Bettina Fetzer, 42
Vice president communications and marketing, Mercedes
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
Since 2004 I have held several positions at the company. What I like about the automotive industry is the variety of personal and professional development possibilities it offers. There are always new, challenging jobs. Mercedes-Benz is a luxury icon, a cultural asset almost everyone knows. I’m thrilled to be part of this success story.
Your greatest achievement?
I’m proud of being an ambassador for our companies’ Leadership 20X initiative as a pioneer of a modern leadership style. The initiative is based on principles like agility, empowerment, co-creation as well as learning while shaping a visionary future. Today products, customer expectations and working environments are changing. Employees now have different demands than during previous generations. They want more freedom to make decisions, implement ideas and enjoy a flexible work environment. Then there’s our strategic brand development. Our goal is clear: Mercedes-Benz wants to build the world’s most desirable vehicles. This aspiration is at the heart of the brand's positioning, which focuses on luxury. We create value and desire. This brand should offer the ultimate experience. Our brand is open to creative opportunities, culture, innovation and technology. It’s an exciting journey.
Family: Husband; son, 4
Languages: German, English
Education: Master’s degree in European business studies, business administration and management, University of Applied Sciences, Landshut, Germany; master’s degree in business management, Ashcroft International Business School, Cambridge, England
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I call them challenges instead of failures. Of course, I face them in my job as well as my private life. For example, balancing work life with being a mom. When my son was about four months old, my husband and I made the decision to take a job opportunity that was offered to me. We wanted to see if it worked for us and our little son. Now, we both work full-time and take care of our child together. Another challenge my team and I faced was organizational restructuring. We merged our internal marketing and communications activities in April 2021. This went hand in hand with our new agency setup in September 2021, which just started in January 2022. We fundamentally reorganized the agency’s side with a long-term partnership under Omnicom Group’s global roof. It’s called Team X. It won’t only be a processual transformation, but a cultural one as well.
What is your current challenge at work?
COVID-19 was one of the biggest challenges. We had to create a sense of closeness without personally seeing each other. I lead a team of about 400 people. They are in different locations worldwide. Even before the pandemic, we had mobile and flexible working hours. Digital leadership can bring positive and negative challenges. When you coordinate a team, you have to have faith in the abilities of others, empower them and make them grow. You need to know how to delegate, without the anxiety of totally losing control. The virus is still a current topic. However, after two years of working from home and only seeing each other digitally, we are slowly returning to the office and hope for a cultural new beginning.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
My life’s motto comes from this great quote from author Christine Nöstlinger: "Better a few blisters than a lifetime of cold fingers." We have to try things. We have to be brave. I’m curious about new topics and like to transfer responsibility to teams. If something goes wrong, I don’t overreact. As long as a team does its job passionately and competently, I'm happy to put up with a few blisters.
2021-present: Vice president communications and marketing, Mercedes-Benz, Stuttgart, Germany
2018-2021: VP marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Stuttgart
2015-2018: Director global communications, Mercedes-Benz Cars and Vans, Stuttgart
2011-2013: Head of business communications, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Stuttgart
2008-2011: Assistant to the head of communications, Daimler, Stuttgart
2007-2008: Spokesperson business communications, Daimler, Stuttgart
2004-2007: Spokesperson corporate communications, Daimler, Stuttgart
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
My advice isn’t limited to the automotive industry. If you want something, you have to work for it. Seize opportunities when they come your way. Make an effort and see that others recognize and appreciate your achievements. Find an environment that supports you, values you and gives you visibility. Be sure to remain authentic and true to yourself. Don't be discouraged by failure. Instead learn to deal with disappointment and keep going. It will pay off. I also believe it’s important to raise your hand courageously and confidently. Set the right priorities, go the extra mile and always try to achieve the best possible result. You should also know how you want to be seen in the company. Think about how you want to deal with people and your own fit in the corporate culture.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I take things as they come. It’s important for me to look for something I’m passionate about. I want to stay true to my values and be authentic. I don't have a five-year plan. I have never gone through life like that, and I still stay hungry.
What do you do to relax?
I now consciously take time out for myself. I dedicate this time to my family. Spending time with loved ones is very fulfilling. I also relax by reading. Of course, I also love to travel.
What is your dream location to live?
There’s no one particular place. Home is where my friends and family are. I'm a very cosmopolitan person and my job at an international company makes it much easier.
What is your favorite driving song?
It really depends on my mood. However, one band that’s found on most of my playlists is The xx, especially the song “Intro.”
What was your favorite road trip and why?
It’s an off-road experience I had driving through the desert of the Empty Quarter on the Arabian Peninsula. I liked the tranquility, the seemingly limitless expanse as well as the starry sky. I felt very connected to the environment and nature.
What was your first car?
During my studies I bought a black Smart ForTwo convertible.
I love my Mercedes G-Class. However, I will get an EQS soon. From our most prestigious icon I will switch to all electric. I’m very excited about it.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would probably be a Mercedes 107 SL from 1986. The car is iconic. With its 70-year success story, the SL model line is significant to the Mercedes brand. I also happen to own one.