Doctoral Student in IT Innovation Management Interview with Shéhérazade Benzerga

Shéhérazade Benzerga is a doctoral student at Daimler. In her dissertation, she examines the digital transformation – a company's transition from a conventional business model to a digital one. In our interview, she talks about why she opted for Daimler and what she found particularly surprising.

Hello Ms. Benzerga. Please introduce yourself briefly to the readers.
My name is Shéhérazade Benzerga. I am 28 years old. I studied Engineering with a focus on innovation and project management (École Nationale Supérieure en Génie des Systèmes Industriels) and have a Master of Science degree in innovation management (Université de Lorraine, École des Mines de Nancy). I am currently working at Daimler in Möhringen as a doctoral student in the field of digital transformation in IT innovation management.

Why did you choose Daimler as your employer? What appeals to you about Daimler as a specialist in the fields of IT and innovation management?
During my education I developed a great interest in research. I particularly enjoy developing abstract work models in the area of corporate strategy and supporting the associated innovation processes. For me, it was an extraordinary opportunity to join Daimler as an intern and to gain an initial impression of everyday work and the tasks involved. I wanted to get to know the company, especially because of Daimler's strength in the field of innovation, which is reflected throughout the company's history, starting with the invention of the automobile and leading through to central developments in the field of mobility services and autonomous driving.

This then led to a desire to continue my university research work and to study for a doctoral degree at Daimler in the field of innovation management. The IT unit, where I now work as a doctoral student, offers great potential for research. As part of the digitalization process, a company's performance can be improved significantly through the use of information technology. Digitalization also offers new activity fields for development.

Please describe your career at Daimler – from the first day in the company until today.
I started out at Daimler in the Production Engineering and Industrialization - Algeria department in Mannheim. The project was interesting to me as a French woman of Algerian descent. The department offered me an interdisciplinary view into the planning and implementation of the engine plant in Constantine, Algeria. I became acquainted with many different units, from Plant and Production Engineering, Quality Management, IT and Process Logistics to joint venture-related issues and international customer relations. It was also necessary to bring together the different corporate cultures of Germany, France and Algeria.

Please tell us a bit more about the topic of your doctoral thesis.
In my doctoral thesis, I am dealing with the digital transformation – i.e. a company's transition from a conventional business model to a digital one. In view of the potential offered by the use of information technology, it is crucial for every company to address the field of digital business in order to remain competitive. The purpose of my thesis is to identify how this transition can succeed, what strategies need to be developed and what "laws" and rules of the market the transformation follows.

What had you not expected at Daimler?
I was impressed by how innovative and varied Daimler is despite its size and original focus on one specific product. You can feel the strong desire to anticipate new trends on the market and address them with the overall strategy, especially in fields that are outside the company's core specialization.

As a French woman, I also had no idea how complicated Swabian could be. While French dialects merely involve stressing words differently, Swabian, which can be heard frequently at Daimler in Stuttgart despite it being an international location, is full of words that you would never learn in German courses in France.

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