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1. Katrin, you are the first female Plant Manager in Manufacturing Tires. When did you take over the position? Which are your responsibilities?
I became the Head of the ContiLifeCycle in January 2017. My main responsibility is, beside the operational work, to lead the whole CLC Stöcken team from the ramp-up phase into the stabilization phase. While the main focus during the ramp-up phase was to get the production up and running and get the volume out according to the forecast, the focus now is shifting to get the production processes on a stable and reliable level while fostering a continuous improvement culture.
2. Which are the main milestones of your professional development? What did you do to drive your career?
I started my career at Deutsche Bahn, by completing my apprenticeship as a mechatronics engineer and later got my German Diploma in Mechatronics and a Master of Science in Automotive Engineering in England. In Continental, my first stop was the R&D Trainee Pool in 2006. For the following three years I developed truck tires, before going to the Petaling Jaya plant in Malaysia as a Product Industrialization Team Leader. Back in Hanover, I made a detour to Büttnerstraße for two years in the BU Replacement EMEA PLT, as the CBS Business Unit Coach. Next up, I became the Head of Manufacturing Service for Truck Tires and Retread under Thierry Wipff, and was responsible for planning all investments in truck and retread tire plants worldwide (including Expansions, technology, ESH and quality requirements). Now, I’m here, heading the ContiLifeCycle plant in Stöcken.
3. Which is your vision of the ContiLifeCycle plant in 5 years?
My vision for the CLC plant is that we, as a highly passionate and fully engaged team producing sustainably and cost efficiently, innovative hot retread tires of excellent quality for our satisfied customers. Thereby, we strongly contribute to the profitable growth of the CLC Business in EMEA.
One strong focus will be put on our people; we want to constantly increase and improve the level of our safety awareness and “For one Another” will be THE core value we want to concentrate on. Besides that, we need to achieve greater transparency in our cost structure to identify inefficiencies and waste, allowing us to eliminate them and become cost-competitive.
4. Which is your personal leadership philosophy?
From my perspective, being people-oriented and fostering employee development is one of the most important aspects. When you are a manager, you no longer worry about your own development; you focus on the development of your employees instead. Your own development then takes care of itself. That’s why in my new function in the CLC plant, the first issues I am dealing with are occupational safety, and the sickness absence rate. My focus for 2017 is ensuring that people enjoy coming here and feel well at work.
As I’m familiar with many different units, I have a large network and see things from many different perspectives. I believe this can bring in a breath of fresh air here to the CLC plant. And I’m really happy that my boss, Thierry Wipff, gives me the freedom to develop as a person, as well.
5. Do you think there is a difference between male and female leadership style? Why?
I don’t think that differentiating the leadership style only between male and female would be fair, as the leadership style is more dependent on the person’s character traits, which I believe are more or less independent of gender.
6. Which was the biggest challenge in your career path?
The biggest challenge for me was to find my way in the professional environment. I knew that the industry could offer me a lot, but what was the right one? There is no engineer in my family, whom I could ask for advice, although it turned out very early in my life that I enjoyed mathematics and physics a lot. I needed to find myself after more than a year full of different internships, to learn that mechanical and electrical engineering was something I was really passionate about. That’s how I ended up in the apprenticeship as a mechatronics engineer.
7. In your function as Plant Manager you have a lot of responsibilities and have to be very flexible with working time. Has your family always been supporting you?
I’m lucky to have a partner who has always had my back and been supportive. He quit his job for us to be together in Malaysia. This was a good decision, because we got married in Bali at this time. Our son was born in 2014 and my husband stayed at home for more than 2 years, primarily to take care of him. Our son turned everything upside down not only at home, but also in the Continental Kindergarten. One year ago, my family and I moved into our home in Neustadt – to settle down, at least for now.
Katrin Reinecke was born in Hagen in the Ruhr Valley and – naturally – is a Borussia Dortmund fan through and through. Her youth was shaped by football and basketball. Her desire to travel to other countries and her thirst for adventure tie in with her passion for Formula 1. Before joining Continental, she worked in Melbourne, Australia for some time and also studied in Birmingham, England.