Education: Degree in economics, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University of Frankfurt
As a child, I admired Mercedes. I particularly liked the S-class sedan. I had an interest in cars from a young age and I had a brother who taught me a lot about cars.
What was your first automotive job?
I was head of the press department at Mercedes-Benz Cars between 1995 and 1997.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
My proudest achievement is getting a license to drive heavy trucks in nine days. When I was appointed as a director of a large Mercedes-owned dealership in Brunswick, Germany, there were many truck customers at the time in that region. I knew that if I didnít understand those customers because if you donít understand those customers it would be difficult to manage a business. So I enrolled in a course to learn how to drive heavy trucks. I wanted to learn something about the vehicles to better understand the needs of the customer. It was a lot of fun.
What is your proudest personal achievement?
When I cycled a famous mountain on the Tour de France course. It was a great feeling to get to the top. Iíve done it four times.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
I donít think I could single out a particular mistake I have made. Iíve learned that the best way to avoid making a mistake in the first place is that you should never make a decision led by fear or greed.
What is your current challenge at work?
My biggest challenge is to further enhance the customerís experience. If you want to do so, you need to have satisfied staff members. And if you have happy members of staff, then you have happy dealers. This is exactly what I am working on in my role. You need to create an attitude, not just a series of measures.
What about the auto industry surprised you?
I was positively surprised by the intensity of the enthusiasm and the emotion of people working in this sector.
What are the biggest obstacles facing women in the auto industry?
To be honest, I donít see any. I think that today the opportunities and the chances for women are greater than ever.
Itís very difficult for me to comment on that.
Are things really more difficult for women than they are for men? Itís difficult for me to give you an opinion, as I have never been a man.What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry?
I think Daimler is a good example. We encourage as much diversity as possible.
It doesnít always mean a mix of men and women, but also young and old. A company needs to have an image that attracts a wide range of people.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Who gave it to you?
It was my first mentor whom I met during an apprenticeship at a brewery that I did before going to university.
The advice was to never forget that business is made by people for people. Numbers are an important tool, but they are only a tool.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in the auto industry?
They should learn to consider criticism as an opportunity for personal and professional improvement instead of taking it as an insult or a personal offense. Criticism can be a positive thing if you take it constructively.
Are women pushed toward marketing and communications and discouraged from engineering and other technical jobs?
I donít think so. On the contrary, we need to have all talents in all segments of a company and in all sectors of the industry.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
Every position gives me the possibility to develop and to work with a strong team. Thatís why I love my current assignment so much.
Whatís your dream job outside the automotive industry?
If I had the talent, I would love to be the conductor of an orchestra or even a soprano singer.
What do you do to relax?
I like jogging, cycling as well as cooking. I also play the piano a little bit but not as much as I would like.
If you became CEO of a company what would you do first?
I would meet with my team to give them the opportunity to trust me and vice versa. You canít lead a team without building up that trust first.