Change and transformation present new opportunities
Change and transformation mean not only new challenges but also, above all, new opportunities and possibilities. It is these that we are focusing on and showing how Audi supports its employees’ individual strengths. We are fostering a culture that encourages all Audi employees to continue learning and to take new paths together.
We give our employees the freedom to improve their skills, to follow new career paths and to actively help shape Audi’s future and its transformation.
Audi employees on new career paths
As knowledge holders and decision-makers, our employees are the heart of Audi and the key to its success. Here we profile three individuals who have changed careers, are working in future-facing roles and who are hugely committed to driving forward the company’s transformation. They tell us what challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
Restructuring an entire business unit, including new processes, is a major challenge. Linda Noll takes on this challenge.
She is a "change enabler" at the Neckarsulm site, supporting the change process. As a direct contact, she is very close to the mood in the plant. She talks to the production managers and discusses solutions.
From software service provider to Group IT
Continual change, contact with people and working with products – these have always been the professional priorities of the native of North Hesse. Following her studies in economics, she made her first contact with the Volkswagen Group while working as a junior consultant for a software service provider. She made a good impression on her customers from the automotive industry, resulting in her moving to Ingolstadt in 2010 and launching her career at Audi in the Group IT department.
“It wasn’t my dream job, though. My goal from the beginning was actually to advance topics together with other people,” Noll said. So she took advantage of the flexibility of a major corporation, switched fields of work for the second time, became a trainer for Audi’s production system in Neckarsulm – and soon she was working all over the world. “I’ve worked with the staff on assembly lines from Neckarsulm and Brussels to Győr, Changchun, Foshan, Aurangabad, Anchieta, Curitiba and Sant’Agata Bolognese to optimize production processes, I’ve held trainings and workshops, and I’ve learned about a lot of different cultures.” She even developed a training concept for the production of small-scale series. “It was fun to teach employees the tools of the trade and make their everyday work lives easier.”
When shopfloor management (SFM) was introduced at Audi, she participated in the first group that trained to become SFM process coaches. Her goal was to help managers in Neckarsulm to optimize collaboration between management and staff levels and to achieve a better connection between strategic goals and operative processes.
In 2017, she privately took even more training to become a holistic coach. “In addition to professional and technical advancement, this was mainly about the person as a whole,” Noll said. In 2018, she became the head of the “Process Optimization Production A8” department and assumed responsibility. Following the cancellation of this position due to the reorganization, her expertise as a manager now helps her with her new job, for which she and her “change enabler” colleagues from the other P departments by taking several workshops.
Looking back, Noll had this to say: “I’ve gotten a ton of opportunities in my career at Audi to tap new fields of work, personally develop myself and find my professional strengths in the fields of training and coaching. Changes are a real chance – of this I’m convinced.“
A different kind of training: After almost three years in project management, Moritz Grief decided on a special kind of further training: the jobXchange program.
The Audi employee swapped his previous job for one at Audi Consulting for two years. This included training courses to make him fit for his new job. The goal: to get to know his own company from a new perspective and to further his personal and professional development.
“Before the program, I mainly knew the Technical Development department. But I wanted to see other departments in order to better understand the company. The jobXchange program fitted perfectly to that end,” Grief said. The program’s content and advanced training measures were individually tailored to him and his abilities. Before he even started he and his new supervisor and program mentor worked together to define goals and compile an advanced training package. Grief decided on trainings in the fields of work methods and agile project management, which he completed before beginning the exchange. He attended a three-day “bootcamp” for management consultants, in which he learned about analysis, moderation and negotiation techniques, among other things.
As part of his exchange job, he worked for Audi Consulting. “It was a win-win situation. I benefitted from a wide-ranging qualification program, and I could simultaneously introduce my specialist knowledge from project management to the projects that we had with my old department, for instance,” the engineer said. On top of that, Grief’s new job provided him with a lot of contact points with all divisions, expanding his network within the company. Today he works as scrum master in the division „Advanced Driver Assistance System & Autonomous Driving" at Car.Software Org.
He admitted that job exchanges can also be more complicated in certain cases: “The biggest hurdle is your own post, because just like the employees, the position is also changing departments temporarily. So the tasks in the old department need to be compensated for. An initial chat with your supervisor is a good start.” Grief sees major potential in the exchange: “By changing perspectives, I took another step in my development and learned to think in a cross-departmental and cross-divisional way. Especially in times of transformation, programs like this help to broaden horizons and thus promote better collaboration company-wide.”
Turning your hobby into your profession? For many employees, this sounds like a faraway dream. But for Markus Weber, this dream came true.
But for Markus Weber, this dream came true. The 33-year-old used to inspect the A4 and A5 models. Since April 2018, he has worked in Reporting as a system administrator on a data platform that makes everyday work easier for his former colleagues.
It all began in 2017 with the introduction of a new project in Assembly. Weber's supervisor asked him if he would be interested in accompanying the kick-off and training the employees. The 33-year-old agreed. During the kick-off, Weber's programming skills became apparent. That's why his current boss gave him the opportunity to work as a programmer in a team − initially for a limited period of time. The qualified industrial electrician strongly believes that "I have to enjoy my work." That's why he took the opportunity, proved himself, and is now a permanent member of the team. The 33-year-old developed an interest in zeros and ones in his free time. Homepage programming, smart home, server control: Weber taught himself many things. Other things he learned in internal IT training courses that he had attended as an interiors inspector.
