In a gray suit with red tie and pugnacious mien Heinrich von Pierer was at a January morning in 2002 before the Siemens shareholders. Effective advertising, he was one of the new Siemens mobile phones in the air. And then he called to the ten thousand shareholders: "One of the clear objectives of what we had recently is probably not yet been formulated, namely: Beat GE, General Electric beat!"
beat GE to overtake arch-rivals, or at least to get at least within sight – then sought Siemens managers for decades. "There was a real GE paranoia," says a senior manager. In von Pierer, Siemens was the target but a little closer, but the profitability of our U.S. competitors seemed unattainable. As von Pierer spent his battle cry, Siemens achieved just an operating margin of nearly three percent. GE exceeded 20 percent.