Interview with Dr. Jürgen Reinert, CEO at SMA

“As a company, we need to be as innovative and flexible as we want our employees to be”

A lack of skilled workers is presenting the economy with increasingly acute challenges. At SMA Solar Technology AG, HR issues are also high on the agenda. In this interview, Dr. Jürgen Reinert, Chairman of the Managing Board and Labor Director at SMA, talks about changing requirements in the modern business world, the importance of knowledge transfer and training, and the most promising levers for success in the war for talent.

Dr. Reinert, you’ve been working in the solar industry for many years – what has changed in terms of HR strategy challenges?

REINERT As is the case in most industries, the solar industry is dealing with a significantly wider array of issues than before. The energy transition poses major challenges for our industry and society as a whole: How do we want to go about producing clean electricity? How can we use it efficiently and sustainably? And how can we ensure that different sectors are effectively networked? Offering purely technical answers to these questions is no longer an option. To put it bluntly: Whereas a few years ago it was enough to recruit talented engineers, today we need a large number of skilled workers from a wide range of fields: software, marketing, sustainability, etc. 

What particular challenges are you currently facing in terms of specialist/staff availability?

REINERT At SMA, we’ve been transitioning for several years from being a company that manufactures products for electricity generation to a system and solutions provider. This means that we no longer just offer inverters for solar power systems but also energy management applications, charging solutions and much more besides. Of course, this complexity is also having an impact on our employees – both on those we already have, whose daily work routine is changing and developing dynamically, and on those we want to attract and who are now expected to bring a wide range of competencies with them. 

As a company with a clear purpose, I’ve no doubt we have an advantage here in the battle for the best of the best. But we also face tough competition from other companies –  especially in countries like the USA or Australia, where we don’t yet have such a high market profile.