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Interview with the team leaders Claus Köhnen and Tom Hug.

Claus Köhnen and Tom Hug talk about their daily work and their experiences as team leaders.

Evelyne Gänsli, specialist areas Commerce and Communications Systems, Command and Control and Reconnaissance Systems.

Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Monitoring Systems and Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep H FAKo in the Administrative Centre at Guisanplatz 1.
(Left to right) Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Monitoring Systems and Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep L FAKo.

What made you come to armasuisse when you did?

Claus Köhnen: That was quite a few years back (laughs). Before I switched to armasuisse I was in the private sector. After successfully completing further education studies as a graduate business economist HF and marketing planner, it was obvious that I had to pursue a new career. armasuisse offered an interesting and versatile spectrum of procurement areas and I was interested in also gaining experience in procurement as well as in project management.

What do you do as a team leader? What are your tasks?

Claus Köhnen: I actually have three “hats”. On the one hand, I am Dep H SA Commerce C+R. Here, I am in close contact with Serge Guignard and we share certain tasks and participations in committees. It is primarily about being aware of and up to date with the daily challenges in the specialist area. With Serge, I appreciate having a manager with so much experience who constantly tries to optimise the specialist area, supporting his staff fully and completely.

Secondly, I am team leader of the largest Commerce team FAC, which consists of ten employees together with myself. Due to the leadership span, I am satisfied and proud that each individual works very independently and involves me in business where necessary.

Thirdly, I supervise certain projects myself as project controller.

What is your everyday work as team leader like?

Claus Köhnen: Due to my three functions, as I described, every day is different due to changing events. I am a morning person and my working day starts at 6.15 a.m. in these current times of COVID-19.

Tom Hug: My working day is very varied. On the one hand, because I am active myself in the commercial project portfolio business to a large extent. On the other hand, as a team leader, I perform various management tasks and try to lead the team successfully with all its different characters. This includes supporting them in their concerns and having a sympathetic ear when problems need to be solved within the team or even on a private level.

What has been your biggest challenge on the path from staff member to your new role as team leader?

Claus Köhnen: When I took on the new management role in 2012, the biggest challenge for me was knowing that the staff would now perceive me differently. Back then, we didn’t have any teams. Instead, the head of the specialist area and I shared the leadership of Commerce. However, at some point, the leadership span was too big. We therefore introduced the team structure in 2019.

I have been able to greatly benefit from my experience as a member of staff and can therefore better understand the problems and challenges of my team.

Tom Hug: The biggest challenge for me was being perceived by the staff members – my colleagues – in a new light as their manager and being accepted by them. It was a balancing act between achieving common goals with the team and implementing my value systems as a team leader. Being myself and remaining authentic were important to me. I am accepted today, and I am very grateful to my team for that.

What is your personal goal as a team leader?

Claus Köhnen: As a team leader, I need to retain an overview and the steadily growing number of projects in our Commerce team Computer Systems is a real challenge. Here, it is important to master the field of tension between rapidly changing technology and the legal and financial framework conditions.

Tom Hug: I pursue various holistic goals: First of all, the team culture on which we work together is extremely important. Secondly, I and my team would like to be perceived and respected as a service provider by our partners. Thirdly, I see my role as a team leader in relieving the head of Commerce C+R, so that he can take the specialist area forward strategically. Fourthly, I would like to expand my personal horizon with the experience as a team leader as well as employee management.

What would you like to achieve with your team?

Claus Köhnen: I would like to support our stakeholder groups in the best possible manner with my team and make our contribution to the successful completion of the projects. I can count on my staff and they give their best every day.

What is particularly important for you in your team? What do you place value on?

Claus Köhnen: On the one hand, that my employees manage interesting projects and are well placed in terms of their work-life balance. On the other hand, the development planning of each individual is important to me. I expect self-organisation, independence, quality and adherence to deadlines from my team. Those are important elements for me. In return, they enjoy my complete trust and my support.

It is important for me to process all concerns of my staff promptly, so that they can continue to work as far as possible without delays.

