Behind the scenes: Dr. Sebastian Goebel - Managing Director & CFO at FDT
Sebastian Goebel has been Managing Director and CFO at Fresenius Digital Technology since April 2021. He has worked in a number of roles at the Fresenius Group since 2015 and has gained deep insight into different Fresenius activities. In this interview, Sebastian speaks about the extent to which the finance department also contributes to better healthcare provision, the interesting challenges that his department faces, and why transparency is so important to his work and that of his teams.
The COVID pandemic has shown that digital transformation is no longer optional – it is absolutely essential.
What contribution do you and your teams make to Fresenius Digital Technology?
IT is one of the key enablers when it comes to providing better medicine for more people. As an IT organization, one of the central questions for us is: How can we best support the different Fresenius Business Segments to achieve this overarching objective? Digital transformation is now more important than ever. The COVID pandemic has shown that digital transformation is no longer optional – it is absolutely essential. With this in mind, the finance department plays a key role to further improve the provision of healthcare, e.g., by creating a solid basis for decision-making.
Which of the projects that you are responsible for right now do you consider to be the most important?
Transparency is the guiding principle – without transparency we will make the wrong decisions. For example, we have introduced a group-wide IT cost reporting, a truly important first step. This information is essential when it comes to facilitating well-grounded decisions. We realized this project in close collaboration with the Group’s central Corporate Controlling department, as well as all the Fresenius Group companies – in other words, it was a large-scale project that required cooperation across all parts of the business.
Another major project that we are currently working on is about redesigning the commercial model for IT. Our objective is to make IT charging much simpler and more transparent. Increased transparency is once again a guiding principle of this process.
A third project relates to further improving our risk management and internal controls system. The direction is clear: proactive risk management, clearly defined processes, standardized reporting, and open, timely communication. Our objective is to move away from a reactive approach and instead focus on acting with better foresight so that we can address challenges and emerging opportunities in time.
Building up trust is a continuous process, and I can only achieve it by behaving in a consistent and predictable way. That is important to me.
What do you like about working at Fresenius Digital Technology? What is different from other companies?
We are in a period of transition right now. IT often used to be a department that people didn’t pay much attention to, as long as there weren’t any critical issues. Nowadays, IT has a totally different level of importance for an organization as a whole. Digital transformation is one of the key tasks for the Fresenius Group and for the entire healthcare sector. Increasing digitalization and the new ways of doing business that go with it allow us to provide even greater value to patients. But it is an ongoing process: we are not talking about a sudden, revolutionary happening here; instead, it is about evolution and constant development.
The exciting thing is that, here at Fresenius Digital Technology, we are right at the beginning of this journey and that means that there is enormous potential for colleagues to shape this process, as well as for people who are interested in the new challenges facing IT. Areas of responsibility range from classic IT topics, like rolling out SAP S4/HANA, to the intelligent use of data to improve treatment results or to structure entirely new business models. In short: this is a fascinating place to work for people who want to seize emerging new opportunities.
Trust and transparency are vital in a period of transformation. How do you encourage this?
I have a lot of one-to-ones, for which I always reserve time in my calendar. I have also introduced special meeting formats with the aim of breaking down departmental silos and identifying what matters most to the teams. This provides an opportunity for all team members - not just divisional heads and team leaders - who are currently working on interesting topics to inform about their projects. I am also a big fan of the recently introduced formats for small group discussions, e.g., Virtual Coffees. Generally speaking, I think it is important that we don't just talk about the more superficial topics, but also address critical issues. What are my teams concerned about? What is keeping them busy? We discuss this openly and honestly. Needless to say, I don’t have all the answers. But it is important to communicate in a way that is transparent and creates trust. Building up trust is a continuous process, and I can only achieve it by behaving in a consistent and predictable way.