Christian Brönnimann strengthens the DECTRIS management in January 2022 by handing over the CEO’s mantle to CTO Matthias Schneebeli. The decision is only one example of a company-wide trend to distribute responsibilities and leadership, and it’s a natural next growth move after the company delivered a record-high number of X-ray and electron detectors in 2020.
Dr. Christian Brönnimann (left) and Dr. Matthias Schneebeli (right)
Christian founded DECTRIS 15 years ago, and he has been at the helm ever since, doubling as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Matthias joined DECTRIS in 2008 as a physicist and employee #8, and in 2010 he took over the Product Development department. He has been a member of the DECTRIS Executive Board since 2014, and Matthias became the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2017. In other words, the two leaders have worked together for a long time, and the future CEO already knows the company, the business, the suppliers and the customers.
Splitting the roles of CEO and chairman is nothing unusual, and CEO appointments are daily news in the business media. What makes the shift in DECTRIS special is that it’s only one example of a company-wide trend toward trimming hierarchies and distributing power. What happens at the top is also happening deeper within.
“We have decided not to hire a replacement for me as the head of the Development department”, Matthias says. Instead, the various roles of a department head will be distributed across the different managers within Development. Meanwhile, DECTRIS has started to experiment on self-organizing groups without a direct line manager, as well as groups that have two line managers focusing on their core strengths.
“We have great technology, valuable intellectual property and an impressive customer base. However, our main assets are the knowledge and abilities of our people”, Matthias explains. “We believe that strict hierarchies filter out many good ideas and cause people to underestimate their own abilities.” Furthermore, no one person can tick all the boxes of a great leader, so by empowering multiple, diverse people we get better leadership, Matthias believes.
DECTRIS is on a growth path and the founder-chairman continues to enjoy the ride. “The company’s success has exceeded my wildest expectations and these 15 years have been the most exciting ones in my life. I love the people that I work with and I love the business we are in”, says Christian. DECTRIS has its roots in the synchrotron community, and serving this community is still the company’s core business. In addition, DECTRIS is also growing in X-ray laboratories, and the recent entry into electron detection opens up many new opportunities. “We need to make sure to listen and understand these new customer communities very well”, agree both Christian and Matthias.
“We will continue with our mission to enable scientific discoveries and advance human health by challenging the limits of detection technology”, Christian promises. Great customer service will come through a great company culture.