Interview with Hélène Roux, CEO of Aluk

Helene Roux AluK

We met Hélène Roux, CEO of AluK, in her office in Luxembourg to have a better understanding of AluK, their mission and Hélène’s contribution to the group.

When did you join AluK?

I joined Valfidus in 2012 at a turning point to take the leadership of their international business development. AluK was just acquired by Valfidus and the AluK brand name was already well established in Italy, China and in the Middle East.
My role as the leader of AluK started in 2014. My strategy was to integrate and rebrand family run operations into local business units such AluK France, AluK UK, AluK NL, AluK Belgium and to start business units from the ground up such as AluK India. Decision was made to establish AluK Headquarter in Luxembourg to ensure the cohesiveness of our group. The history of the name AluK comes from “Alu” referencing to the aluminum solutions systems we design and engineer and the “K” being the measure of the insulation ratio in construction at the time.

AluK’s presence today:

 ALUK MAP 2018

What is your mission within AluK?

My mission is to grow AluK into a global leader in the aluminum building systems industry, strengthen and develop its operations worldwide, and increase brand awareness.
Together with each local business units, I define AluK’s strategic vision and oversee its global and local implementation.
What are the challenges that you face leading AluK? Are they similar or different for each Business Units?
From one BU to another, our approach to the market is unique and respond to the local demand.  Most AluK’s business units were originally family run with a tremendous legacy of expertise and products.  My role is to implement our group strategy with each local BU, promote best practices and processes to grow our business and our brand cohesively.
Each business unit can therefore tailor its operation to support its market.  Operations are growing thanks to the local flexibility and the convergence of our group mission. It is really a team effort.  As a result, I spend quite a lot of my time traveling across AluK to meet with the teams.

What would you like the world to know about AluK?

The construction industry accounts for 40% of energy consumption and CO² emissions.  For that reason, there are lots of opportunities to become more efficient and innovative.
Through research activity, AluK aims to deliver products offering the best combination between performance and comfort while increasing energy savings and reducing CO² emissions.
In its own operations AluK is also taking a number of initiatives contributing to a more sustainable world. For example, AluK recently invested in electrical cars, installed a PV solar farm to feed AluK factory in France. AluK is currently busy with its digital transformation. This project should enable AluK to reduce paper use and related raw material and energy consumption while improving its interaction with customers.

Are you following any trends?

AluK is currently developing Smart Window solutions and researching future industry standards in anticipation of our market demands. Today the market offers windows that can be remotely opened to renew airflows and regulate the temperature then reducing energy consumption. Today considered as a niche solution it could well become a standard in the next 10 years.
Through advanced communication capabilities and smart sensors, the IoT (internet of things) technology in particular is setting the path for the window industry.
The next generation construction regulations will involve more consideration for technology at the service of energy conservation, as concerns for the environment are stronger than ever before.

What is your professional journey?

I cannot say I aspired to work in the Aluminum industry when I was a little girl; yet I feel that all my prior experiences have led me for this role.
As a young adult, I followed a traditional business coursework, and got my first job working for a financial audit firm.  Then, I moved on to financial consulting with clients from diverse industries.  My professional life had always been centered around financials and as a CFO, I worked extensively in mergers & acquisitions.
On the day my CEO announced he was ready to step down, he surprised me asking to take on his role.  It was unexpected and even though I felt I still needed to learn about the technical side, he assured me I was ready.   I remained there for many years, working with emerging markets until I met with the Valfidus stockholders.
Valfidus presented me with their vision and project for what would become AluK.  I felt inspired by this new venture.  I shared their values and related to their vision.  We discussed clear objectives when the focus on growth.  I had the background and experience and it seemed like the perfect fit.  I decided to join the AluK adventure.

Is the Aluminum sector women friendly?

There is not much statistics around the Aluminum sector; however, we know that in the construction industry women only make up 10%of the workforce, all sectors and activities combined.  I am proud to report that despite working in a man-led industry, AluK currently employs 22% of women and we can find them at all levels of the organization.  I believe that competence and drive is what really matters.

Do you belong to any leadership networks?

As a female leader, I wanted to support and connect with peers and emerging entrepreneurs.
I belong to a few women networking groups:
• ConnectHers- BNP Paribas launched this network to help women develop their entrepreneurial projects, ensure the conditions for their success and promote gender equality.
• FBA-Femme Business Angels – this investing network gathers women with the goal to assist startups in finding funding to launch successful ventures.
Overall, these networking groups are a great way to exchange ideas, support and mentor other women in their career Development.

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