Stefanie Paetow, 43
Head of customer relationship management, Audi
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My dad was a real car aficionado. I grew up reading his automotive magazines and helped him detail his car every weekend. You could say, the interest in cars is in my genes. My first actual job in the automotive industry was when I worked on my master's thesis. The topic was the implementation of complaint management processes at a dealership for premium cars. I talked to aftersales customers about their experiences and expectations, designed processes with defined roles and responsibilities as well as implemented a first hands-on reporting system with the invaluable support of my internal colleagues. Years later I learned this basic setup is still in use. From the beginning, my focus has always been on customers, their needs and having wonderful products. That is why I'm so happy to work for Audi.
Your greatest achievement?
Primarily it's the debut of a CRM (customer relationship management) Salesforce-based solution in France and Italy. It's the largest cross-brand automotive project to date and a key pillar for Volkswagen Group and Audi. It's seen as an essential contribution toward becoming more customer centric. Also, during my time in the Middle East I was able to gain the trust of the wonderful people I worked with there. To this day that's really special to me. And finally, I'm proud of helping my department implement the 360-degree feedback method called “continue-start-stop.” It might have been a small change but it ended up being a huge win for us as a team.
Born: Kösching, Germany
Languages: German, English
Education: Master's degree in business and administration, Technische Hochschule Ingolstadt, Ingolstadt, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
After taking over my dad's agriculture company, I ended up having to close it because Europe changed its regulations. Although it was the right “business decision,” it hit me hard emotionally and was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. This, however, taught me to stick to my values, live with integrity, be ready for change and to be proactive.
What is your current challenge at work?
It's the setup of an agile, multi-brand Salesforce CRM project with more than 140 members. That includes internal and external colleagues from various brands. Our challenge is to deliver in-time and on budget, overcome a silo mentality so everyone is open and shares information, create sustainable solutions and roll them out within a short period of time internationally. Additionally, we want to be able to share the lessons learned from this intercultural work experience with headquarters. Another wrinkle has been doing this work while juggling home schooling for almost a year now.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
I was once told, "Treat it like it is your own baby." To me that means to take ownership of whatever you're working on as well as be motivated, courageous and ambitious. That way you will reach your goals.
2019-present: Head of customer relationship management (CRM), Audi, Ingolstadt, Germany
2017-2019: CRM project leader, Audi, Ingolstadt
2015-2017: Digital regional manager, Audi, Ingolstadt
2011-2015: Managing director, SE-RO Duenger, Harlanden, Germany
2011: Team coordinator CRM, Audi, Ingolstadt
2009-2010: Brand communications manager/area marketing manager, Audi Middle East, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2007-2008: CRM manager; Audi Middle East, Dubai
2005-2006: Project leader database marketing; Audi, Ingolstadt
2001-2005: Senior consultant, PwC and entory
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
My advice, especially to women interested in this industry, is to tell people what you want. Don't assume they know. Also, don't hold back and be proud of yourself.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I want to be able to have a positive impact on our customers, the company, my colleagues and other stakeholders involved. Helping to drive transformation with passion in an international environment is something that will always make me smile.
What do you do to relax?
I like to spend quality time with friends and family. This has taken on a whole new level of importance as we start to emerge from the long, difficult pandemic. Other ways I relax include reading a good book, having a great cup of coffee or working in our garden and seeing my flowers bloom.
What is your dream location to live?
To me it's not so much about the location. It's about the people I'm with. Family, friends and my daily work make life a dream come true. However, it would be heavenly to live in a place that has sunshine most of the year.
What is your favorite driving song?
It depends on my mood. I like everything from ABBA's "Mama Mia" to whatever is popular in the charts. A word of warning though: I always turn up the volume and sing along even though singing is not one of my strengths.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
I remember the day well. It was a Saturday and early in the morning my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, got into my convertible and drove to Lago di Garda in Italy. There we enjoyed cappuccinos by the lake and felt the warm sun on our faces.
What was your first car?
I had a purple Opel Corsa with a rear spoiler, racing stripes on the sides and real alloy wheels. It had 67 hp.
I drive an Audi A6 diesel.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
That car would have to be invented first. It should be able to expand or shrink in size depending on my needs. It should also be able to fly over crowded streets and fully charge itself with sustainable energy at all times.