User Interaction Expert Interview with Maxi Vogel

What jobs does Daimler offer for psychologists? And what tasks does a user interaction expert have? Maxi Vogel works as a user interaction expert in the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant and answered these and other questions in the interview below.

The User Interaction Expert Maxi Vogel shows us her working place in the office.

Maxi, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi, my name is Maxi. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and finished my Master’s in Human Factors (on top of applied Psychology I did get a glimpse of engineering as well as programming). So in other words I am an expert of human behavior as well as experience and how to use this knowledge while developing human machine interfaces. Currently I develop User Interaction concepts for all engine and chassis functions of our Mercedes-Benz cars in Sindelfingen, Germany.

Why did you choose Daimler as an employer after your studies?
Cars always fascinated me. When I was young, I loved my matchbox cars, and getting a new car or driving a cool car was a special experience for my whole family. I grew up with German automotive brands and wanted to work for one of them ever since. As a result I focused on human car interfaces while I studied Human Factors and looked for a job at Daimler.

Please describe your career at Daimler – from the first day in the company until today.
I started on January 1st in 2014. Research & Development offers a one-year-program for direct entrants, Start@Daimler. The program did inform very well about Daimler as well as my chances & possibilities within it. As an add-on I connected with a lot of other “starters” and we shared our experiences. On the other hand, my boss assigned two mentors for me within my team – one to inform me about general organization stuff – another to include me on all hard skills needed for my job. On top my team welcomed me warm. I got a lot of support from each and everyone. Thanks for that! We do have a great team spirit.
This did help me to understand quite quick how things work at Daimler. I was able to work independently after a few weeks even though I still did need support sometimes. So I got my own projects that I am responsible for within the first month.
After 5 month I did have the possibility to work for 2 weeks at the S class production in Sindelfingen. It was a special experience because I learned to appreciate and value that hard job. My foreman Rudi did give me a unique insight. Thanks again Rudi! In august my boss was looking for a new deputy and did ask me to the job. In November 2014 I started to supervise the student employee of my team.
Today I am very well integrated. A lot of colleagues told me that it feels like I have been working here for much longer than a year.

Outside the office, when Maxi is in the production hall, she's also taking a look under the bonnet.

Please tell us more about your team and your current position.

My department is responsible for two clusters: the development of systems that are generated by User Interaction and the development of the User Interaction concepts for chassis/engine, comfort, safety, open/close, assistance systems as well as gestures. The second cluster is processed in my team. The special approach of my team is that we are not focused on one display, hardware element or a UI generation. We conceptualize across all vehicle generations and develop display/hardware-independent concepts. On top we supply UI spokespersons for our different vehicle variants. To do so, we cooperate with a lot of other departments of the Daimler AG, e. g. engineers, certification, design, quality, marketing and of course vehicle projects. Our goal is the best UI for each system in all Mercedes-Benz cars. We want to create a unique Mercedes-Benz look and feel with our UI.

What qualifications should one have to become a user interaction expert?
We are an interdisciplinary team. A lot of my colleagues are psychologists but some studied engineering with focus on HMI, interaction design, computer science etc. So in conclusion: You should have had contact to usability or user experience in school but you should also have a certain understanding of technology/engineering (since we have to work closely with engineers). On the soft skill side it is important to be open, innovative/enthusiastic about innovations as well as able to assert the usability/UX point of view. Since our job is no one man show, you should be a team player. Last but not least, it is important to have good presenting skills and have no fear to present in front of large groups.

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