Dennis Gedrat, 40
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I started my career in 2006 in automotive electronics development. My first task was to build a demonstrator for connectivity and camera-based automated testing of display components. The complexity and variety of the components and systems fascinated me. I was also impressed by the team’s great spirit.
Born: Wolfsburg, Germany
Languages: German, English
Education: Master’s degree in computer engineering, Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences, Wolfenbuettel, Germany
Your greatest achievement?
During my career, I have worked with many young people who are new to automotive development. I got to guide them to become professionals, encourage them to overcome their internal doubts and dare to take a step forward. I truly enjoy helping them develop into great team players.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
There was a time when I didn’t listen to my employees. I didn’t see their needs. As a result, they quit. It taught me that I can only be successful when I take care of my team and show them their work is meaningful. Even if it means that I must change my own goals.
What is your current challenge at work?
I recently started working at a new company. I find my employees feeling uncertain about what their future positions will look like. I want to build a vision together with them, encouraging them to grow and to think of things a bit differently. My challenge is to convince all the stakeholders that change is necessary.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
Over the last few years I experienced firsthand how the whole business model is changing. It’s no longer about developing and selling cars. Now it’s all about the car’s whole life cycle. It really surprises me how quickly this change has begun affecting all of us and how hard it is for people to adopt. They have been used to an established process, especially within the management culture.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I think of management a bit like being out on a soccer field. There is always time to step up to the ball, take a deep breath and to look around. Who is with you on your team? What is the best way around the opposing players? I got this advice early in my management career and it’s something I remind myself of every day.
2015-2019: Department manager, Bertrandt Tappenbeck, Tappenbeck, Germany
2012-2015: Team manager, Bertrandt Tappenbeck, Tappenbeck
2011-2012: Lead engineer, Bertrandt Tappenbeck, Tappenbeck
2006-2011: Development engineer, Bertrandt Tappenbeck, Tappenbeck
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
First you must find out where your passion lies. That is important for the automotive industry as well as any other field you may be considering. You can only be great if you love what you do and enjoy working with others. Automotive developments offer a wide range of highly complex systems and architectures. It’s not always clear from the beginning how things will be developed. That means more flexible methods are being introduced. If you are looking for a real challenge, join us.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
We don’t know what global mobility will look like and if the old-fashioned automotive industry can manage the upcoming changes. However, roles and hierarchies are becoming more flexible. As my experience grows, I would like to become a mentor and philosopher. Someone who brings people together, helps them come up with innovative ideas, gives them motivation and capabilities to succeed in business.
What do you do to relax?
I love spending time in nature, working in the garden, fishing, go hiking and cooking outdoors. I enjoy the simple things in life. I also love to be with my family and friends.
What is your pet peeve?
In general, I would consider myself as a rather easy person to get along with. However, it really annoys me if the dirty dishes are not put into the dishwasher in an orderly fashion. I have developed my own system to put maximum efficiency into this task. I always have to rearrange things when my partner does this job haphazardly.
What was your first car?
A Suzuki GSX 600F motorbike.
A Skoda Superb Sportline.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
Definitely a blue one.