In the meantime, Weber has successfully mastered his first project: a platform that improves fault processing and bundles assessments centrally. This makes it easier for his former colleagues to keep an overview. Weber is pleased: "I have the feeling that I can have a big impact here." Since March 2018, he has been doing a part-time distance learning course to become a technician for information and communication technology in order to be ready for the next steps in the world of data.
Despite the obstacles, Nadine Stickel could not be dissuaded from her goal. She always wanted to work as a teacher, but had studied BWL. Thanks to her further education, she now works in Audi Transformation Plan program management and also teaches as a lecturer at a university.
"Is this the job I want to do forever?" This is what Nadine Stickel asked herself four years ago. The 44-year-old was working in planning for the production network at Audi, although she had previously wanted to become a teacher and do "something with people". So, the qualified business economist decided to take things in a new direction. With success: Today she is in charge of the organization and personnel in Audi Transformation Plan program management and also teaches as a lecturer at the CampusM21 university in Munich. But the road getting there was rough.
The people around her were critical and skeptical. "You want to start over again at your age?" But Nadine Stickel didn’t let them put her off. She applied to become a certified teacher for training and further education at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) – and was accepted. As a "stranger" to this field, this was unusual: the others in her course were already working as trainers for various companies. So was teaching really the right thing for her?
To find out, Stickel also managed to bag a teaching position at the CampusM21 university in Munich. In addition to her full-time job at Audi and further training, this meant a triple burden. The trained tax assistant even used her vacation time to prepare for the exams. She remembers: "Sometimes I thought it was all just too much, and that I was ready to throw in the towel." Luckily, she didn't.
Taking new perspectives
Her current boss took notice of the Audi employee − he had a new, suitable position with a focus on organization and personnel. No sooner said than done: Nadine Stickel took the job, gradually familiarized herself with the tasks involved, completed her further training as one of the best in her class, and built up the "Automotive Industry and Transport Policy" module for the "Business Management" course at the university. "The young people approach the topics without bias, so we exchange new impulses for company experience". One of the students has already completed an internship in her department, with very good results, while a second student has just come on board. The 44-year-old is proud and convinced that, "the exchange with the talents is valuable for Audi. In the long term, my goal is to start a real cooperation."
The new perspectives and contacts can help Audi in its transformation. She wants to "inspire and captivate people", introduce new working methods together, and establish functioning processes. Of course, you also have to become more efficient, says the training and further education teacher. "Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of the meaning of making Audi fit for the future. And that includes a workforce that enjoys working here." She has a positive outlook on the associated challenges: "Change is what drives me".
Armed forces, IT system planner, agile coach – what sounds like three different career paths, Armin Keim combined into one.
After his occupation as an officer he has started in the IT at Audi. However, his path leads him even further. Steep hierarchies and agile work methods – do they contradict each other? Armin Keim has tried out both systems during his career.
At 19, he struck out on his professional path in the hierarchical armed forces (Bundeswehr). He initially pursued the rank of an officer, but after his three-year training, he set his sights on a new goal. He decided to pursue his interest in programming and obtain a degree in IT.
After leaving the military, he immediately joined Audi as a system planner. “That job was a lot of fun. But my everyday work life was heavily influenced by classical processes. They demanded a lot of time and didn’t allow much flexibility,” Keim said. This brought him face-to-face with a fundamental problem: “The demand for IT was increasing enormously and becoming more and more important for the company’s overall success. But the procedures for IT solutions were old, they often took too long, and they weren’t customer-oriented.”
In 2013, Keim jumped at the chance to start a new experiment. Instead of setting about digitalizing paper-archiving processes in the classical style of “waterfall” project management, he chose an agile approach. His goal was to create new, more efficient work methods through flexible work, fewer hierarchies, and new responsibility roles.
What does agile work mean?
Keim compares the difference between a waterfall model and an agile approach with the process of writing a book. With a classical approach, a book is completed and only then presented to the reader. “With an agile approach, on the other hand, the author formulates the first chapter and goes ahead and gives that to the reader. The reader’s feedback then influences all the following chapters. The customer is thus actively involved in the development of the solution.”
The new work method bore fruit and led to the desired solutions. Many smaller and larger projects followed throughout the year. During that time, Keim took an official advanced training on agile work methods. “This was still quite new back then. Now, there’s a training path for it at the Audi Academy.”
The role of the cultural driver
In Keim’s experience, an agile transformation can’t happen overnight. “Of course, it’s hard for an organization like Audi, which has functioned on the same pattern for decades, to let go of old standards.” But he’s convinced that an agile approach with openness and respect is crucial to the success of new collaboration models.
Looking back, Keim realizes that the jobs of officers and agile coaches aren’t diametrically opposed. During his 12-year occupation with the armed forces, he learned “to develop and implement solutions independently for predefined goals. That’s really helpful for agile work.” Today, the 49-year-old is happy to be able to professionally combine his personal development, these new forms of collaboration, and his passion for IT.