Company: Robert Bosch
Location: Abstatt, Germany
Education: Degree in mechanical engineering from the university of cooperative education in Stuttgart
Marital status: Single
My first job was to work on the manufacturing technology of car diagnostic systems at Bosch. I was only 22 when I started, and 25 when I got my first management job. My career in the auto industry was the result of my decision to go to a technical primary school at the age of 16. I already knew then that I wanted to get a job in the automotive industry.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
That I have helped to success-fully reorganize some business areas so they could start achieving sustainable growth again.
What is your proudest personal achievement?
My colleagues say I am still authentic. I am proud to have a very good relationship and a good network throughout all hierarchy levels.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
My biggest mistake was to wrongly assess a former colleague. I gave him a lot of support and realized too late that he did not deserve it. What I learned is this: If I have doubts I openly tell the person my concerns, and I tell them really fast.
What is your current challenge at work?
The division I am responsible for is originally made up of five different companies Bosch had bought. They had their own identities, but we are a global player and have to approach our customers with one face. So my current challenge is a threefold one: to bring out the strengths of these formerly individual units, to integrate them into one division so that we are more competitive, and finally to speak with one voice to the customer.
What about the auto industry surprised you?
I found it really surprising that the public and some European carmakers did not expect that Bosch and other European suppliers would be able to supply parts for ultra-low-cost cars. My division, for example, supplies the entire braking system for the Tata Nano.What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry?
The auto industry must encourage girls and young women at an early stage to learn more about technology. They also should be encouraged to focus on engineering in their studies. Bosch supports this idea very successfully and employs more women than the average.
Are you doing anything to get more women interested in automotive careers?
I support Femtec in Berlin. That’s a program to encourage women to start careers in research and technology. They organize trips to companies in the industry so that women can learn more about the auto industry. I am very involved with Femtec. I do presentations and help business roundtable discussions with young women. My basic message is: It’s fun to work in this business.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
A former boss advised me not to try to play a role. He told me this during a time in my life when I was trying to behave like a management executive. He told me to show my own strengths and be myself.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in the auto industry?
Women have to be interested in technology. It is not enough to know about economics. Women in the car industry should be excited about cars. I am excited to see how much of the technology that is finding its way into the car makes cars easier to drive and environmentally friendly.
I would also advise young women to start their career in a global company. You are talking to Asians in the morning, to Russians at lunchtime, and to Americans in the evening. It becomes part of your day to interact with people from different cultures with different mentalities, as well as different genders.
The auto industry is used to diversity. We deal with diversity every day and have to try to understand local markets and serve their needs.
But at the same time we act globally and try to create synergies. In such a culture, women have excellent opportunities to develop.
What do you do to relax?
I jog. Running is compatible with all the travel. I also love going for a beer with friends.