CUSTOMER-CENTRIC INNOVATION ON TRACKS
Wabtec Corporation is a leading global provider of equipment, systems, digital solutions and value-added services for freight and transit rail. Drawing on nearly four centuries of collective experience across Wabtec, GE Transportation and Faiveley Transport, the company has unmatched digital expertise, technological innovation, and world-class manufacturing and services, enabling the digital-rail-and-transit ecosystems. Wabtec is focused on performance that drives progress, creating transportation solutions that move and improve the world. Along with its industry-leading portfolio of products and solutions for the rail and transit industries, Wabtec is a leader in mining, marine, and industrial solutions. Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Wabtec has approximately 27,000 employees in facilities throughout the world and revenues of 8.2 B$.
"Our business is by nature one where we need to balance long term vision with short term flexibility. Our customers expect our solutions to be in operations for many years, with the best quality support and maintenance throughout that time. Our DNA is materialised by a highly skilled electrical and mechanical engineering workforce that collaborates with its customers to provide them with the most effective and reliable solutions.
In the fast-moving environment which is ours globally, we also need to be smart at both anticipating future needs and solving current requirements. The services domain, where the lead time can be significantly shorter than for hardware systems, provide us with a great opportunity to be extremely agile, while not compromising our standards of safety and quality, and to go one step further with our customer, the operators.
When we decided to launch an initiative to foster the emergence of relevant customer solutions leveraging our Service portfolio, we were aware that were going to ask our engineers to change their approach to innovation and adopt a highly entrepreneurial mindset. We also wanted to take the opportunity to open up to other industries’ experiences and to methods we were not totally familiar with.
The challenge we posed SaMaTransformation was to give our select project teams a fast-track training on applied innovation while taking advantage of the cross-fertilization between business units and countries to come up with impactful innovations that would be delivered in a matter of months.
The approach that Patrick Giry-Deloison took was radical: he invited the team members to cast away their Wabtec badge and to adopt the mindset of start-uppers. In doing so, he enabled them to share a common level playing field in terms of what that behaviour really means: the need to dare take risks, the importance of putting the customer – rather than the technology – at the center of the debate, the sense of urgency when resources are scarce.
In the process, he shared with us a number of real-life cases related to innovations in different technology- and service-driven fields in other industries than ours. By putting them in perspective with our own activities and by making the connection from an operational standpoint, he accelerated the acculturation process. The team members visibly enjoyed this refreshing and challenging perspective. Patrick provided personalised support to the teams while helping them build and present their business cases to the management team in a professional and impactful manner, giving full visibility to their creativity and energy.
This tailor-made “business coaching” helped us uncover valuable projects and deepened the collaboration between our team members. It will have a sustained impact on the way we operate and make us focus ever more on solving customers’ needs in a timely, relevant and professional manner.”
Jérôme Spencer, Transit Services Group President – Wabtec