Jenny Xiang and Stefan Krug – two perfect examples of what it means to make a career at the international automotive supplier Brose. They both have their eyes on a single goal: making the cars of tomorrow even safer, more comfortable and more efficient. An interview about family-owned companies, responsibility and the great feeling of knowing you have the support you need to master virtually any personal challenge.
Ms. Xiang, Mr. Krug, you both joined Brose in Franconia more than 20 years ago. What made you decide to stay with the company for so long?
Stefan Krug: Brose is such a dynamic place to work; that impressed me right from the start. When I joined the company in 1998, we had eight locations; today there are 63 locations in 23 countries. Brose is dynamic – and systematic.
Our corporate culture is also marked by a genuine passion for delivering top performance. I enjoy working in an environment that encourages people to pull together to achieve a common vision. We want to design, implement and optimize – not administer. Brose promotes this attitude and combines performance and expertise – regardless of one’s age or place in the hierarchy. This opens up opportunities for everyone. And our success proves just how effective this philosophy is – even our customers confirm this. Worldwide, every second new vehicle is equipped with at least one of our products. I’m proud and motivated by this.
Jenny Xiang: Brose is a family-owned company – for me, Brose’s financial independence and ability to grow organically are major strengths. We can afford to make long-term investments. The objective is to reinforce and expand our technology and market leadership in mechatronic systems for vehicle doors and seats as well as electric motors and drives. Our employees are constantly working to achieve this aim. There’s no such thing as short-term “quarterly thinking” here at Brose.
Long-term instead of short-term – does this also benefit employees?
Stefan Krug: Yes, in many respects: above all, as managers we take the time to help them develop their skills and careers in a targeted way. I find our career path concept especially appealing. It is directed equally at both specialists and generalists. We place a lot of responsibility and trust in our people and present them with challenges. But we also give them the support they need to master these challenges.
Jenny Xiang: That’s exactly what I was looking for when I completed my degree in mechanical engineering in Germany: an employer that could offer me a long-range perspective – and responsibility. I wanted to play a key role in actively shaping the future of the company, not simply be the proverbial cog in the wheel. After just two years, I was assigned responsibility for helping establish our Chinese joint venture, Shanghai Brose Automotive Components. A major opportunity ...
… that you obviously handled with skill. Now you are the President of Brose China. Are employees in China different than employees in Germany?
Jenny Xiang: Women and men from 14 nations work together at our headquarters in Shanghai. Naturally, there are cultural differences. Young, well-trained Chinese want to learn new skills and gain experience quickly. Here, changing employers frequently is quite common. However, we have still succeeded in keeping employee turnover lower than the market average. I believe this is due to the many diverse training and development programs we offer. Employees don’t need to change employers in order to grow.
Stefan Krug: Many Brose employees – in China, North America or Germany – remain loyal to their company. I think the very good working conditions we have in all of our locations play a decisive role here. This starts with a functional working environment, flexible working hours and plenty of personal freedom. It continues with the opportunity to gain international experience.
Our expatriate assignment program includes intercultural training, language courses and much more for employees and their families. There’s also another key advantage here: Brose pays its employees based on their performance, not the time they spend sitting in an office, and allows them to share in the company’s success.
What skills and experience do candidates need to be a good fit for Brose?
Jenny Xiang: The desire to accept responsibility and grow along with the company.
Stefan Krug: Openness, flexibility, commitment. Our goal is to continually improve. To do this, we must constantly question our existing thinking and be willing to embark on new paths. Strong team spirit is also an absolute must. I just got back from our Brose Soccer Championships held at the American plants in Mexico. You could really feel the competitive spirit among Brose employees, that they view themselves as a strong team, respect one another and truly enjoy the rich cultural diversity.
Many thanks for this interview
About the interviewees
As President of Brose China, Jenny Xiang is responsible for business activities in this key growth market. The 50-year-old studied mechanical engineering at the University of Dortmund. She began her career at Brose as an industrial engineer for Door Systems in Hallstadt. Two years later, she helped establish the Shanghai Brose Automotive Components joint venture.
Stefan Krug is responsible for Brose production sites in the US, Canada and Mexico. The 55-year-old studied mechanical and industrial engineering. Before he started his career at Brose as an assistant to the management board, he worked as a department head at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg’s Institute for Factory Automation and Production Systems.