My dream job as a teenager? Concert pianist – I was passionate about playing the piano. When it became clear to me that this would probably remain a pipe dream because I was far too impatient, I decided to study law. I love the analytical side in particular, penetrating facts, then weighing them up with logical arguments and developing strategies. Those are the qualities I need as the person responsible for integrity, governance and sustainability: rational thinking, as well as trusting my own gut feeling. By the way, this is also about integrity: not ignoring critical points or an uneasy feeling, but addressing these openly.
An important focus of my department’s work is to drive forward and secure the sustainable transformation of Mercedes-Benz. People need to continue to be able to be individually mobile: with cars that on the one hand inspire, but on the other hand also have as little impact as possible on people and the environment. That is why we want to consistently focus our actions on sustainability, in all its facets, whether that’s climate protection and resource conservation, diversity and observing human rights in supply chains, handling data responsibly or the highest possible standards in road safety.
From electromobility and artificial intelligence to automated driving, we all have to keep learning if we are to seize these transformation opportunities. It is vital to break out of our comfort zone and jump in at the deep end. This will bring us further in our development. This is advice I often pass on in conversations: focus on your strengths and don’t get hung up too much about the things you can’t do – you can learn most things. It is important to have the courage to try something new. I experienced a particularly formative moment at more or less the other end of the world, when I went on holiday to the Atacama Desert in South America. Lithium is extracted there, used among other things for battery cells in electric cars. The landscape is beautiful, but lithium mining leads to conflicts of interest with the local population.
This was a key experience for me: we should not merely shift problems to other parts of the world in the transition to electromobility. We have developed an approach with our Human Rights Respect System that also focuses on respect for human rights in our supply chains and includes the perspective of the local population when dealing with raw materials with increased risks. How do I recharge my own batteries after a busy week? I love hiking in the mountains in my native Switzerland, on the Piz Fess or Piz Tomül peaks for example. This is especially great in winter, when I can hike up the mountain on my snowshoes. The personal connection to nature makes it even clearer to me how important it is that we all push our sustainability goals even more consistently.