How did you get to ERICH JAEGER and which position did you take on?
Before ERICH JAEGER, I had gained seven years of experience as a design engineer after my training as a technician and was then looking for a new challenge. I applied in 1999 and started as a design engineer in the development department for components and systems.
What did you learn?
After leaving school, I trained as a technical draughtswoman specializing in mechanical engineering. Then, after a year of work experience, I graduated as a state-certified technician specializing in mechanical engineering.
What made you choose mechanical engineering back then?
It was more by chance. I actually wanted to go into the trades. But as it is with parents, they talked to me and pointed out the profession of technical draughtswoman as an alternative, due to potential physical disadvantages of women. The first application at that time at a company in Butzbach worked immediately and thus mechanical engineering was pre-programmed for the time being.
Would you pass on the advice your parents gave you to young girls today?
No, I would continue to advise women to go into the trades if they want to. The career choice should be independent of gender, but rather chosen based on a strong interest and one's own strengths.
You started at ERICH JAEGER as design engineer and are now working in project management...
When I started, there were no project managers at ERICH JAEGER. The development departments also took over the coordination for the realization of the product. Purchasing, work preparation, process planning, toolmaking, production, etc. was on site and so the distances were short and the coordination of the "project" was intuitive and easier to accompany. That's how I somehow slipped into project management and noticed that I really enjoyed it. I also did a lot of organizing in the soccer club back then. Over the course of time, I've really enjoyed the big picture of the project, the varied tasks, and working with our foreign locations and customers. The fact that I had previously worked as a design engineer helped me. Project management at our company is very technical and my experience has given me a better understanding of many issues.
What are your tasks as a project manager?
It includes the complete project planning. I am already involved in the request stage and I define the project. In the project costing the product is evaluated - what does it cost? How much material is needed? The complete project is planned and divided into work packages, interfaces with other sites and departments are defined. I deal with whether new tools are needed or whether there are new work processes that should be considered. Then I accompany the entire project implementation until the product is ready for series production and take over project controlling, check the quality, document time and costs. I also talk to customers and suppliers until the project is completed. Of course, project management doesn’t only mean "managing". It also means processing a large amount of work packages.
What is important in the job of a project manager?
You should definitely have a certain organizational talent and time management skills, be able to acquire product knowledge as well as company processes, and know the product development process from A to Z. In project management, it is important to have a certain leadership quality, because the project team has to be motivated and guided through the project. Sometimes conflicts need to be solved. It isn’t obligatory to know the product down to the last detail, but you do have to be familiar with it.
To what extent were you able to further your education at ERICH JAEGER?
Very well. Because I have gained experience in both areas, design and project management, I was also involved in sales activities for two to three years in between. So, I have experienced the pure customer perspective. In general, I enjoyed many trainings during my career at ERICH JAEGER and have been able to develop personally and professionally in all areas. I am also involved in standardization committees. This is a working group in which, for example, new connector interfaces are standardized or amendments to test specifications are reviewed, evaluated and defined.
Are international assignments part of your job?
Definitely. I've been to our production plants in China and the Czech Republic several times and visited many customers and suppliers in Europe, America and India.
How could you profit from foreign assignments?
Getting to know each other personally usually makes communication and cooperation easier. It is easier to have a discussion with someone if you have seen them before. Visits to the foreign sites led to quick clarification in the case of tool adaptations or design measures prior to tool production. The intensive exchange on site accelerates the project. Getting to know other countries and other customs is of course also a great thing and broadens personal horizons.
What are the most important lessons you have been able to take away during your career at ERICH JAEGER?
"Nothing is impossible." There is always a solution, even if the path to achieving the goal has to be adapted. Adapting or changing goals is not a defeat but holds new opportunities.
Which challenges and opportunities shaped you the most?
I have certainly become much more assertive, and also more relaxed in some situations. I've really internalized that over the years. The ability to judge character that I learned in project management helps me immensely when dealing with individual people. I didn't realize at first that the interpersonal level was so present in project management. At the beginning, I approached my work as a project manager in a rather businesslike manner, but then I quickly realized how important the interpersonal aspects are, such as motivating employees or mediating between colleagues.
What advice do you have for young professionals who want to start a career at ERICH JAEGER?
Be always open for new challenges. Don't just be aware of your own area, but also take an interest in the company's processes as a whole. This drives your own development and your own area of responsibility.