As a diverse employer who supports gender equality in the workplace, GKN spoke to some of its female engineers about their experience of being a woman in engineering.
Meet Karin Feuerbaum, Finance IS/IT Director Shafts & Services, at GKN Driveline in Lohamar, Germany.
Finance IS/IT Director Karin Feuerbaum hasn’t always focused only on Finance. For 12 years she was a goalkeeper for Borussia Dortmund, a first league handball team in Germany. Participation in this sport gave Karin experience of the challenges of work-life balance. “Being a professional in those days involved combining your daily job and your sport. We practiced four-to-five times per week, and travelled at the weekend, at the same time holding down a job or completing studies at university. Women earnt much less than men doing this, and there is still room for improvement today.”
Supporting women in Engineering
When Karin moved into the world of engineering, she experienced similar challenges and is passionate about supporting change. “I grew up with two brothers in an industrial area. I never really struggled to work in industry, and even though I had a bad start in one of my first jobs because of discrimination, I would describe my overall experience more positive than negative. Male attitudes towards women are changing for the better but women still have a way to go before we achieve true equality. We have to support women to change this, motivate them to develop their career and show by example that this is an interesting area to work in. It`s about companies building the right framework to achieve this.”
GKN offers great opportunity for career growth
Karin joined GKN in 2002 in a junior role in financial controlling for GKN Powder Metallurgy and nine years later, having gained much cross functional experience, she was asked to move into GKN Land Systems to lead the financial integration of Stromag into GKN. “To bring a more mid-size structured German Company like Stromag into the environment of a big company like GKN was a challenging and interesting job for me. Handling cultural differences successfully was a big challenge. Within the first year the former CFO of Stromag left the business and I took over the lead as Finance Director of GKN Stromag Group. Organisational changes gave me the opportunity to develop into FD for all European operations sites in Land Systems. Then in 2016, I was involved in the successful sale of the Stromag Business to Altra Group.”
Having gone full circle with Stromag, Karin had the opportunity to move to Altra but opted to stay at GKN and is now Finance IS/IT Director Shafts & Services, GKN Driveline. “When choosing a company to work for, several topics are important. One of the most important factors are the people I`m working for and with. I look for a company with open culture and I had a good feeling when I first met some of the GKN leaders. I was not wrong in my impression when I look back many years now. The open-minded, respectful and safe culture of GKN makes this company a great place to work.”
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