Sumitomo Electric Bordnetze GmbH

HR Strategy

HR as a strategic partner for the realisation of the corporate strategy

  • If over 24,000 employees worldwide have to be aligned with a new, ambitious corporate strategy, whose task is this?
  • If an organization searches for a common base after several fusions and takeovers, who will ensure the development of its own identity?
  • If leadership principles and values have not met commitment yet, who makes sure that actions will follow?
  • If you are not yet well-known as an employer, who takes care that excellent candidates can still be found?

The managers of a big automotive supplier in Germany have asked themselves these questions. The result is a straight confession to its HR management

Sumitomo Factsheet

Initial situation:

Sumitomo Electric Bordnetze GmbH (SEBN) is an automotive supplier that concentrates on the development and production of wire harnesses and electronic components for vehicles. Founded as Joint Venture of Siemens and Volkswagen and extended in the following years by several purchases, it was taken over in 2006 by the Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo. At present time more than 24,000 employees work for SEBN at 23 sites in 14 countries, about 400 of them are situated in the corporate headquarter in Wolfsburg.

The eventful past of SEBN provided little breeding ground for a clear corporate identity and affected the attractiveness as an employer from an outside perspective. Problems in recruiting limited the entrepreneurial growth opportunities. The economically turbulent years of the car industry during the world economic crisis lead to a temporary end for corporate HR programs.

In order to find a new line for the whole organisation the initiative “STRIVE” (STRategy, Identity, Values) has been established by the management and the HR department, conducted by the Promerit AG.


The objective of the project was to help SEBN realise the ambitious corporate strategy.

  • It was necessary to develop an independent and self-confident corporate identity. With an authentic Employer Brand the attractiveness of SEBN as an employer was to be increased noticeably.
  • Values and leadership principles had to be worked out selectively and established firmly in the “heads, hearts and hands” of managers and employees. This was meant to help develop SEBN’s corporate culture actively and with a clear target.

The conception for a comprehensive HR management for SEBN had to be enhanced and implemented internationally with modern HR instruments. It was necessary to establish an international HR network functional for all SEBN sites.

Approach and Services of Promerit AG:

The objectives were pursued with three project parts linked to one another:

 ”Employer Branding”:

“How is SEBN perceived as an employer? Which authentic strengths does SEBN have? And what is SEBN’s position on the labour market compared to its competitors?” These were the main questions used to create the Employer Value Proposition (EVP) for SEBN – an authentic, differentiating and relevant employer’s promise. The EVP is the basis for strengthening the corporate identity as well as for all HR marketing and recruiting measures.

“Activating the Workforce”:

Based on the new profile of SEBN, internationally consistent and binding corporate values and leadership principles were created in several workshops with managers and employees. Together with the top management of SEBN the corporate strategy was conveyed with a focus on practical action. The STRIVE-results for identity (“Who are we?”), strategy (“Where do we want to go?”) and values (“How do we want to work together?”) are rolled out worldwide in a cascaded “dialogue tour” as well as in “team summit” workshops with the top management, managers and the HR management.

 ”International HR Management”:

The integration of the HR instruments forms the basis for a corporate synchronised HR management. Guided by Promerit consultants a SEBN competence model with internationally valid potential criteria as well as a corporate job architecture have been developed. The HR instruments recruiting, personnel development and potential management have been revised and developed further in the STRIVE context. At the moment, the IT system implementation is the copestone of the roll-out of the international HR organization at SEBN.

Selected project results and client benefit:

STRIVE – Strategy:

  • An understandably transmitted and guiding corporate strategy for SEBN is shared by managers and employees and is realised within their own context.

STRIVE – Identity:

  • A strengthened corporate identity and a strong Employer Brand for SEBN have an in- and outside effect. With a clear Employer Value Proposition (EVP) a creative concept for an international HR campaign has been developed and implemented.

STRIVE – Values:

  • Organization specific corporate values and binding leadership principles for SEBN strengthen the corporate culture.


Client benefit:

HR is accepted as partner of the top management in this development and roll-out process. The personnel management and Promerit have made a direct contribution to the entrepreneurial success of SEBN with this kind of change management: by ensuring the understandable transmission of the corporate strategy, providing the supply of suitable and qualified employees by means of an attractive Employer Brand as well as by activating managers and employees regarding corporate values and leadership principles.

other cases