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"Crisis management is team work - communication is key" - Key learnings from the Expert Talk with Katharina Zeitlhofer von der PALFINGER AG

Katharina Zeitlhofer, Vice President Corporate GRC & International Audit / Corporate Accounting & Taxes of PALFINGER AG, talks about risk management as a management tool in crises.

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Virtual Expert Talk: Risikomanagement als Steuerungsinstrument in Krisen

As part of our Virtual Expert Talk on 10 June 2021, Katharina Zeitlhofer (Vice President Corporate GRC & International Audit/Corporate Accounting & Taxes at PALFINGER AG) spoke with Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Güttel about what she has learned from current crises and how companies can be successfully steered through critical times with strategic risk management.

We have summarized the key learnings for you:

  • Risk management & decisions go hand in hand: At PALFINGER, risk managers are involved wherever decisions are made - starting with the planning process. This is essential to make risks transparent and to improve decisions.
  • The positive side of risks: Risk means deviation from planning - in a positive sense, this can also result in opportunities for the Company. In risk management, it is important to take proactive and preventive measures to reduce negative risks.
  • Crisis management as team work: Particularly as a result of the current Covid crisis, PALFINGER has learned that crisis management involves the entire company and that employees have to work together and, above all, creatively on measures in special task forces. The better prepared and trained the team is, the faster it can react to crises.
  • Reaching the summit calmly - even in bad weather: How risk and crisis management are linked can be described using the example of a hike. A route is planned, potential risks are proactively identified - but despite preventive measures, unexpected crises such as a change in the weather can hinder the achievement of goals. Thanks to risk management, such crises can be successfully overcome.
  • Preparation is the be-all and end-all: Risk management is primarily a preventive measure, while in crisis management a plan for the event of a crisis is already prepared and, in the best case, trained. This means that the necessary steps can be taken at an early stage.
  • Communication is key: Exchange with the various departments is essential for risk management. In times of crisis, it should be clear which topics must be on the agenda and which channels are necessary for this.

The crisis of the past few months in particular has made PALFINGER increasingly aware of how important it is to be prepared for a crisis and how necessary it is to have an exchange and transparency within and between the departments as well as a solid training and preparation of the team. According to Zeitlhofer, it is important to have a positive mindset, perseverance and a lot of courage in doing things in times of crisis.


About the expert

Katharina Zeitlhofer is Vice President Corporate GRC & Internal Audit and Corporate Accounting & Taxes at PALFINGER AG. After many years of experience in auditing and consulting in a Big4 company, she joined PALFINGER AG in 2012 and has been part of the senior management team since 2017. She is a tax consultant and certified public accountant. Since 2019, she has been teaching at the Institute of Leadership and Change Management at JKU in Linz.

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