Executive Interview: Roland Gerke, President and CEO of BSH Home Appliances Holding (China)

Roland Gerke is the current President and CEO of BSH Home Appliances Holding (China). In 2011, under the leadership of Gerke, BSH formally established its headquarters for the China Region in Nanjing. It was the first regional headquarters of a transnational corporation in Nanjing to be recognized and approved by the Commerce Ministry.

Gerke is not only a CEO leading the home appliance business but also a German who loves home appliances. In his opinion, automated home appliances save labor. People who operate these automated home appliances are also important. When Gerke first joined BSH in Germany, he started his career as the product manager of the dishwasher department. Then he came to Southeast Asia and then to China, and finally made his current achievements.

When he was in Germany, Gerke met his wife, Lydia Yang, a flautist from Taiwan, China, at a concert. Gerke likes music. They were together because of their common interest in music and came to China together. They often play music of various styles at home. They also read the same books; Gerke reads the German version while Lydia reads the Chinese version, and then they discuss the book with each other. They like living in Nanjing and in Jiangsu. In Gerke's opinion, Nanjing is their only home.

Editor: I am particularly interested in why you've chosen to stay in China for such a long time.

Gerke: It has been my honor to be able to witness BSH's continuous growth. When I first arrived in China, we started everything from scratch, for example, constructing the first plant in Wuxi and setting up the sales and marketing departments. I am very honored to be able to witness BSH's development, China's development, and the development of Jiangsu. To some extent, all of BSH home appliances' development and Jiangsu's development are inextricably linked.

Editor: Why did you select Nanjing as the place to locate the headquarters of BSH China?

Gerke: At that time, we weighed the necessary conditions for promoting the development of BSH and considered the multiple advantages of Nanjing, and finally made the decision. At that time, Nanjing was already a multicultural international metropolis. Historically, Nanjing was selected multiple times as China's capital. Moreover, Nanjing has a number of well-known universities, of which, two are ranked in the top 10 in China. We have always wanted to attract more talent. Geographically, Nanjing is located in the Yangtze River Delta area, which is one of the China's major economic centers, and happens to be in the middle of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Shanghai. Nanjing has convenient transportation. There are direct flights to every major city in China and international flights with stops in Beijing and Hong Kong. Now, there are non-stop flights to Germany from Nanjing.

Editor: We heard that there are photos of your kitchen in your mobile phone, and the appliances in your kitchen are all BSH products.

Gerke: Yes, I have an automatic coffee machine at home. There is an interesting story about it. My wife did not drink coffee until she was 40 years old. My coffee machine allows you to add ingredients such as milk or flavorings to the coffee. So, since we have this coffee machine, my wife has started to create various coffees and she now drinks a cup of coffee every morning. In the past, she never drank coffee. Now, she likes to drink lattes. It is a great change.

Editor: We are also interested in stories about you and your wife. Could you share some of your stories with us?

Gerke: Actually we met in Europe. My wife was studying in Vienna at that time and I was working there. We met each other at a concert. She is a musician. I love music. Music brings us together.

Editor: I guess there is another reason you have stayed in China for such a long time, is it because your wife is Chinese?

Gerke: My wife is ethnic Chinese. I have been living in China for a long time. Our children like both Chinese and German cultures. If one does not enjoy life somewhere, he cannot stay there for a long time. We love living in Nanjing. This is our home here. Yes, our only home is in Nanjing.