Daniel Klein, 37
Chief financial officer, Mehler Engineered Products
Family:Wife, Simone; daughter, Lia, 13; son, Tim, 16
Born: Krefeld, Germany
Languages: German, English, basic French
Education: Master's degree in business administration and economics, Mercator School of Management, University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I still work at the company where I started my automotive career, Mehler Engineered Products, where I am the group CFO. I joined the industry after 10 years in the healthcare industry. I switched to automotive because of my passion for cars and car components.
Your greatest achievement?
I started university at age 21 when my son Tim was already born. Lia, my daughter, followed two years later. It was a challenging six years but I am proud that I successfully balanced starting a family, earning my degree, beginning my work in my professional field while also holding a number of part-time jobs to help support my family. This required a lot of teamwork with my wife, who supported me brilliantly. These years enriched my life and proved that when you are disciplined, work hard and have clear long-term goals, everything will work out in the end.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Early in my career I didn't speak up when I should have shared my opinion. I learned that it is always better to say what you need to. As a team leader today, I make sure I create the type of environment where people feel safe to share their opinions.
What is your current challenge at work?
My biggest challenge is our IT infrastructure. We need to combine a global ERP (enterprise resource planning) system with common reporting tools. This is absolutely necessary for companies to build a strong foundation to analyze the business and then make the right decisions. This is something that is particularly important for my finance organization.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
If I think about how many different components are necessary to build a car, it is impressive to see how strongly this industry depends on so many different suppliers in so many markets. This includes textiles, rubber, aluminum and more. This industry is also affected by political decisions made around the world. That's why a company in the automotive sector has to be highly flexible and quickly adapt to change to stay competitive and succeed.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don't take yourself too seriously. Treat everybody fairly and with respect.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
My advice isn't automotive specific. I would recommend that the person always works hard and remains open minded. This will lead to success in the long run.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I want to continue to work in a capacity that challenges me. I also want to have the opportunity to contribute and influence the company and its employees.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy watching ice hockey games together with my family and friends. I also love to travel around the globe visiting new places.
What is your pet peeve?
I don't like people who only complain about issues but aren't interested doing anything to help solve the problem.
What was your first car?
A 1984 Volkswagen Polo.
A BMW 5-series station wagon.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500 K.
2017-present: Chief financial officer, Mehler Engineered Products, Fulda, Germany
2016-2016: Senior manager finance for U.S. & Europe, Thermo Fisher Scientific/Oxoid Deutschland, Wesel, Germany
2015-2016: Finance manager global projects, Thermo Fisher Scientific/Oxoid Deutschland, Wesel
2013-2015: European finance manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific/Oxoid Deutschland, Wesel
2012-2013: Finance manager for central Europe, Thermo Fisher Scientific/Oxoid Deutschland, Wesel
2009-2011: Senior financial analyst, Beckman Coulter, Krefeld, Germany
2006-2009: Financial analyst, Beckman Coulter, Krefeld