To celebrate this year's International Women's Day, GKN spoke to some of its female engineers and asked about their experience as a woman in the engineering industry.
Meet Katrin Papenfuss, Vice president of Quality and Risk Management All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) /eDrive in GKN Driveline, Zwickau, Germany.
Last year, Katrin Papenfuss was named as as one of the 25 leading women in the European automotive sector by leading automotive publication Automotive News Europe. Her path in the automotive industry started as an apprentice back in 1984.
“My parents chose this for me; however, after more 30 years in this business, I have to say it was the right choice. It has been an extremely rewarding career; challenging yet with great benefits.” Now she is leading a global team to ensure a proactive safety and quality culture in seven plants across five countries.
Self-confidence is key to success
Katrin attributes her success to self-confidence, staying open minded and taking charge of her own decisions. Nearly 20 years ago she worked as the deputy quality manager at another automotive supplier. After two of her previous bosses leaving in a row, she gathered her courage and suggested to the company’s owner that he make her the permanent quality manager. “He was surprised but decided to give me the job. It was very difficult at this point, but I learned how to survive.”
Leading by example at GKN
“We always think a current issue is our biggest challenge, but somehow you survive, learn and move to the next level. I think that’s the real challenge: learning lessons, moving forward and not being afraid of the next major challenge. I believe doors are already open. GKN, for example, has gotten rid of roadblocks and we now have some great female role models. It’s up to the women to pass through the open doors. I realize that might sound easy, but isn’t. There are a lot of variables to consider, such as what’s best for the family and whether the woman’s partner is committed. I advise providing an early honest & individual experience. We need to make them feel welcome, awake their enthusiasm and inspire their own confidence. I also try to lead by example and know that’s the most effective way to encourage more women to join the industry.”
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