Philipp Engler, 36
Product assembly lead, shop floor IT systems, BMW Group
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My first job was with BMW Group, where after just three months I found myself at the company’s U.S. factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to help introduce a completely new automated warehouse solution. The parts carrier moves at a speed of 1 meter in 2.1 seconds, proving that Amazon is not the only company with large, automated warehouses. I was attracted to the industry by BMW’s belief in innovation and digitalization.
Your greatest achievement?
Personally, it is the family my wife and I have built. We are deeply rooted in our community and the strength of our religion. Professionally, I was able to build a highly automated project in BMW’s production IT using AI (artificial intelligence). We can now solve more than 40 percent of system errors a month without human involvement. Before we created this innovative approach, IT personnel had to solve these errors manually. We improved the time to resolve documented problems, or tickets, by more than 70 percent. It helps prevent unnecessary production stops.
Family: Wife, Anna Maria; son, Ben, 3; daughter due in October
Born: Simbach am Inn, Germany
Languages: German, English
Education: Master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business informatics, University of Applied Science Deggendorf, Deggendorf, Germany
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I tend to move very quickly when I believe I have a good idea or solution. However, I have learned you need to get people on board to support these ideas – and that takes time, strong communication and some patience. This is the only way new systems will gain acceptance. It requires personal commitment.
What is your current challenge at work?
I believe in the strength of digitalization and what improvements it can bring to the production environment. However, it’s very important to take people -- on every level -- along on this journey. We have to tell, show and lead them so they don’t feel threatened by digitalization, which will not take away their jobs but can help them grow.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
One of the best pieces of advice comes from my dad. When I started working for BMW he told me to stay true to the person I am. He also urged me to be open with the people I meet at the company and to treat everyone with respect and trust.
2022-present: Product assembly lead, shop floor IT systems, BMW Group, Dingolfing, Germany
2019: Introduced a new AI-based, fully automated solution to solve production IT tickets, BMW, Munich, Germany
2018-2021: Responsible for the DevOps (development and operation) sourcing initiative for production IT, BMW, Munich
2016-2018: IT project lead for the iXt electric car, BMW, Dingolfing
2012-2015: Project lead for the introduction of small parts warehouses at six plants, BMW, Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Now is the right time to join the automotive industry. Volatility, uncertainty and complexity rule our world. They bring big challenges but can also provide great opportunities. Talented people are able to bring fresh ideas, show what agile teams can do and what new work models provide. It’s important to believe in the strength of digitalization. Also, rise up to challenges and provide benefits to the products you’re responsible for. I can tell every person who is interested in this career that technology is important. However, the people who stand behind this technology are just as important.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I’m looking for a position where I can push for more change. Change is what drives and satisfies me. I want to show the automotive industry that digitalization brings positive change to all of our company’s employees.
What do you do to relax?
I love taking my family and the dogs for adventures in nature. We like doing outside activities together such as hiking, biking and canoeing. I can truly relax when we embark on any of these activities.
What is your dream location to live?
Sweden. I would love for us to live in a traditional red house on one of the country’s many islands. There we could take part in water sports, enjoy nature as well as the Nordic culture.
What is your favorite driving song?
Since I drive an electric car, I really enjoy the hum of the powertrain. However, when I know it’s going to be a big day at a BMW production location I like to turn on “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
My favorite road trip was with my wife during the first year of our relationship. We spent four weeks hiking through beautiful Ireland. All we had were our backpacks and shoes. It was a great way to relax, see nature and enjoy the great bed and breakfast hosts we met at some of the country’s most wonderful spots. Once, we weren’t able to find a place for the night at the Ring of Kerry, which is one of the most amazing landscapes I’ve ever seen. That evening, while sitting in a pub and wondering what we were supposed to do, the pub’s singer offered us his couch for the night. The next morning, we woke up in a really lovely place with a fabulous view of the sea.
What was your first car?
A white Volkswagen Scirocco.
A BMW X5 e45 plug-in hybrid.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would like to be the new BMW iX because it showcases how digitalization has changed the production process for cars. The resulting electric car combines performance and innovation while signaling the start of a new digital era in the automotive industry.