Research - 03.07.2012 - 00:00 

Global Account Management

Those who engage in economic activities do so on a global scale if possible. This calls for a change of thinking in customer/supplier relations. These are what the HSG’s Center for Global Account Management focus on.


3 July 2012. Early this year, the Research Institute for International Management (FIM-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen set up the world’s first Center for Global Account Management (CGAM). On Friday, 29 June 2012, Prof. Winfried Ruigrok, Director of the FIM-HSG and Dean of the Executive School (ES-HSG) welcomed about 100 representatives from trade and industry and from research to the official inauguration. Besides big corporations like ABB, Adecco, Allianz, BASF, Coca-Cola, Henkel, General Electric, IBM, Liebherr, Nikon, Oracle, SAP, Schindler, Tetra Pak and Swiss Re, smaller firms in which international operations play a significant part, such as Klüber Lubrication, Nüssli, Tormax and Zehnder, were also represented.

50 per cent of world trade

Global customer/supplier relations characterise business practice between companies in many industries. According to Fortune Magazine, the 500 most global firms accounted for more than 30 per cent of the world economy’s gross national product in 2011 alone; this means that a few thousand firms are responsible for a share of approx. 50 per cent of world trade.

“The customers they deserve”

“Companies have precisely those customers which they deserve,” says Dr. Christoph Senn, Director of the new Center for Global Account Management (CGAM) at the FIM-HSG. “If suppliers are able to establish sufficiently close relations with global customers, this promises business opportunities well above the average. If the opposite is the case, they are threatened by a loss of major turnover and profit potential, as well as a decline into insignificance.”

Radical paradigm change

The emergence of new, increasingly globally operating competitors from Asia and Latin America, and the continuing trend towards a consolidation of supplier relations, however, constantly intensify the competition for these lucrative customers. This requires a radically different perspective, as Prof. George S. Yip from the China Europe International Business School, Shanghai, remarked at the launch of the CGAM. “Act global, unless you can prove otherwise” is the new paradigm in global business-to-business relations.

“Stop selling – start collaborating”

On the basis of experience reports from Evonik Industries, Credit Suisse and Coca-Cola, David Cummins, Senior Supplier Manager of Shell Oil, Houston, summed up his experiences from a customer’s perspective in the words “Stop selling – start collaborating”. The concluding panel discussion shed light on the demands made on people entrusted with management at the interface between global customers and suppliers, and revealed the areas in which irrespective of their sizes, companies have some catching up to do in terms of organisational structures and training models.

Photo: Photocase / Dagmar Fischer

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