“As a dairy, we have to listen.”
Geopolitical crises, plantbased nutrition trends, the shortage of skilled workers – in a perfect storm, Ingo Müller is confident when he thinks about DMK’s future. For the CEO, transforming the company with Strategy 2030 is turning out to be the right way forward.
Ingo Müller, CEO

“I’m sure that I would be very unhappy if I had to do the same job over and over again. I constantly feel a hunger for change, innovation and improvement. I get inspired by the people around me. And I am not only talking about my international network of people active in di erent industries. I also listen closely when I spend time with my family, old friends or neighbours, when we sit down together and chat. Sometimes we might be talking about a branch that’s hanging over the fence in someone’s garden. Other times, we turn to issues that are bothering us, and consider solutions together. What I notice is that as long as we keep t talking, that reduces the pressure a bit and we find doors opening that we hadn’t seen before. As a dairy, we must listen to what consumers want in exactly the same way. Animal welfare, climate protection, changing dietary habits have all become mainstream issues. We cannot close our eyes and ears to these concerns. Also, even if plant-based alternatives are becoming more popular, we must hold onto the awareness that our job is to be a reliable provider of milk, a key nutritional building block that contains important vitamins, enzymes and carbohydrates.

By 2050, there will be around 10 billion people in the world who will need to be fed, scientists say. That cannot be done with vegan food alone – it would require an enormous circular economy to convert fields into arable land. That would be impossible. So, what we need is a balance between plant and animal proteins. And as we combat climate change, the answer is also not to have fewer cows. We are working on a range of ways for farmers to minimize their CO2 footprint and are testing Net-Zero Farms. Modified feed can reduce cows’ carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent, for example. That’s one of the challenges we face as a company. But I find all this encouraging and it shows me that there are many ways you can be part of change. Strategy 2030 is no exception: the absolute determination to change makes me feel positive, because digitization is helping us become more flexible and respond even faster to crises, from the pandemic to supply bottlenecks caused by the war in Ukraine. That makes us authentic as a company and embedded in our DNA. A culture of feedback is also part of this, with an annual employee survey, for example. What do you want to talk about? What do older and younger colleagues say is missing from their working lives? What are our responsibilities as a company? The ability to accept criticism and make change increases everyone’s resilience and that makes DMK stronger as a whole, as it benefits from motivated employees. In my view, all this should be fun.”

Dr. Frank Claassen, CFO

“For me, change always has a positive connotation. It’s what drives me to get out of bed every day. If you want to be a leader, you must be able to communicate your values and also want to work with honest with myself: What is important to me? What do I stand for? Managers should ask themselves these questions on a regular basis, because at every level of the company, there is a growing need to inspire employees to do new things and embrace new ways of working. The pace of cultural change is accelerating, which means we not only need to have highly motivated teams, but also qualified employees who complement each other across the board, beyond each different unit. As managers, making this happen is an important task. I think that all the crises have shown us that individuals can have a greater impact in flat hierarchies.”