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Robert Bosch

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CFO and Executive Vice President, Finance, Controlling and Administration, Robert Bosch
Farmington Hills, Mich.
Age: 51
Education: Industriekauffrau IHK, advanced business administration degree with thesis, Diplom-Kaufmann, University of Munich

What attracted you to the auto industry? I chose Bosch for its values and the people, but also it has the technology I was interested in. The auto industry and supplier industry are highly technical, more than people think. I could not work for a shampoo company.

First automotive job: In 1993, I was in a brakes plant in Blaichach, Germany, doing a trainee program through the Bosch Chassis Systems Management Development Program. You spend two years at different stations, and it is for future managers at Bosch.

Big break: There was not one single one. I have a tendency to say yes first to a new challenge and think after what it might entail, and this gave me a lot of opportunities.

What is the major challenge you've faced in your career? I've been working a lot with restructuring, and I think I am good at it. It is always a challenge because, in our company values, we want to be fair, open and honest with people. So regardless of how fair you do it, it is always a challenge. I like it now because I can be creative.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? My mother because she always told me I have to be independent. The sky is the limit. Within Bosch, my biggest influences are my sponsor and former boss. They are still the ones I talk to when I make decisions.

What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? The last 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry in Automotive News changed my life because I had never realized I am something special for other people. With that and my promotion to be CFO, I suddenly had feedback from women in the company and outside. I started seeing it as my obligation to do something with it. So being a role model, being out and visible and to show you can have a career in automotive, became important to me. I have been encouraging girls in the middle schools to stay in science, and I am an advocate for women in auto and technology.

Tell us about your family. I'm in a patchwork family. I have a partner, and together we have four boys — 12, 13, 14, 15. I have a family in Germany and make it a point to bring my sons there twice a year.

What's your favorite weekend activity? My sons and I travel a lot and go boating, camping and hiking. We are an outdoor family.

Are you able to maintain friendships? Yes, but I am very selective about them. The kind of friends I have — you can get together and it is like no time has passed. They are few and not acquaintances. I'm not an acquaintance person.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Winston Churchill. I'm a big fan of his because he was a very uncomfortable person, very outspoken and a great leader in a difficult time. He stuck to his personality no matter what. He was not likable.

What's your guilty pleasure? Shoes.

By Marti Benedetti

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