“On December 22, 2017, I was on standby in my hotel waiting for the final signature on the contracts. I’d promised my family I would be home in time for Christmas – but conditional on getting the go-ahead in Egypt.” That was the culmination of a three-year acquisition process and over eight months of negotiations. But one of the lawyers said: “Unfortunately, it’s going to take until at least December 24th.” Siewert didn’t realize at first that the lawyer was joking – the contracts had in fact already been signed. “When I figured that out, it was the best Christmas present ever, and I made it home in time for the festivities.”
Meanwhile, the project, worth EUR 260 million, is now in full swing. The plant in Egypt’s new government district south of Cairo is scheduled to start operations in 2020 and is regarded as critically essential infrastructure. Egypt will print and process the bulk of its banknotes at the new facility. This marks a huge leap forward for the country: “The banknote cycle will be largely automated and even more secure. Supporting a transition from manual processing to full automation in one step is something not even banknote specialists like us do every day,” reveals Siewert, who clearly relishes the task.
Marc-Julian Siewert travels home after a two-day trip to Egypt to visit the customer.
Marc-Julian Siewert shortly before the last meeting of the day
The contract is the largest that G+D Currency Technology has ever handled. “We are covering the entire value chain, from software and IT security through printing, automation, and processing equipment to service provision. What ultimately convinced the client was the fact that we were even able to put project financing in place. None of our competitors has the same breadth of strengths,” Siewert reports. He is also particularly proud of his own contribution when it comes to a very different aspect of the project: “We’re supporting the Central Bank of Egypt in training around 1,500 employees at the plant. When this topic came up during the negotiations, I realized that it was a real motivation booster for me and my team because it’s such a key element.”
At the start of the project in 2014, Siewert was still sales manager for the Middle East and Africa. There were inevitably some things that got under his skin as work progressed. “Everyone in the project knew that I got red in the face when I reached my pain threshold in negotiations.” And that was not unusual during his 50 or so trips to Egypt. “Generally, though, I have grown as a person during this project in terms of my patience, self-confidence, and perseverance. That will all serve me well in the future,” shares the 34-year-old. Despite his long association with Egypt, he has not learned Arabic. “Maybe a few phrases. But I’ve come to understand a lot about the country and its people. Trust and personal contact are always central to our business. And that’s especially true in Egypt – trust is the greatest asset.” Cultural experiences like these are an added perk of the job, in Siewert’s view, enabling him to see things from different perspectives and broaden his own horizons.
So what’s on the cards for the future, following this headline achievement? “G+D stands a very good chance of securing and delivering other major projects of this kind,” concludes Siewert, who is now in charge of major solutions contracts at Currency Technology. His team has grown significantly and now numbers 100 – a mixture of young people and seasoned experts with years of experience. “The way we operate – with incredible agility and in highly innovative markets like automation – means we can make our own small contribution to shaping the future.” And, as we now know, still manage to spend Christmas at home with the family.
That is the number of monetary authorities that work with G+D. Many countries in Africa place their trust in G+D’s security solutions. We provide an exceptionally wide range of services covering the entire cash cycle – from design to production with counterfeit-resistant materials and authentication features through to high-performance processing machines and entire cash centers. IT security and big data analysis are also part of our portfolio for a growing market: Cash remains the most popular payment method worldwide.