As part of the celebrations marking the 650th anniversary of the University of Vienna, we are presenting several voestalpine employees who graduated from the university. Find out more in the following interview about Peter Felsbach, Head of Group Communications & Group Spokesman at voestalpine AG.
Born and raised in Klagenfurt, after completing his schooling at Lerchenfeld high school, Felsbach took a ‘detour’ via Graz before arriving to study in the capital. Peter Felsbach graduated from the University of Vienna in Journalism and Communication Sciences, with a minor in Sports Science. He stayed on at Austria’s oldest university to complete his Master’s in Public Relations before studying further in Frankfurt. In the following interview he talks about his current work and his passion for communication.
Mr. Felsbach, what makes your degree interesting, and how does it help you in your current position?
After 15 years in a variety of management positions involved in stakeholder and corporate communications, as well as strategic consulting, I’m constantly aware of how useful the theory and skills you learn at university are in your working life.
"It's easy to lose sight of the connections and the big picture in your daily work, which means it's always helpful to be able to draw on the structured approach practiced during your time as a student."
What moment do you remember in particular?
I believe that you always have a close emotional relationship with your alma mater. The 650th anniversary celebrations at the University of Vienna contributed to this awareness. Looking back, I’m particularly proud of two milestones in my university career: the first was managing to graduate which, after a four year break spent doing stimulating work for international companies, almost didn’t succeed because of my degree thesis. And the second was the moment that I first stood up to teach, as a course lecturer at the University of Vienna and the Danube University Krems.
What brought you to voestalpine, and when?
It was hugely satisfying for a Klagenfurt boy, who started his studies in Graz and finished them in Vienna, and who then made a short stop at the Business School in Frankfurt to become a Certified Investor Relations Officer, to finally end up at our headquarters in Linz. It was the first time I’d come full circle in my professional career. I’ve been press spokesman for almost four years now, and became Head of Group Communications at voestalpine AG on January 1, 2015.
Could you tell us something about your work?
Since the start of the year I’ve been responsible for corporate communications in my role as Head of Group Communications and Group Spokesman, working with a team of 20 employees. Internationalization is a topic we shall be focusing on intently over the coming years. The communication channels are as diverse as our employee and customer structure. Group communications covers areas such as media relations, internal communications, online communications and social media.
"We want to be pioneers and frontrunners wherever we are. "
After internal and external communication, the third key area is brand communications. That includes everything related to brand campaigns, advertising and various corporate videos.
What do you particularly enjoy about your job and working at voestalpine?
voestalpine’s process of internationalization is advancing in huge strides. So we’re following a consistent internationalization strategy, and this also makes significant demands on us here at Group Communications. We’re present on every continent and, where we’re not the global leader, we number amongst the top 3 in many sectors. Here at Group Communications we support every site, so when a query is received in China or the USA, it gets passed straight on to us in Linz. That’s something else that makes our work incredibly exciting. And we’re successful, as numerous international awards and prizes demonstrate.
What tip can you offer potential applicants in your area of operations?
At the time I was studying, a Journalism and Communication Science degree was seen as the direct route to a dead end. But many examples have proved the opposite is true. One thing is also clear: a university education is only the start. Curiosity, hard work, the courage to take new directions and finding niches which suit you has been my formula for success to date.
"Communication means being passionately convinced about something; there are no comfort zones."
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
I see communication as the most exciting task within a company, one offering the largest possible creative leeway. And today’s communication is shaped by increasing digitalization, networking, a rapid pace, and internationalization.
"Consequently, the future of successful communication doesn't lie in optimizing the status quo, but rather in permanently developing your own possibilities and communication channels, and appropriately addressing dialog groups."