Shaping the future

An interview with Klaus-Peter Sikora, Managing Director of Sterr-Kölln & Partner mbB, on "sustainable business development" as a main focus of work

Sustainability has become quite an overused term. Do you have a better one Mr. Sikora?

"The word 'sustainability' has certainly gained popularity over the past years. One could even have the impression that it is losing significance today. This does not make much difference to us though. Sustainability is not an end in itself. It has been, and always will be, about shaping the future."

But sustainability has not always been the focus of your work...

“No, but the future has always been our focus: At first we specialised in succession planning for family businesses. This is a subject that does not allow short-term concepts. We always aimed at the positive, viable, economically successful and, if you like, sustainable company development.”

How did the new orientation take place?

 “Those who deal with perspectives, and with new areas of business and law come across clients who think and work in a similar way at some point. The first businesses who wanted to develop sustainability and renewable energies into a successful business field were founded in the 1990s. It was called "ecological" instead of sustainable at the time. Lots of people laughed at it. But we shared the opinion that healthy plants grow from 'ecological' soil, especially, and I have to use another over used term now, with respect to a future worth living. The contact to clients therefore developed by itself.“

What were your first case assignments?

"Initially, the assignments came from the wind power sector. This is still a main area of our work today. Many of the legal issues that we identified in the first wind projects are the same found in today’s projects."

Does that mean you deal mainly with projects?

"Does it sound like that? No, projects are just the visible part of our work - the tip of the iceberg. The path from a sustainable idea to practical use includes preparatory talks, workshops and considerations.

We invest the necessary amount of time to define the path towards sustainability with our clients. Only a clear concept of common aims opens up real opportunities to the players. This applies to local renewable energy projects as well as to sustainably orientated businesses and their 'everyday' tasks. Management questions, investment decisions, financing concepts, in a supply company to the wind industry for example, need to be solved on the basis of the sustainably working business."

No one laughs at sustainable ideas nowadays. Are you pleased that 'sustainability' has become a central element of society?

"Of course. It is good that the right idea is finally accepted. Still, fundamental changes require a sense of proportion and careful guidance."

How do you view your work in the future?

"Offshore wind farms, huge pump storage or solar power stations in the desert will not carry us through to the end of the century. We must make use of all local opportunities to live sustainably and to economize. We need entrepreneurial commitment, an open mind for new technologies and the willingness to think in new ways. This is what we will work on in the future with our clients."