Company: GM Europe
Education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Emden University
Family: Husband, Karl-Hermann; daughter, Imke, 6
I was a planning engineer in the bodyshop in Rüsselsheim after I did an apprenticeship with a car mechanic after high school.
I was always interested in the auto industry and my friends and I were always around cars.
I was interested in stock cars, driving them, rebuilding old cars and then wrecking them and rebuilding them again. It was not just the racing, it was getting the car ready for the next race.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
To sit here in general assembly and to be part of the launch of the Insignia. I am the general assembly leader, and I lead the launch and pilot teams. All the stuff needs to be there; the people need to be trained and have the right awareness. This is the most important launch for GM Europe now.
What is your proudest personal achievement?
Becoming a mother.
What is your current challenge at work?
To run the concurrent build here. We are getting ready for the upcoming launches while also ensuring the runout of the current car, the Vectra, without any compromises in quality.
There are different kinds of launches. Sometimes you are running out one and starting up the next one. But if you have concurrent build you are running one out while starting up the next one. It is not a stop one day, it is a mixture. It is overlap the whole time.
What about the auto industry surprised you?
The complexity. There is a lot of technology and know-how in cars. This complexity is not only in production. You need lots of people with the right skills to make sure it fits together.What are the biggest obstacles facing women in the auto industry?
There were more obstacles in the beginning. When I was an apprentice at a mechanic’s shop there were not even toilets for women, but at GM everything is here. Now there are not that many women in the industry, so it is hard to show you can do all the stuff the men do even though you have the same technical understanding and you can run a business. But it is becoming easier.
What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry?
More needs to be done to get them interested when they are in school.
School and the family have a responsibility to teach technical things. It is normal to teach children about music and dance and sports; I think you also need to teach kids abstract things like engineering.
What are you doing to get more women interested in automotive careers?
We all need to train people. There is a responsibility there. It is not a question of women or men. We have to show people the opportunities that they could have. In Germany, once a year we have “Girls’ day,” where girls ages 14 and 15 learn about different jobs. This program, which is organized centrally by GM Rüsselsheim, is not only in production, but engineering, development and marketing.
For 16- and 17-year-old girls, we have a work-shadowing scheme. Normally I do it with a group, where I have five girls shadowing me and we talk to the people who are here.
We have lunch with the girls and discuss things. I like doing it. When you are 15 or 16 years old, you have a lot of things going on in your head. The most important thing is your free time, but I can show them you can have fun while you work.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
Plant director: It is the most challenging job you can get. There is complexity.
You are the person responsible for the press shop, all assembly areas, as well as finance, logistics and personnel.
What do you do to relax?
I play golf, but am also redesigning our house. We drew up the plans and are doing the building work ourselves as well.