MAN Truck & Bus
There are a few numbers that can be used to gauge MAN’s progress in regard to gender equality in 2021. There’s the number 14, for instance. Or 44. Fourteen women were among the people at MAN promoted to executive roles this year. The proportion of women appointed to such positions for the first time was 44%. These new advances towards gender equality mean that MAN is now also distancing itself from the vexed number of 11: That was previously the share of women in executive roles – just 11%.
The number of female executives has already increased and the first steps towards future targets have already been taken: The aim is to have 20% of management positions filled by women by 2024, a figure which is set to increase to 30% by 2030. That’s a remarkable development for a traditionally male-dominated company like MAN.
Now a lot of things are focusing on the number 50: Fifty percent of people newly appointed to management roles are expected to be women in the coming years. “That’s the only way we’ll be able to achieve our targets for gender equality. We simply have to catch up, and we will,” says Bernd Osterloh, Chief Human Resources Officer and Labour Director at MAN.
MAN has therefore not least committed itself to achieving one of the United Nations’ key sustainability goals: gender equality. But the percentage of women in management is merely a metric to help understand and comprehend the overall situation. “Regardless of gender and other criteria, it’s also about enabling a balance between professional demands and personal challenges. That would be true gender equality at all levels and make our company more diverse and thus more successful because it would help us utilise a broad range of perspectives,” says Osterloh.
It is at this point, however, that MAN’s commitment starts to extend far beyond gender equality: The company is striving for diversity in a very comprehensive sense and doesn’t only wish to promote such different aspects of diversity as religion and ideology, social origin and even sexual orientation, it’s also hoping that it will be able to take advantage of it for future business success. Implementing these goals ‘makes the company more innovative, agile and dynamic and therefore increases its competitiveness’ reads the section of TRATON’s annual report dedicated to MAN’s diversity targets.
The following introduces four ambitious women who are making a career for themselves in MAN’s management. They’re making a remarkable contribution to the company’s success.
It’s not about gender, it’s about qualifications.
Our team represents a cross-section of society. And that needs to be reflected at management level.
I like to help employees develop, make decisions and assume the responsibility that goes with it.
Things were a lot more analogue when Yvonne Golletz started at MAN in autumn 2018 after years of working at an accounting firm and in the aerospace industry. The graduate business lawyer joined the company as a team leader. She and her team worked on such issues as the free trade agreement and other trade policy measures for the purposes of facilitating MAN’s foreign trade relations and consequently avoiding unnecessary duty charges.
That was at a time when MAN still used lots of paper to manage its information flows. But that was to change with Yvonne Golletz and her team. “The task was to make managing foreign trade highly efficient,” says Yvonne Golletz who is able to look back on a successful journey. Anyone having to deal with the issues today will find themselves involved in a process that is as digitalised and automated as could be. “We were in this way able to make a significant contribution towards securing and improving profitability and competitiveness on a sustained basis,” says Yvonne Golletz. She completed MAN’s internal management training programme at the same time and is now looking ahead to a future in which she’ll also be involved in completely different areas. “It was very clear to me that I wanted to move toward human resources management,” she says. “I like to help employees develop, make decisions and assume the responsibility that goes with that.” Yvonne Gollitz is now the head of the department for customs and export control – and is able to do just that.
Would she have ever thought that one day there’d be a woman managing human resources at MAN’s production plants in Munich and Wittlich? And that she would be that woman? “Becoming an executive was beyond my wildest dreams,” says Kristina Schönhals talking about the time after that 2010 when she joined MAN to work in recruiting. “There weren’t many female executives who could have served as role models. So I didn’t give it any thought for myself. I simply wanted to contribute to the company’s success and achieve personal growth with each new function and challenge,” she says. But things turned out differently for Kristina Schönhals, who was born in Kazakhstan and studied cultural history, psychology and law at the University of Munich.
After another stint in personnel and executive development, she made a conscious and active decision to enter human resources at the truck-assembly division. The tasks she faced as a personnel officer and later on as a senior officer with responsibility for the technical coordination of a small team helped her advance both professionally and personally. The opportunity then arose to assume responsibility for human resources for production as a whole. She acquired her management license and is now in a position to drive very significant issues forward. “We need to at last recognise and actively promote the value of diversity and variety. Our team represents a cross-section of society and that should also be reflected at management level. And I’m happy to work towards this goal,” says Kristina Schönhals.
What is gender equality?
“Gender equality is not just a fundamental human right – achieving it also promises to deliver huge socio-economic benefits. Strengthening the role of women constitutes the foundation to drive productivity and growth forward towards a thriving economy. Gender inequalities are, however, deeply rooted in all societies. Women lack access to humane work and face occupational segregation and lower pay than men. They’re too often denied basic education and health care. Women across the world are victims of violence and discrimination. They are under-represented in political and economic decision-making.”
What was that? An almost entirely male-dominated production department? But not where the new production strategy and transformation is concerned. Because Özge Sümer-Tezgör is now responsible for coordinating and implementing these two aspects of production. And she’s working with her team to ensure that production is fit for the future. Is it something special that a woman is doing this type of work? “It's not about gender, it’s about qualifications,” says Sümer-Tezgör. She holds three Master’s degrees – in Management, Industrial Engineering and Business Administration (MBA) – and brings the experience of living and working in three different countries to her role.
She originally hails from Turkey and has studied in the USA, among other places. She worked in the defence industry in Turkey before joining MAN in Ankara to take charge of a bus project. She relocated in 2015 to Munich for personal reasons – without speaking a word of German, yet immediately with a project-management position at MAN. She quickly learned the language and progressed from the role of lead for the production department into management as part of the transformation programme. Sümer-Tezgör thinks such careers are quite normal for women: “I've always worked in a male-dominated industry and never had a problem being a woman,” she says. “In my experience, gender never mattered.”
It’s one of those designations for a department that typically crops up in engineering: ‘Electric / Electronic Validation ADAS & Automation’ is its name and you have to be a bit of an expert to understand that it’s about validating the software that’s used in driver assistance functions and for automating driving. Eva Karrer-Müller was appointed head of this department in September and she says about her new role: “It’s one of the most exciting topics for the future. I’m very happy to be actively involved and to be able to shape it.wasn’t always clear that she’d end up working in this field. The graduated physicist decided to leave basic research behind and ‘work on a real-life product’, as she says. She’s now doing just that at MAN’s development department and – following a stint as assistant to the board of directors and a doctorate in mechanical engineering – she’s now heading her second team, currently with two women and seven men, nine members in all.
Being one of few women among many men is something that Eva Karrer-Müller has been accustomed to since her days at university. “I don’t even notice it any more,” she says. She takes a pragmatic view: Her contacts are simply more often men than not. But she has many different role models – whether they’re men or women – as executives. Looking back, Eva Karrer-Müller notes: “It might be the case that I’m working in a field that’s mostly male-dominated. But even as a woman, you have to work for your opportunities and then be pro-active in taking advantage of them.”