DA alumnus Herbert Cordt on his career since graduating from DLG 08 in 1973
You are Chairman of the Board at RHI Magnesita. What exactly are your responsibilities on the job and how did your career path look like so far?
RHI MAGNESITA is the world market leader in refractories, headquartered in Vienna. Our production footprint covers more than 28 factories around the globe, including Brazil, Mexico, the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Scotland, Turkey, India and China. We reported revenues in 2020 way above 2 bn. euros. We employ more than 13,000 employees. We have a premium listing at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in the FTSE 250. LSE governance stipulates a one tier board leading the company. This board consists of non-executive and executive directors. The chairman leads the board and takes ultimate responsibility for the company.
I started my professional career in the Austrian Ministry of Finance as an advisor to the then Minister of Finance, Dr. Hannes Androsch. After four years in this exciting position - primarily in charge of the finance sector including the Austrian National Bank and the formulation and execution of the "Hartwährungspolitik" - and a top level executive management training at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, I was appointed to the executive board (Vorstand) of Österreichische Postsparkasse (PSK).
After six years at PSK I was appointed to join the executive board of Österreichische Länderbank, the Number Two commercial banking institution at the time, where I served in various portfolios, i.a. credit, international, large customers, etc.
After a brief stint as CEO of Gaskoks - at the time a top Austrian trading company - I decided to leave the corporate world and started my own consulting business.
Have you always been interested in this specific career, or has this interest developed over time?
I have always been open to new challenges and curious enough to move outside my comfort zone.
How has the DA helped you develop your career?
The DA was instrumental in enriching my life in various aspects: enhancing my curiosity, meeting interesting and interested people from different jurisdictions and geographies, rallying around the idea to help improve the world around us. This last aspect seems a bit far fetched, yet I believe one has to have ideals to go after. And sure enough, be prepared to also fail in your endeavors.
Is there a specific skill set taught at the DA that is particularly useful for your current job?
After I graduated from the DA I was invited to attend the MSFS class at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and graduated in 1974. This U.S./international education again was very specific and reinforced my interest in international affairs.
Where do you think the future will take you?
I have no idea what the future holds for me nor where I will be actively engaged doing sensible work. At my age I am no longer looking for executive functions but rather serving in non-executive positions, lending my experience to those who are interested in it.
I strongly believe that our future is full of opportunities and I am hugely indebted to the DA having groomed me for the coming challenges.