Klaus-Peter Warnke, CEO of FuelPlus Group, is responsible for growth of the cultural, strategy, and the company’s performance. He founded FuelPlus in 2000 and developed the company into a world-leading vendor of aviation fuel management software. Before working for FuelPlus, Klaus-Peter held different positions in IT and consulting companies where he gained more than ten years of experience in fuel management. He studied at the University of Hannover in Germany, where he earned his master’s degree in mathematics and computer science.
The Particulars of FuelPlus
FuelPlus is a pioneering aviation fuel management solutions provider and has been serving airlines since 2000 from its German headquarters in Hannover. The FuelPlus aviation fuel management solution brings together large amounts of disparate fuel data across different teams and systems into one platform. The FuelPlus platform has pre-built and customizable integration points that make it easy to consolidate planning, operations, finance, procurement, invoicing and other fuel related data to be accessed, analyzed, and updated by different teams across the airline.
The company focuses on developing the industries with the best fuel management solution, unswerving commitment to the customers, very high standards of excellence, and ongoing innovation. Today, more than 50 airlines representing approx 25% of the world’s commercial aviation fuel consumption trust FuelPlus to streamline their fuel management process.
Leading to the Next Level
FuelPlus sees significant changes and opportunities and has a very exciting vision. They want to continue to provide solutions to all segments of the aviation fuel market such as airlines and suppliers to help them automate their end of the business. Also, they want to enable seamless collaboration between all of these parties. They believe this is where the biggest benefit will come. There is already a lot of automation happening within organizations, but the next level is the automation between organizations.
One key decision that affects the company (customers, employees, and partners) on a daily basis is the investment. FuelPlus is a private company with no debt and no external shareholders. It means they can make long term decisions in the best interests of the customers and employees, and put customers ahead of the short term profit.
The Inspiration to Move Forward
Klaus-Peter explains what makes his team move forward. First, they recruit smart, self-motivated individuals who are able to work with others. Secondly, they have a very clear vision and commitment to their customers such that everyone understands their role. Thirdly, they are private, and because they have made decisions for the long term, it creates much better atmosphere of collaboration and focus.
“My job is to lead by example and make sure that we are moving towards growth together in a collaborative and transparent manner, treating the team with respect. I firmly believe that leading by example motivates people!” Klaus-Peter clarifies.
In his youth, he read the book “Siddhartha” written by Hermann Hesse, a German Novelist. The story is about a young man who lives in Nepal and is looking for enlightening. This book inspired him to look into himself and to trust his own capabilities in order to find his way through life and not try to imitate other persons.
The Leader’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Klaus-Peter always had the entrepreneurial spirit in him. While studying at the University, he developed software for industrial applications as an independent contractor. After finishing his studies, he started a small software firm to develop decision support systems. He attended evening business classes to learn about finance and accounting as these skills were not taught at the University. He worked as an independent contractor for many different firms. All these activities were great preparations and helped a lot when founding FuelPlus in 2000. When asked for the pivotal moment, Klaus-Peter said, “I think there wasn’t a pivotal moment, but rather a natural development that led to the great standing FuelPlus has today.”
Advice to Other Leaders
A strong vision, energy, the ability to communicate, engage with people from many cultures, backgrounds, and personalities and get them to work together can create amazing results. A healthy dose of humility and sense of humor helps get through the challenging times. Technology is changing very fast and accelerating. Making sure that one can keep ahead of those changes and leverage that change is very important.
“Be prepared that the leadership role will separate you from your former colleagues. You will no longer be their friends, but their leader. Therefore, you will have to find balance in your family, community or other activities outside your job. You will have to show confidence in times of trouble. You will always have doubts if you do things the right way. But that’s OK. This constant reflection will help you to grow and become a leader,” Klaus-Peter said.
Developing Business Leadership
Klaus-Peter is constantly working towards improving his skills by reading business management and industry-related articles, speaking with peers, and trying to receive feedback from his team. “I believe that I possess a clear vision of the company’s future, the capability to communicate this vision to our people and the industry, and the willingness to make this vision happen. Also, I have the experience of more than 20 years working in the same field which gives me the confidence to sustain periods of hardship and to motivate people to continue despite this,” He explained.