Company: Ford of Europe
Education: Business degree, Administration and Business Academy in Cologne
Family: Husband, Norbert; cat, Peppi, 19
Apprentice at Ford-Werke in Cologne, Germany. My parents suggested that I apply at Ford. I was surprised to get the job.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
To be where I am today. It is an excellent achievement for a man or a woman.
What is your proudest personal achievement?
I am able to balance private and professional life because my husband has given up his career. He stays at home and supports me. He is a fantastic cook and takes care of our private life. He likes this solution and is happy with it. This arrangement gives me the opportunity to engage in my job the way I do.
What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
I should have gone to college right after I finished my primary school education. Instead, I started a commercial apprenticeship and years later went after a degree in business administration by taking classes at night. That was difficult and could have been avoided. But in the end it taught me a lot about organization, coordination and work limits. The lesson I learned from this was that you should know very early in life what you want to become.
What is your current challenge at work?
The auto industry is a rough world with highly competitive industries. The most difficult challenge is to find the balance between your company’s objectives and the objectives of your business partners, which are normally suppliers in my case.
In the future the situation will not become easier, I fear. Maintaining respect for each other’s business is key.
What are the biggest obstacles facing women in the auto industry?
That’s a difficult question and I want to focus on Europe with my answer. The auto industry offers a broad variety of chances for women and men. But women are still limited in their chances to have a career, because in many management jobs you need a technical background to keep all opportunities open. In Germany, for example, few women decide to pursue an engineering degree.What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry?
Engineering jobs have to become more attractive to women. Ford makes many efforts to get young women interested in technical jobs.
For example we took part in the annual “Girls’ days,” which provide girls with an impression of jobs at a carmaker. We also support a women’s engineering panel where women from our Ford product development department are cooperating with universities to try to attract more women to Ford.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in the auto industry?
If you want to work for a global company that has very emotional products, you have chosen the right industry. Look for a personal mentor very early and say loud and be clear about what you want to become.
Are women pushed toward marketing and communications and discouraged from engineering and other technical jobs?
I do not think they are pushed. I believe it is a consequence of their education. Most women do not have an engineering degree and therefore are not considered for management jobs in product development or production. But those jobs are key to the auto industry. If more women had engineering backgrounds, they would improve their chances in the car business.
What subject affecting women in this industry is not being talked about enough?
Nothing comes to my mind that is gender specific. To get a management position means a significant personal commitment and little leisure time. Everybody should ask himself or herself if he or she would like to commit to these demands of permanent pressure and high responsibility.
What do you do to relax?
I love to spend most of my leisure time on my boat that is in Michigan. Also I love to run and enjoy reading very much, but never have enough time for it.