’re committing to deliver this innovation year after year and you will hear in a month’s time we will bring two very strong new lens innovations into the market so this will continue hopefully for long.

اضغط على مختلف الأختام الزمنية لمشاهدة الأسئلة الفريدة على يوتيوب:

00:28  في البداية، ما هي رؤية مجلس ادارة زايس لمنطقة الشرق الأوسط؟ وعلى المستوى الفردي، ماذا تود أن يكون إرثك كرئيس مجلس إدارة لزايس فيجن كير الشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا؟

04:45 في رأيك، ماذا يميز سوق الشرق الأوس عن باقي السوق العالمية؟ هل واجهت أي تحديات فريدة لزايس في هذه المنطقة؟

09:20 ما هو تقييمك لآخر 5 سنوات لزايس في هذه المنطقة؟ غالبا ما تعرف الأزمات بأنها تمثل فرصا أيضا. هل لديك أي تجربة مماثلة خلال فترة الجائحة؟

12:30  في وقت يبدو فيه أن الأمور تعود إلى طبيعتها بعد عامين، يشهد العالم تحديات جديدة مع إمكانية اندلاع حرب عالمية، وأيضا اضطراب سلسلة الإمداد من الصين. كيف تؤثر هذه الأوضاع على شركات صناعة العدسات البصرية؟

15:20 السنوات العشر الأخيرة شهدت تأثيرا أعلى للتكنولوجيا على صناعة العدسات البصرية. هل أكون محقا عندما أقول إن زايس سوف تكون قريبا شركة لتكنولوجيا العدسات بدلا من شركة لتصنيع العدسات؟

“We believe in VisionPlus EXPO”, says Baudouin Sériès of #ZEISS – the global lens technology and innovation leaders.

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