Executive Experience

Hans Hess has a broad professional experience in general management of industrial companies, with the following specific competencies:
  1. international business management (specific emphasis on Europe, USA and Asia)
  2. innovation and technology management (specific emphasis on innovation of technical systems and high-tech hardware)
  3. management of transition from private to public ownership (including LBO and IPO experience)
  4. general management experience (on the level of top-management board as well as supervisory board)

This experience was gained in the following positions and companies during the past 25 years.

11/2011 - 9/2012

Reichle & De-Massari Holding AG


Chairman & Acting CEO

R&M is a leading provider of cabling solutions for office cabling, data center and Fiber-to-the-Home applications with focus on Europe and the Middle East. Hans Hess was acting as CEO between 11/2011 and 9/2012 to lead a management transition from the second generation family members to a new executive board, consisting of non-family members only. He handed over the executive responsibility to a new external CEO in 9/2012, but remained chairman the board thereafter. Peter and Martin Reichle remained owners and non-executive members of the board of directors of R&M Holding AG.

1/2010 – 12/2010

Comet Holding AG


Chairman & Acting CEO of the Comet Group

At that time the company was a worldwide leader of X-Ray based systems for non-destructive testing of industrial parts as well as of high-tech subsystems and components such as ceramic X-Ray Tubes and generators for non-destructive testing and security, e-beam technologies for sterilization as well as vacuum capacitors and generators for plasma exication (semiconductor, solar-cells and flat-panel displays). Comet is listed as a public company at the Swiss Stock Exchange SIX (www.comet.ch). Hans Hess was acting CEO of the Comet Group from 1/2010 until 12/2010 due to the separation from its former CEO. The company had been severely impacted by the worldwide economic recession which lead to a double-digit loss in 2009. During his 11 months tenure Hans Hess turned the company back into the profit zone, achieved more that 50% sales growth and initiated a new strategic plan with the objective to double the company sales in 4 years and achieve a 15% EBITDA margin. The share price grew by 33% during these 11 months.
9/2006 – 3/2007

Schaffner Holding AG


Acting CEO of the Schaffner Group

At that time the company was a worldwide leader in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), listed as a public company at the Swiss Stock Exchange SIX (www.schaffner.com). Hans Hess was acting CEO of the Schaffner Group between 9/2006 and 3/2007 due to the separation from its former CEO. During his tenure Hans Hess changed the strategic direction of the company by separating from the low margin systems division through a management buyout and by entering into a promising field of power quality for alternative energy production through an acquisition. He changed the company from a divisional to a function organization and formed a new management team. The share price grew by 50% during these 7 months.
4/1996 – 10/2005

Leica Geosystems AG


President & CEO of Leica Geosystems

Until the end of 2005 Leica Geosystems (www.leica-geosystems.com) was a Swiss public company listed at the Swiss Stock Exchange SWX. The company is a global leader for high-tech solutions (instruments and software) for the surveying and mapping industry worldwide. It performs all business functions from R&D, Production, Marketing and Sales on a global scale. In 2005 it had revenues of CHF 850mn (50% from Europe, 30% from USA and 20% from Asia), a 10% EBIT margin, a healthy balance sheet with 55% equity and a market capitalization of CHF 1.34bn. It employed 2500 qualified associates (35% in Switzerland, 15% in Europe, 30% in USA, 20% in Asia). By the end of 2005 the company was taken over by the Swedish Hexagon Group for CHF 1.52 bn. Hans Hess left the company at that time.

Main achievements:

  • 2004-2005 Growth and Leadership: Launched major product and market initiatives in 2004 that lead to a leadership position in the industry in 2005, CAGR 15% sales growth and 10% EBIT margin. Strong recovery of the share price attracted industrial investors.
  • 2002-2004 "FIT-together": Completed the "Fit-together" program to better integrate the acquired companies and get back onto a very fast and profitable growth path. The program consisted of: 1) a 15% cost reduction in 2002, 2) a divestment of non-strategic assets and a total refinancing of the debt in 2003, 3) an acceleration of R&D from 7% to 12% of sales to get back onto an attractive and profitable growth track after the recession in 2002.
  • 2001 Acquisitions: Made four strategic acquisitions (technology) in the US for CHF 200mn to explore new growth segments. Post 9-11 the company had to issue a profit warning due to slow US sales. Consequently the share price collapsed, triggering a number of actions to regain the trust of investors.
  • 2000 Initial Public Offering (IPO): Completed an very successful IPO at the Swiss Stock Exchange SWX on July 12th 2000 at a market capitalization of CHF 788mn on the back continued good sales growth (CAGR 12%) and significant improvements in EBITDA profitability (CAGR 23%) since 1996.
  • 1998 Leverage Buyout (LBO): Completed a leveraged buyout of a private equity company, Investcorp (90%), and management (10%) at an enterprise value of CHF 430mn on the back of fast and profitable growth prospects.
  • 1997 Carve-out and incorporation: Turned Leica's Surveying & Photogrammetry Division into an independent legal entity, Leica Geosystems AG, to prepare the divestment of the traditional family-owned business to ultimately become a public company. Outsourced entire parts production to Asia and to newly formed independent companies in Switzerland that were divested at a later stage.
  • 1996 Turnaround: Implemented major restructuring and reengineering of the merged Surveying & Optronics Division of Leica, leading from a loss to rapidly improved profitability in 1996 at sales of around CHF400m.
9/1993 – 3/1996

Leica AG


President of Leica Optronics Division

This position had full strategic and operational responsibility for the Optronics Division, one of four divisions (Microscopy, Surveying, Camera, Optronics) of Leica. The division had annual sales of CHF 150mn CHF and 500 employees. The division was involved in development, production and sales of opto-electronic products (lasers, compass, sensoric, software) for international defence and law enforcement markets and made efforts to convert a few technologies into civil market segments.

Main achievements:

  • This highly profitable division of Leica was confronted with a major collapse of the defence industry in Europe as a consequence of the fall of the "iron curtain" in Eastern Europe
  • Downsized business to have of its size at maintained profits.
  • Sold off several international defence business units and stabilized the Swiss defence business
  • Converted some defence-oriented technologies into new commercial market segments (Automotive, Traffic Control, Law Enforcement) at mixed success.
9/1989 – 8/1993

Leica AG


Vice President & General Manager of Business Unit "Medical & Stereo Microscopy"

This position had full operational and P&L responsibility for the "Medical & Stereo Microscopy" business with CHF 70mn sales and 250 employees. The business included full responsibility for marketing, product development, assembly, procurement, quality assurance and controlling.

Main achievements:

  • The Medical business was turned back to growth and achieved 38% organic growth in 3 years and more than 8% EBIT margin.
  • Major shift of >100'000 production hours from Switzerland to Singapore to significantly improve profitability of the Industrial business.
  • Major improvements in the area of time-to-market, simultaneous engineering, Just-in-Time and Kanban production concepts.
8/1983 – 1/1988

Huber & Suhner AG, Pfäffikon Switzerland, Department Manager of "Polyurethane Department"


The position had operational and P&L responsibility for the business unit "Polyurethane" with CHF 5mn sales and 50 employees.

Main achievements:

  • Changed the business from 5% to 60% international sales on the back of innovative new products.
5/1981 – 7/1983

Sulzer Brothers AG, Winterthur, Switzerland, Development Engineer


Hans Hess started his professional career as a research engineer and later a research project coordinator in the metallurgy laboratories at the central R&D Department of Sulzer Brothers AG in Winterthur, a large Swiss machine industry concern.

Main achievements: Gained experience in various technical fields of material science as well in the coordination of large R&D project in a big organization.