GFT CEO Ulrich Dietz exploring new ground: “Look back on 30 years with pride”
Mr. Dietz, you are resigning as Managing Director and CEO of GFT on 31 May 2017 of your own accord. A big step that surely comes as a surprise to some people, especially at this time. Why now?
Dietz: You know, for me there could not be a better time. We are celebrating an anniversary this year: 30 years of GFT. I look back on these 30 years with pride. We started out as a small family-owned company in the Black Forest; today we are a large, international group with around 5,000 employees in twelve countries and impress well-known customers all over the world with our digital services and solutions. In addition to undergoing remarkable growth in 30 years, we have also experienced some exciting times. Everything I wanted to achieve with GFT has become a reality. For me, the IPO in 1999 was one of the most moving events in the company’s history and I will never forget it. In 2011 I envisioned developing CODE_n. We moved up into the TecDax in 2015. In the same year, we also did justice to our international structure with our transformation from a stock corporation into a European Company (Societas Europaea, SE).
However, it’s not just these positive experiences, but also the challenging times in the last 30 years that have made GFT what we are today: The technology partner for the digital transformation of the financial sector. After three decades of passionate work, I can now truly say: It’s time to explore new ground.
What challenges will you tackle after 30 eventful years at GFT?
Dietz: First, it’s not like I’m turning my back on the company entirely. As future Chairman of the Administrative Board, I will continue to make fundamental strategic decisions. So I will still be “on board”.
However, in the future my main focus will be on the development of CODE_n, GFT’s innovation brand, which has always been close to my heart. It represents an idea that was always very important to me, also at GFT: We want to cultivate innovation and show that it is truly part of our DNA. With CODE_n we have created an ecosystem in the last few years that brings together the digital avant-garde around the world. It is important now to develop this enormous potential even further. All of this is controlled from the CODE_n SPACES in our GFT Corporate Center in Stuttgart – so I won’t be physically leaving the ship in the Stuttgart harbour, either.
In addition, I have some other plans which I’d prefer not to talk about in detail at this time. Let me put it this way: There is still a lot to do, and digitalisation on its own will keep me occupied. No, I’m not ready to relax and take it easy just yet. Other than perhaps reading a good book more often. (laughs)
Marika Lulay, as your successor, will be taking over the CEO’s responsibilities in the future. Do you see any major changes coming for the company?
Dietz: When we founded GFT in 1987, I envisioned a company that was always at the forefront in the areas of innovation and technology. After nearly 15 years of collaboration with Marika, I know that she shares this vision with me. Her objective is to promote digitalisation in the financial sector and to keep GFT growing. Thus, there definitely won’t be any changes to this fundamental focus. After all, we’re not bringing an outsider on board: As Managing Director and current Chief Operating Officer, Marika knows the company like no other. She cultivated the internationalisation of the company and played a decisive role in the development of the “Global Delivery Model”. These are exactly the reasons why I have the utmost trust in her and know that GFT is in good hands. However, I don’t just want to thank Marika, to whom I’m now handing over the reins. I would also like to thank our employees throughout the world, who have given me their trust and support through all the years. They will continue hearing from me in the future.
Thank you for the interview, Mr. Dietz!