Tom Hug: Trust, mutual appreciation and a collegial atmosphere in the team are very important to me. We communicate honestly, transparently and maintain an open culture of feedback, where even difficult topics are discussed and everybody can express their own opinion. I place great value on equal treatment, not least because the proportion of women in my team is high. I support my staff in their endeavours to further their education, so that they can move forward professionally as well as privately. This is also supported proactively by the employer and those who want can benefit from it.

If you had a free hand, what would you change in terms of optimisation?

Claus Köhnen: We are currently optimising various topics at armasuisse and there is a need to catch up in this respect. However, we still have too many individual systems and therefore also many system breaks. For each one of them, the quantity of different tools in which they need to be proficient is a constant challenge. This is where I would start.

How do you reconcile family and job (work-life balance)?

Claus Köhnen: My children are older now and it’s become easier (laughs). As a counterbalance to the job, I try to be out in nature often and with a dog, there are no excuses. As the father of two sons (17 and 14 years old), I try to keep my finger on the pulse here as well. My leisure time includes gaming with the younger son and playing football with the older one (my son and I are trainers at SV Lyss and coach a team together).

Tom Hug: With regard to the work-life balance, we have a generous employer, be it with regard to the working time model, flexibility or home workplace, and we have managers who support us. For me personally, exercise is very important and I spend a lot of time playing sport, which provides a balance to my everyday work. I regularly jog during my lunch break and take time in the evening for my family. In the summer, I train in a football team and am an active member of a tennis club. In the winter, you can find me with my family on the ski slopes whenever possible. I enjoy this and greatly appreciate it.

Planning replaces coincidence by error.

                                                                           - Albert Einstein

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

Claus Köhnen: I hope to be able to continue making a valuable contribution for armasuisse and thus for Switzerland over the coming years. Our work is important, very varied and interesting. It’s rather difficult for me to make a concrete statement. More or less on the basis of: Planning replaces coincidence by error (Albert Einstein).

Tom Hug: The role as team leader is an important step in my professional career and I would like to develop further. I can well imagine being increasingly active in strategic areas in the future and taking over certain management tasks. I really enjoy staff management with all its diversity and challenges, which is why I would like to take on even more staff responsibility in the future. In particular, I would like to mention the appeal of our employer armasuisse, who offers us employees a great many opportunities.

Brief profile Claus Köhnen

Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep H FAKo; Michael Hess, team leader of Commerce Command and Control Systems; Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Monitoring Systems and Andreas Arni, team leader of Commerce Communications Systems in the Administrative Centre at Guisanplatz 1 in Bern.
(Left to right) Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep H FAKo; Michael Hess, team leader of Commerce Command and Control Systems; Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Monitoring Systems; Andreas Arni, team leader of Commerce Communications Systems.

Claus Köhnen completed various studies (Marketing Planner with Swiss Federal Diploma, Swiss Certified Purchaser as well as Purchasing Manager), the last of which was an Executive Master of Business Administration EMBA at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. He has been working at armasuisse since 1 August 2006 in Procurement, where he performs various functions. He is currently Dep. Head of SA Commerce C+R and team leader of Commerce Computer Systems. Before he came to armasuisse, he worked in industry in the areas of Finance, Marketing and Sales.

Brief profile Tom Hug

Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Monitoring Systems; Andreas Arni, team leader of Commerce Communications Systems; Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep H FAKo and Michael Hess, team leader of Commerce Command and Control Systems; in the Administrative Centre at Guisanplatz 1 in Bern.
(Left to right) Tom Hug, team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Monitoring Systems; Andreas Arni, team leader of Commerce Communications Systems; Claus Köhnen, team leader of Commerce Computer Systems/Dep H FAKo; Michael Hess, team leader of Commerce Command and Control Systems.

Tom Hug graduated with an Executive Master of Business Administration FH in General Management and is a Swiss Certified Marketing Manager. He was active for several years in the national as well as in the international sports industry before he switched to armasuisse in December 2016. He has been team leader of Commerce Reconnaissance and Monitoring Systems since January 2019.