Inspiring Woman in Fleet: Katharina Riedl (Mercedes-Benz)
“Women today are braver and more empowered”
Katharina Riedl, International Key Account Manager (Mercedes-Benz Cars)
Katharina Riedl was born and raised in Stuttgart. This charming city in southern Germany is known as ‘Benz-Town’, for it is the spiritual home and commercial headquarters of Mercedes-Benz, one of the world’s most iconic car manufacturers. As a native Stuttgarter, she has a special relationship with the brand with the three-pointed star. For Katharina, it was more than a fascination; it was a calling: “I’ve always had this passion for cars, and for the automotive industry. It was clear to me that I wanted to be a part of that world…”
… and in Stuttgart, that means Mercedes-Benz. How did you get started?
“At first, with a traineeship. Then I worked for the Mercedes-Benz taxation department for five years. In that role, I started missing the direct link to our product, so I started looking for a new job that would provide me with it. And I found it in sales. Back then, the International Corporate Sales department was looking for someone to join their sales support team. I got the job, and for me it was a perfect match: lots of cars, lots of customers, from lots of different cultures.”
An exciting opportunity, but in a very male-dominated environment. How did you find it?
“In the beginning, it felt tough to be heard. I recognised that I was only brave enough to raise my voice when I felt 100% confident of what I was saying. However, I soon realized that I did not have to be afraid or intimidated by my male colleagues, or by our male clients. As the saying goes: They also put their trousers on one leg at a time (laughs). We’re not that different.”
We’re not that different, but women do bring something special to the table, wouldn’t you agree?
“Absolutely, yes. As I see it, one advantage of women in the workplace is their emphasis on empathy. I think women are more attuned to the emotional needs of their colleagues and clients. We can bring higher levels of emotional intelligence to the workplace.”
“I also observe that women are often quite skilled at building relationships and fostering collaboration. This can only be good for openness and cooperation. Overall, having gender diversity in the workplace is a benefit to organisations. It’s exactly this diversity that brings together the unique strengths and talents of different types of people.”
Workplaces are more diverse than a few years ago. Has that changed anything?
“There are indeed more women on the work floor, and especially in managerial positions. It seems that we – and by ‘we’ I mean companies – have finally understood and internalized the notion that diversity is super important. It helps us get a greater variety of views on relevant topics. And that helps us rethink what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it.”
“How that has changed things? For women, I feel we’re now more empowered, and braver. And for society as a whole, there’s more openness and mutual understanding.”
Knowing what you know now, what would you advise your younger self starting out in your career?
“Be kind and friendly to everyone. Be interested. Never stop learning and working on yourself. And above all: have faith in yourself, and don’t make yourself smaller than you are.”
Looking back on your career so far, what are you particularly proud of?
“My transformation from assistant to manager. And keeping my feet on the ground!
Combining a career with being a woman, wife and/or mother is harder than doing the same as a man, husband and/or father. At least, that’s often said. How is it for you?
“I’m blessed with my partner, family and job. There’s a lot of mutual understanding in every direction, so we always find a suitable and satisfying solution, no matter what the case may be.”
Final questions: Who’s your hero? And what’s your motto?
“My hero? In general, my mom. Because she manages to combine what satisfies her with what benefits society. And at work: my colleague Scott. He always makes my day.”
“As for my motto, here’s what I believe: Go with the flow. Expect nothing. Accept everything. And make the best of it.”
|Current position||International Key Account Manager Mercedes-Benz Cars (since July 2021)|
|Previous roles||Administrative Assistant International Taxation and Fiscal Matters (2010-15), |
Sales Support International Corporate Sales Mercedes-Benz (2015-21),
both at Mercedes-Benz AG
For more portraits and interviews with Inspiring Women in Fleet, click here