In a still men-dominated industry, we do have very successful and inspiring women at our company who we want to introduce in our new series "Women at JOST". The first portrait is about Waltraud Matzenberger, our President Asia, currently living in Shanghai. She explains what has been her biggest professional challenge so far and how she managed it!
JOST: Please briefly outline your professional career.
Matzenberger: After graduating in business administration, I started directly in the commercial vehicle industry at NEOPLAN where I first worked in internal sales, but was quickly given the management of the branch in Austria. I was able to gain further professional experience in the commercial vehicle industry in Germany at SCANIA and MAN before I made a conscious decision to change industries in 2008: I worked for the GOLDBECK and Greiner Group in the construction/project business with a focus on renewable energy. After that I came to JOST and thus back to the commercial vehicle industry!
JOST: How did you come to JOST and why did you stay at our company?
Matzenberger: In 2015, I joined JOST and found a medium-sized, internationally active company with a non-owner-managed structure and a very impressive CEO, Lars Brorsen. In addition, I noticed that there are personalities working here who act down-to-earth, approach this with great skill, diligence and perseverance, and are proud to have created something great. In addition to the technical task as Head of Trailer Europe and the post-merger integration of axle production, these were decisive points, that it is not only the product or the industry in which I find myself, but that I get along with the people. In January 2018, I received an offer from JOST to move to Shanghai as President Asia. As I am responsible in particular for China, India, Far East, Japan and Korea, I deal with very different markets, customers, employees and cultures. At the time, these were also the incentives why I decided to go to Asia as a manager. This also included getting to know and understand the special features of the very different Asian markets, defining and introducing new strategic directions and generating profitable growth for JOST. After more than three years, I haven’t regretted this decision and today I would do it the same way.
JOST: What has been your biggest professional challenge so far and how did you manage it?
Matzenberger: From my point of view, there are always challenges you have to deal with in your career. Looking back, I can say that I have experienced many interesting, exciting and sometimes difficult tasks. One big and striking challenge for me was when I was given the task of managing male employees who had previously worked at the same level and I was a relatively young female manager. But the older I have become, the more this has changed.
Another major professional challenge was the decision to go to Asia. On the one hand, the challenge is to generate profitable and healthy growth for JOST here in Asia. On the other hand - the second big challenge - how do I manage to understand and pick up people in these foreign cultures. Before I went to Asia I had an intercultural training and that helped me that I could at least begin to understand how employees and customers think and act. The last major professional challenge so far was and is dealing with Corona. In particular, our production plant in Wuhan was very affected by the 8-week lockdown.
JOST: What do you do to relax after a day at work?
Matzenberger: Go home, put on my gym clothes and just go for a run. After work I might be tense and charged up, sometimes with positive, sometimes with negative feelings, then I put on my running shoes. Running helps me to process and reflect on a lot of things.
JOST: What advice would you give young women on how to assert themselves in a management position in the automotive industry?
Matzenberger: The automotive industry is still a male-dominated world - I often experienced this myself at a young age and it wasn't always easy. In my mid-thirties, my experiences had brought me to the point where I had developed my way of dealing with people. Consistency, reliability, actively approaching people, the ability to work in a team and the willingness to go over the red line - you could also say sometimes over the pain threshold - have helped me to find my role in this man's world.
Tip: If you want to convey important things, think about how you want to convey it, stand up and say, this is my opinion now. It shouldn't seem like your opinion is the only correct one but stand by what you say. Stay completely authentic - the point is to show what you want to move in the company. Then you will find your way!