He has adapted his name in the Middle Kingdom. Here, he’s called An Weijie. “Nobody here in Beijing knows me as Andrej,” says Andrej Jautze. The 38-year-old has been managing the Viessmann Sales company in China as General Manager since the beginning of 2019. “In terms of unit sales, China is the largest market in the world for the Viessmann Group.” In this vast country, many regions lack modern heating systems. “But with growing prosperity, the demand for comfort is also growing,” says Andrej.
And how the demand is growing! “Like in Europe, we are one of the top brands in China.” His 120-strong team consists of locals only, except for one employee, and his Sales staff are constantly traveling to customers by train and plane. “I speak Chinese fluently,” says Andrej. “Reading and writing Chinese is hard work. Each character is a way to express yourself more precisely and to show appreciation to the person you’re talking to.” Respect and appreciation are important to him in his daily encounters with others. “That’s why I have a strong relationship with my employees. We are a very solid team.”
In the beginning there was the acting
The working atmosphere in his team certainly differs from that in other Chinese companies. “In China, some companies are very strict with their employees,” Andrej explains. “There is sometimes a lot of pressure and stress, a lot of tension.” At Viessmann, other values are important. “Servant leadership,” says Andrej, quoting Co-CEO Max Viessmann. This means that the leadership is geared towards the interests of the led, as opposed to a dominant leadership style. “Our company wants to enable every employee to work independently, and the idea of ownership plays an important role in this,” says Andrej. “We don’t have a climate of fear, and we don’t just pass the pressure down.”
I felt the thirst for knowledge for something completely new.
Andrej actually wanted to study medicine. Born in East Berlin, he was already in front of the camera at the age of eight when he appeared on GDR television and made TV movies and cinema films as a child actor. At the age of twelve, he acted alongside Armin Mueller-Stahl in “Der Kinoerzähler” (The Movie Teller). He ended this early career at the age of 16. “It didn’t interest me anymore,” he remembers. He wanted to be a doctor instead. But then he was drawn to Asia, to the strangeness of the Far East. “I felt the thirst for knowledge for something completely new.”
A fascination with the Far East
As part of his studies, he turned his attentions to Confucianism – “a completely different way of placing oneself as an individual in the community.” Therefore, he studied Sinology and North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin – with a focus on Economics. In 2006, he went to China for the first time for two years, which further reinforced his fascination. He joined Viessmann in 2010 and worked in the Sales team of the Beijing branch until 2013. He then moved to the German headquarters for five years, where he was responsible for the Chinese market in international key account management and for various international strategy projects. He continued his education at the University of Applied Sciences of Central Hesse to earn an Executive MBA – and experienced first-hand the generation change at the top of the Group.
“Max Viessmann has a completely different way of communicating,” Andrej explains. “At least once a month, he is available to answer his employees’ questions – worldwide via our Vi2Go app.” “This transparency in communicating with employees,” Andrej admits, “has sparked even stronger identification and admiration in me.” After all, Max Viessmann is certainly open to critical questions, which employees can ask live during the event – even anonymously. “This can range from complaints about cafeteria food to concrete feedback when something in the workflow isn’t working.”
Opportunities for personal development
In the Chinese Sales company, Andrej says, “everyone in the team is on fire.” We work here with great speed, optimism, and diligence and are available around the clock,” What motivates him? “I’m glad that in my job I can also take responsibility for the climate,” he explains. “My goal is to make sure that the many Chinese families who are installing their first heating system get a good, energy-efficient, and sustainable system right away.”
I’m glad that in my job I can also take responsibility for the climate.
That is why he feels that he’s in good hands with his employer: “The great thing about Viessmann is that performance is recognized and rewarded. Not only with money, but above all with opportunities for personal development. That’s even more important.”