“Tomorrow’s customer doesn’t care about our yellow boxes.
It’s all about the intelligence inside.”

An interview with Dorothea Bender-Fernández, Chair of Bender Group Supervisory Board

What is your job at Bender?

Bender’s mission has remained unchanged for 75 years: To protect people and machines from the hazards of electricity. Therefore, it’s my task to ask: How can we fulf‌ill our mission today and tomorrow? And what changes do we have to implement today to get to tomorrow.
I want to establish a peak performance culture and am extremely curious to see how the changes that we make today will impact the company in the next 25 years to come. One day I want to send out an invite to my team with the subject “100 years of Bender – jubilee planning.”

Was it always clear to you that you would join the family business?

To be honest, no. But when I think back, there were a lot of things pointing in that direction all through my life. My childhood bedroom, for example, was the old off‌ice of my grandfather, Walter Bender. And a soldering iron was def‌initely one of my favorite toys. I was always fascinated by technology and I absolutely loved studying electrical engineering. But taking on an active role at Bender? That wasn’t my plan. I believe that in life, we don’t always see the path we’re on until later, but I’m very happy that my path led me here.

What does your job look like?

I set the course for the future of our company together with the other members of the Supervisory Board. With Carsten Hoff and Matthias Händle, we establish strategic guidelines and support management so that we head in the same direction, both culturally and operationally. We as the company can’t sit back and rely on what we have accomplished so far. We want to continue to shape the future of electrical safety.

You’ve been on the Supervisory Board for 2 years now – what have been your biggest achievements so far?

Having a Supervisory Board was completely new for Bender. We had to establish and set up a new management team consisting of the Supervisory and the Executive Boards. Implementing new ways to work together and take Bender to a new level. And we managed to do that! The collaboration between the new team is characterised by incredible openness and mutual respect. Everyone brings their unique skills and is an expert in their own f‌ield. It is a highly motivating environment that leads to great results.

We are also proud to welcome 74 new employees in Dresden and a company in Singapore to the Bender Group. As managing partners we now have the fourth generation of our family on board – this is a crucial moment to ask ourselves: What is Bender’s vision? What values should def‌ine our corporation in the future? And what corporate culture do we strive for?

What is the main challenge for Bender?

Today, we’re a global business. We need to move closer together and combine our experiences and know-how globally. We live in a very fast and highly complex market. The better we work as a global team the faster we will deliver the best results to our customers. It is a delicate balance of providing the products needed today and not being too fast with the solutions of tomorrow.

What does the customer of tomorrow need?

Tomorrow’s customer doesn’t care about our yellow boxes. It’s all about the intelligence inside. Customers aren’t looking for a single product, they expect complete solutions. And for every customer, solution can mean something completely different. We need strong partners and cooperations worldwide to be able to provide these solutions and services.

Where do you see Bender in 10 years?

We’re currently present in all future markets – from e-mobility to industry to hospital technology. These markets are steadily growing, so there will be a lot of opportunities for us to grow our business.
It may still sound strange to some, but we are a tech company. It is no longer only the hardware that makes the difference, it’s the software that is the most important part of our solutions. And that will guide us in the next years to come.
We carry a great responsibility. It’s not our job to make sure people can open their front door with their phone. Our job is to detect electrical faults that can lead to extremely dangerous situations which can have far-reaching consequences, from the loss of human life in a hospital to property damage at a beer bottling plant. This requires a high level of expertise and that is our specialty. And this will remain the focus of our operations.

What drives you personally?

I want to make an impact – like our jubilee motto says.
I want our solutions to make a difference in the world. For me, this is not just about change, but about constant improvement. There is still so much for us to discover that we don’t even know about today. That’s what makes Bender so exciting and what drives me every day.

Dorothea Bender-Fernández

has had various responsibilities within the Bender Group. She was on the Board of Directors at Bender Inc in the USA and is currently the Chair of the Board for the entire group. She has a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Widener University, where she was president of the IEEE student chapter. She is also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.