From the fashion industry to the automotive sector? That was precisely the path chosen by Franziska Köber. Today, as part of the "Compliance, Integrity & Sustainability" team within "International Procurement Services" (IPS), she works to ensure that suppliers comply with our values with respect to human rights. In an interview, the native of Düsseldorf explains what motivated her to switch industries, and what she loves about Daimler.
Franziska, you have been working for Daimler since April 2019. How do you like it here?
It's a bit overwhelming! It all started with the welcome on the first day. I was greeted at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, together with about 300 other new colleagues. That was a new dimension for me. I had already had the opportunity to get to know my team, having previously been invited to a small celebration within the team. This meant that I encountered a lot of familiar faces when I started, which naturally made things a lot easier.
Why did you decide to transfer from the clothing industry to Daimler?
I started off as a textile engineer, and held various different positions in procurement at a fashion group. But then I started looking for a job that would allow me to make a change in society. And Daimler was advertising the position in the procurement of non-production materials in Compliance Management with a focus on "human rights". As we know, Daimler has a great sense of responsibility, and high standards for its products and values. I found it very easy to identify with this positive corporate philosophy, and applied immediately.
I was looking for a job that would allow me to make a change in society
Human rights, that sounds challenging. What do you do?
Daimler expects its suppliers around the world to observe and promote human rights, for example with respect to working conditions or equality between the sexes. And I work to ensure that our direct suppliers comply with our standards. Constructive dialog is very important in this regard. It is always a question of supporting our suppliers and developing the partnership. If my efforts can help make the world more fair then I have achieved my personal goal.
How do you go about this, and what are you working on at the moment?
Together with our buyers, we conduct a general discussion on topics relating to sustainability with our suppliers. We also operate on-site in many markets. Last year, for example, we were in Hungary, and also in Asian and South American countries. I always find the cultural differences fascinating. I am able to exert a clear influence. We do not turn a blind eye when it comes to human rights.
The automotive and fashion industries are different. Every industry has its own tonality
What is it like working in the automotive sector compared to the fashion industry?
The two fields are indeed different. Every industry has its own tonality. There is a lot more clarity in the automotive industry, for example, even if discussions can sometimes get heated. Objectivity soon returns. The fashion industry is a lot more emotional, for instance, when it comes to trends or the right shades of colors.
Speaking of trends: Do you enjoy traveling for pleasure?
Yes. I enjoy getting to know other cultures. I am also interested in art and have a passion for theater, and I enjoy visiting museums and galleries – contemporary works in particular. I'm not an artist myself. I have too much respect for the blank sheet of paper (laughs).
One last personal question: It's 8.30 p.m. on Saturday. Where can you usually be found?
Hopefully enjoying a good meal with a glass of red wine and my close friends. It doesn't matter where.
Franziska Köber (36) has been working for Daimler AG with responsibility for the subject of human rights at IPS in non-production materials in the "Compliance, Sustainability & Integrity" team since April 2019, and works with suppliers around the world. The graduate textile engineer had previously spent several years working in procurement for a fashion group.