The CMO Files: Rainer Stiller, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Schneider Electric

Get inside the mind of the world's top marketing professionals. In 20 questions we find out what they love most about their job, what their biggest achievements are... and what keeps them awake at night. Read 'The CMO Files'...



  Name:  Rainer Stiller

  Organisation: Schneider Electric

  Job title: Senior Vice President, Global Marketing

  Location:  Munich, Germany





(1)       Where were you born and raised?


In a blue-collar district of Munich, called Milbertshofen.



(2)       What was your first job?  

Collecting trolleys from a giant supermarket parking lot in the summer months of 1982. My rather fanciful job title, Deputy Customer Service Logistics Coordinator, still makes me laugh.




(3)       What was the first product you got really excited about?

Now, that´s easy... a BMW M3, which we showcased at a 20 city road show. I was asked to manage this tour for BMW to kick-start their dealer network in East Germany - right after the Berlin Wall came down - a truly aspirational product coinciding with a unique time and experience of national "history in the making".


(4)       Who has been the biggest influence on your career?


Besides my parents who came as refugees to Germany, I had the privilege to work with and learn from outstanding leaders allowing me to develop my potential. Getting the opportunity to work at a F1000 HQ in the USA was certainly a major milestone.



(5)       What has been your greatest achievement?


One day I hope to say "raising my children to become who they want to be". Right now, staying true to my values throughout my career is something I am proud of.


(6)       What has been your biggest mistake?



I crashed a 100,000 Euro show car on the way to an East German car wash. Not only was I uninsured, but I was also too lazy to screw on the license plates. As a result I spent a night in a "DDR" prison where I had ample time to reflect about defining moments in life.


(7)       What is your greatest strength?

More and more I can trust my intuition.




(8)       What is your biggest weakness?

Impatience, for sure.



(9)       What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?   

Especially in a digitized world, to personally meet and listen to customers and partners is simply essential.




(10)    Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?

The customer knows the truth.

And before something makes me squirm, I try to laugh about it. Which works better now than 10 years ago.




(11)    What makes you stressed?

Bureaucracy beyond the necessary minimum.


(12)    What do you do to relax?


I really enjoy watching and talking about James Stewart movies with my family - the last one was "Mr Smith goes to Washington".



(13)    What is your favourite song?


"Common People". Originally by PULP, but even more powerful is the studio cover version of Joe Jackson and William Shatner (...yup exactly, Captain Kirk himself!)


(14)    Which book taught you most?



Whenever I travel to a country for the first time, I ask the local teams to recommend me a book that describes their culture the best, so I learned a lot from precious books like "India after Ghandi".

The most influential though, was a 1969 German edition of Drucker's "The Effective Executive". Timeless lessons, but now almost unreadable as it is not only covered with scribbled notes from my father, but also my own blue highlighters.


(15)    Do you have a team or sport that you follow?

Unfortunately yes...the second largest football club in Munich, called TSV 1860 or "The Lions". They have been a disaster for decades now. To save my children from being socially isolated at school, I am now officially also a fan of FC Bayern Munich, as for them "winning" is not just an abstract concept ;-)




(16)    Which country would you like to work in?

For ten exciting years I was working in the USA, France and Switzerland, and some friendships from this time are for life. On my wish list for the future are some Asian countries and UK or Ireland.



(17)    Which company do you think has the best marketing?


It might sound like a case of myopia when I mention the local hero BMW here, but while continuing to optimize traditional growth avenues, they are the only ones right now that make the public believe that electrical vehicles actually will succeed.


In the "Energy Efficiency" segment I obviously recommend to watch out for Schneider Electric in the coming decade, developing sustainable momentum to challenge established brands like GE, ABB and Siemens.


(18)    What do you love most about your job?

Changing customers´ attitudes and behaviours towards supporting visionary ideas.




(19)    What is your favourite book?

Right now I have just finished the provocative "Why Nations Fail", and I believe many people will watch the news in a different way after reading it. And, as often, one can draw parallels to the business world.



(20)    What keeps you awake at night?


Used to be my children, but as they are both older and at school now, I am finally able to enjoy a peaceful rest at night!


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