Immediately after completing their studies at the University of Tübingen, Heiko Ulmer and his fellow students founded a company that specialized in gas sensors. The physicist, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, developed a chemical sensor system with the keywords 'electronic nose'. After specializing in mass markets, the founders turned to supplying the automotive industry, among others, with their air quality sensors. "In 2014, the company was sold and I stayed with it for another two years. However, I realized that the environment was no longer as collegial as before," says Heiko. As an expert, he was brought on board as Director Business Development Sensirion to assist in the market launch of the gas sensors.
“Even though Sensirion has become quite a large company, it is still very friendly, collegial and harmonious, with flat hierarchies.” Heiko is now General Manager for the subsidiary Sensirion Automotive Solutions (SAS) and deals with the acquisition of new automotive customers. Thanks to his previous experience, Heiko knows the automotive industry well and is able to use his network to grow SAS. Although the automotive market is characterized by high demands and price pressure, SAS has the opportunity to develop further with its innovative products.
"It's incredibly varied, and for me it means that I can apply what I have been doing over the past 20 years. But it's also the challenge that I enjoy." The international customers have high demands that are not always easy to meet for technical or economic reasons. Usually, a compromise is reached that satisfies the customer and results in a positive business case for Sensirion.
Heiko is always on the road in Europe, the US, Korea and China. Taking cultural differences into account is an important factor in collaboration; whereas communication in Europe and the US is similar to the direct nature of German-speaking countries, in Asia one needs to respect local customs. "It's the combination of a European background in partnership with local employees that works well," says Heiko.
Heiko's position as General Manager of SAS comes with a certain responsibility. "However, it also means that one has more opportunities to grow and develop as a person. I enjoy working on something that I can drive forward and Sensirion gives me that opportunity."