How long have you been working at ERICH JAEGER and what are you responsible for?
I’ve been working here since September 2005 and am Head of Development for the entire JAEGER Group. Alongside general technical matters, my focus is on the development of new products and pre-development.
What brought you to ERICH JAEGER?
I did my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in China and then worked there for two years. After that, I decided to do my master's degree in engineering in Germany and, having completed it, I started looking for a job in the Darmstadt and Frankfurt area. That’s how I came across ERICH JAEGER.
Tell us a little about your career at ERICH JAEGER.
Well, I started as a component designer in 2005, designed some new products, managed some projects and coordinated the cooperation with our production site in China. In the two years from 2008 to 2009, I did an MBA in my spare time, half of which was paid for by ERICH JAEGER. In 2009, I had the opportunity to switch and further streamline production in China. For example, I moved into cost planning and defined goals for the modernization of the factory. During this time, I was going to China up to 8 times a year as a project manager and was sent on many training courses. I’ve been repeatedly involved in China-related issues ever since and, after 2014, I was given the chance to take on more responsibility as a member of the Board of Directors of our joint venture in China (Jaeger Poway Automotive Aystems (Shenzhen) ltd.). This gave me experience of management activities, and I lived full-time in China for two years from 2016 as CEO to enable me to get more closely involved in shaping the development of our production there. And since 2018 I’ve been Head of Development for the entire JAEGER Group.
How did you benefit from your work at Jaeger Poway?
For one thing, I gained a much broader perspective. I was the CEO of one of our subsidiaries, which meant that I got to talk a lot with my bosses and was given some helpful hints. This allowed me to develop my leadership skills. As a project manager, I’d already taken on a lot of responsibility, but a management role as a director is a completely different proposition. I also learned a lot about culture during my time in China. Although I come from China, going back there still took some getting used to. I experienced a kind of reverse cultural shock and had to get used to Chinese culture again (laughs). But most importantly, I learned that every person is the same inside. Every person should be respected and treated fairly, regardless of position and title. If you spend all your time in one country, there’s a lot that you only get superficial experience of. But actually visiting the factory and talking to the people there over a longer period of time trains you in compassion and mutual understanding.
E-mobility and self-driving vehicles are crucial long-term developments which also affect ERICH JAEGER. How will the company be influenced by this trend in the future?
The transition in the automotive sector is also affecting us. One increasingly important question has been that of data transmission between towing vehicles and trailers. We’re already working on a few projects here. We have to ask ourselves where our niche market is and where profitable business might lie. And that's where we have to define our strategy. We’ve reached some important milestones in high-speed data transmission – specifically for trailer connectors and automotive Ethernet. This isn’t easy, and you need a clear road map to guide your activities over a number of years. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re well on the way.
What’s your advice for career starters who are interested in a career with the JAEGER Group?
Be open to taking on jobs with a lot of facets.