The Worlds Times: Explain your background and your company’s in detail.
Friedrich Weninger: Working a fourth of century with the leading cellulose fibre producer Lenzing and serving the textile and nonwovens industry. My last mandate of Lenzing Group was COO Chief Operating Officer. After that I became MD Managing Director of Dornbirn GFC Global Fiber Congress and joined several supervisory board mandates in the textile and fibre industry. Dornbirn GFC Global Fiber Congress is a world unique innovation congress where the whole industry is represented to generate new innovations – it started already in 1961 and became a real global brand.
The Worlds Times: What are your goals?
Friedrich Weninger: The goal is to create sustainable innovations in the fibre industry – one key topic is sustainability and circular economy. Cooperation is a necessity in this context and Dornbirn GFC is acting as a network generator.
The Worlds Times: What do you feel is the biggest strength of “DORNBIRN GFC” right now?
Friedrich Weninger: we are globally acting and our core business is turning innovations from Research&Development into life – our participants and lecturers are from all over the world. We are covering the whole supply chain and have a very holistic approach.
The Worlds Times: What was the path you took to get to where you are today?
Friedrich Weninger: To connect the textile supply chain from fibres to the final user and this in a global dimension – our visitors are from 34 countries and from the fibre, textile industry up to the brands and retailers.
The Worlds Times: Why did you start “DORNBIRN GFC”?
Friedrich Weninger: Very foresighted managers from Lenzing and the European fibers association CIRFS started the congress already 62 years ago. They were clear already at that time that companies main competitive edge will be on innovation and not just on low input factors like labor cost, energy and other.
The Worlds Times: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?
Friedrich Weninger: of course it was the pandemic which changed pretty much the way how to communicate innovations. Online conferences were all of a sudden a given in this business. We had to change drastically our way forward and were actively combining both systems( live and online) but as it turns out it is a very efficient way. Also how to transport information via social media was very challenging but we know somehow to handle it meantime.
The Worlds Times: Give us one word that describes you the best.
Friedrich Weninger: Dedicated
The Worlds Times: What do you value the most about “DORNBIRN GFC” vision?
Friedrich Weninger: Bringing the worlds textile industry together and creating innovations which make the world better. The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries and we need better processes to be environmentally friendly but also there is a big need of higher performances of products in order to meet the requirements from customers but not to forget there is a big need for better working conditions in the industry and this needs also a lot of innovations.
The Worlds Times: What are the strategies of “DORNBIRN GFC” and how do you stand unique from others?
Friedrich Weninger: Well, we are dedicated to innovations from the Research&Development(R&D) and there we are working together with more than 50 universities and R&D centers and with the companies R&D departments and in we started also to connect the startups in this field from 2019 onwards. Our big advantage is, that we are not connected to any university or whatsoever, we are an independent platform where everyone can join in – our aim is to find the best innovations!
The Worlds Times: What are the key values which helped you to overcome the challenges in your path? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?
Friedrich Weninger: Be open and flexible, try to cooperate and make things happen. Never be risk adverse better judge the risks in the right way-there is always a way forward. During the financial crisis in 2008/2009 the demand was coming to a standstill and everybody thought “the world is not turning anymore”. The industry stopped production, shutting down plants, laying off people – this was the mainstream, but we in Lenzing decided to go against the mainstream and ran the plants on full capacity and of course had also huge stocks which hurted our working capital enormously. But when the business turned on again we were much better off than anyone else and saved huge money for the company.
The Worlds Times: How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Friedrich Weninger: we will cooperate much more on a global scale and set up some satellites of our congress in other parts of the world as we did already with the congress in Korea which is a huge success. With cooperation’s, we can increase our reach to the global audience.
The Worlds Times: What benefits are clients getting from “DORNBIRN GFC” in this competitive world?
Friedrich Weninger: they get the ideas of latest innovations and they can gain a lot from all the networking opportunities we offer
The Worlds Times: Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?
Friedrich Weninger: The CEO of the biggest global player in the fibre industry said in his testimonial rightly: “Come to Dornbirn GFC Congress, it is the best place to learn!”
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