Teamwork for innovation
Traditionally, men tend to be overrepresented in companies in the steel sector. In response, Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe has had a strong commitment to skilled and hardworking female employees for many years. We asked Valentina Berger and Nadia Schyma to explain how women can assert themselves successfully in the company.
Women and steel – where's the common denominator?
Nadia Schyma: Steel is very versatile – just like women. So they go together perfectly.
Valentina Berger: The steel sector is no longer a purely male preserve. In many areas, it's a question of brainpower, with the focus on quality planning, process control, and continuous improvement and innovation processes. To be good here you need the right skills, regardless of gender.
What do you find fascinating about your positions?
Berger: I can put my technical knowledge into practice every day and broaden my horizons. My duties are very varied, including everything from the processing of technical specifications, and customer and site visits through to participation in current R&D projects.
Schyma: I'm fascinated by the diversity of the people I meet as a result of the company's international outlook. Each project has its own demands, and this makes work really exciting.
Innovation has a tradition at Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe. What are the strengths of the company that you benefit from most?
Schyma: First and foremost, there's our manufacturing expertise and constant improvements in this area. In project business, responding closely to customer needs is of course very important. Only if you know the customer do you know where to improve.
Berger: In Technical Customer Advice, we benefit most by working really closely with our customers. This way we can respond to requests early on and offer our customers product and service packages tailored perfectly to their needs.
In what contexts do you produce your most innovative work?
Berger: I prefer working in really mixed teams. I work best together with customers and with experienced and young employees. The customer defines his needs, while young employees contribute new ideas and their older colleagues contribute their wealth of experience.
Schyma: A strong and dependable team is all-important in project business. Only when all areas pull together can the best results be achieved for the customer.
In 2010, I was given the chance to move to Technical Customer Advice. For me, this is the ideal combination of technology and dealing with people.Valentina Berger
What support do you get from the company so that you can fully exploit your potential in terms of performance and ideas?
Schyma: With the company's actively supported ideas management and with the freedom to act and work on our own initiative. Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe is a very attractive employer that invests heavily in the further training of its manpower.
Berger: By participating in a wide range of workshops, even Group-wide, we're given the chance to contribute in many areas. In the event of interest and the required competencies, it's then possible to be entrusted with the technical management of R&D projects.
I found project business exciting and challenging from the beginning. Today I work as the Regional Sales Manager for the Middle East, Libya and Egypt.Nadia Schyma
What was for you personally the biggest innovation since working for the company?
Schyma: Employee performance and initiative are more strongly encouraged and rewarded. The entire company has come a long way, and production has constantly improved and has become faster. We can now offer our customers timing and solutions that wouldn't have been possible only a few years back.
Berger: The introduction of the Zap-Lok® connection with all its special machining steps. I was there from the very first tests. It's great to see how we realize complex projects with elaborate coatings.
Ms. Schyma, you're a mother of a school-age daughter. And Ms. Berger, you had your first baby in 2012. How do you reconcile your family needs with the demands of your jobs?
Berger: My position, which frequently involves business trips and visits to customers at short notice, calls for flexibility from both sides. The offers of part-time and home office work are very helpful. But for my part, I have to be flexible when it comes to organizing childcare.
Schyma: Organization and time management are so important! I've built up an efficient network of parents, childminder and friends, and the school offers a very good student supervision system. I keep myself fit for the demands of work and family with regular sports.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for the future?
Berger: We have to tap the full potential of CIP, TPM and lean management so that we can convert them into innovative products and services for our customers.
Schyma: We have to meet the challenges of the markets, constantly improve our technical and organizational processes and build further on our competitive edge.