Dr. Hagen Radowski (MBA ’91) is the president and CEO of MHP Americas Inc., based in Atlanta, Georgia, and is also a partner with the MHP Group in Stuttgart, Germany. Both companies are subsidiaries of Porsche AG, the German sports car manufacturer, and focus on process and IT consulting in the automotive industry. Servicing markets in Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Romania and Asia, MHP’s international customers include Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Daimler and Bosch. While the company’s focus is on the automotive industry, it also transfers strategic innovations from that sector to other industries nationally and abroad.
Before joining MHP as a partner in 2012, Radowski co-founded two consulting companies: BERATA in 1986 and Infomotion in 2008. After graduating from Darden in 1991, he worked for Otis Elevator in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Paris and Berlin before rejoining BERATA in 1994.
Radowski received a doctor of economics from the University of Siegen, Germany, and a bachelor’s degree in business informatics from the Berufsakademie in Stuttgart.
What were your early years like?
I grew up in a normal family in Stuttgart with one sister. I did okay during kindergarten and early school but did nothing exceptional besides being a DJ at a local dance school. I only discovered my capabilities in the late years of high school with the help of my math teacher, who really ignited my thirst for knowledge and learning by bringing me behind my first personal computer ever at that time: a Commodore 64.
What were some early leadership lessons you learned?
I strongly believe in — and early on learned — two very basic management rules:
- Delegate! And if you delegate, always delegate both the task and the associated responsibilities, not just the task by remaining a control freak.
- Define jointly agreed on and measurable objectives, do not define which road to take. I-75 or I-85? It is not important, as long as the above objectives are reached. Only provide support if a member of your team gets stuck on a side or country road, or has an accident on one of the interstates.
How do you measure success?
To what degree were you able to achieve the goals you set for yourself, both in private and in your business life? And no success in business can compensate for failures in your private life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising a family with a wonderful wife and two great kids, and being a good father, husband, family member, boss and friend. Also, recognizing my capabilities early enough and consequently taking advantage of them.
What did you learn at Darden that you use on a regular basis?
It is about the big picture: Darden taught me to think holistically, to see all aspects concerned, supported by many tools and methods I was allowed to pick up during my Darden days. Even 25-plus years after graduation, I am still drawing on these learnings from Darden on a day-to-day basis. What a return on investment! I also learned diversity matters and different perspectives are very important as you make decisions or put together a team.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
A good friend once said to me: “A few people make things happen, some people watch things happen and most of the people wonder what happened. Make sure you are part of the first group.” I am trying to live up to this principle by actively shaping my life.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve taken away from being an entrepreneur?
The customer comes first: a company is worth nothing — no matter how good your product is — without a reliable customer base. And make sure you hire the right team from the beginning.
How do you see the automotive industry evolving in the future, particularly with respect to technology and innovation?
After almost 100 years, the automotive industry is in the biggest paradigm shift we have ever witnessed. It is disrupted by new players, a generational shift in attitudes toward mobility, digitization, electric mobility and a change away from product centricity to true customer centricity. While most of the established players are not too stupid to recognize what is going on and even develop great first ideas on how to respond, most of their organizations have completely lost the capability to respond quickly, flexibly and in a targeted way to the threats on hand due to an artificial and over-sophisticated network of rules, compliance and security concerns. This calls for new concepts of collaboration, innovation and restructuring.