Maximiliane Straub, 46
CFO and Executive Vice President, Controlling, Finance and Administration, Robert Bosch LLC
Why did you want to work in the auto industry? It was not the auto industry that appealed to me; it was Bosch. The people I met during the interview process, their values and the way they were working -- it was very impressive. Bosch has a very good name in Germany, where I started to work, in regard to their values, integrity and the quality of their products, so it was very interesting to me to work for a company with an excellent name.
First automotive job: In a Bosch brake plant in 1993 as a controller.
Proudest professional achievement: I will not name the company because it is one of our customers, but we had a project which was very, very challenging because there was a cultural difference. It was a new customer with new processes, different standards, and it was very hard to learn everything. We made mistakes, but in the end we were very successful in bringing the [braking] product to market. We still are on zero problems per million two years after bringing it into production. What makes me proud here is we were able to adjust and adapt.
Current challenge at work: We all have the same challenge right now -- to deal with the recession without forgetting about growth.
Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for female executives? I would not only put it in the automotive industry. When I look back on my career, it was very significant when I went to university. I studied with a focus on production and logistics. I was one female out of 89 students. When I looked over to the marketing class, it was 95 percent women and 5 percent men. So already, everything which was highly manufacturing-oriented and technology-oriented was still not that interesting for women. And we still see that when we hire. It is shifting, but it is shifting slowly.
On everyone knowing her name: If you work in an industry where it's male-dominated, when you come to meetings, like when we have executive meetings, there will only be a few women and mostly men. So your name is always known by everybody, and you don't know the names of all the others.
What you do to relax: I spend as much time as I can with my children. We go hiking, fishing and camping. I'm an outdoor-boys mother.
-- Ryan Beene