Prof. Thomas Sigi
Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG
for Human Resources and Organization
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Ladies and gentlemen,
My congratulations to the Engineer Powerwoman for 2017.
We need even more women like you in the MINT disciplines. Outstanding women are also working at Audi, of course: for example, in our Technical Development division and as IT experts. They are shaping the mobility of tomorrow.
Audi is searching for even more visionary women. We want the greatest possible diversity and we want the best people, regardless of gender, ethnic origin or age. The more varied the team, the better! We need this variety to stay ahead in the digitized world. A company that is diverse has a competitive edge. The economy is experiencing upheaval and is in search of new business models – and this holds true for the automotive industry as well. Old paradigms and outmoded structures are of no use. Diversity, differences in knowledge, experiences and capabilities enable us to take a fresh approach.
What makes the current transformation process so significant? It is fundamental – disruptive, in fact – and can change whole societies. The drivers are three megatrends we have incorporated into our Audi Strategy 2025: digitization, urbanization and sustainability.
The sustainability megatrend is gaining importance in every industry. Awareness of sustainability matters is influencing lifestyle, customer behavior and employer attractiveness, for example. Governments are pushing environmental protection and sustainable business practices – and this is a good thing!
The urbanization megatrend: Major cities are hot spots for innovation and drivers of growth. At the same time, urban infrastructures are reaching their capacity limits. It’s time for a paradigm shift: away from the city designed for the car, toward appropriate mobility options for people in urban spaces –
and toward new concepts for use like autonomous driving.
The digitization megatrend influences all areas of life. For the automotive sector, this means: customers want constant access to the internet – even, and especially, in the car. We have to confront new competitors, including those from the IT sector and highly dynamic startups. Advancing digitization is also changing our everyday routines. It fosters networked thinking and gives us more freedom in organizing our work. At the same time, it requires us to be flexible and willing to learn.
Big data is becoming part of our economic world – data is becoming a new form of currency. And we can all benefit: Companies can offer new services and customers can use even more customized offerings, such as software updates over the air, or functions on demand. Competence management in handling digital content will become increasingly important. From employees in assembly to sales experts: At Audi, each one of our roughly 88,000 employees deals with the subject of digitization in one way or another.
We are preparing our employees for the digital transformation and have asked ourselves: How do we get our whole team enthusiastic about the digital future? How can we pave the way for visionary thinking? Our answer is: We need even greater freedom for thinking out of the box. With an open mindset, we can stay fit for the work environment of the future. We have to confront new technologies with curiosity, have courage to try new things – and at the same time, take concerns seriously. The issue in the digitized world is job security: Oxford University examined which professions are threatened by the digital transformation. The researchers studied 700 career groups in the United States. The result: 47 percent of these groups are at risk. Among these are relatively simple jobs such as in the construction industry, but also classic office jobs that require specialized knowledge – such as that of a tax adviser.
Digitization, as we at Audi understand it, does not mean making humans dispensable. On the contrary. There will not be a factory without people at Audi. Technologies are playing an increasingly important role in the production process. Innovations are created in the minds of people. They have the expertise and make the decisions. They have to be fit for the digital transformation. We can view such changes as a risk, or we can put the new possibilities to good use and create added value. We at Audi see the digital transformation as an opportunity, since: The pioneering spirit is in our DNA.
The theme of this year’s WoMenPower is “Work 4.0 – Boundless communication”. At Audi, we have set the course for this and are persistently driving the change. One example is the electric drive system of the future: Audi has launched a professional training initiative and, over the past three years, has trained around 6,000 employees to become skilled electrical technicians. In addition, we have worked together with the Technical University of Ingolstadt to establish professional training in electric mobility for powertrain developers. In training and professional development, we are focusing on new methods and learning formats such as digital learning. Since 2015 we have used mobile learning in vocational training. Using tablet computers as a learning aid fosters the personal responsibility and creativity of the apprentices, along with their IT and media competence.
We at Audi focus on having a corporate culture that encourages open dialogue. All this is centered around appreciation and respect. With our actions, we are guided by a moral compass – our leadership principles. We worked together with the team to develop it and rolled it out in numerous workshops. Our leadership principles provides us with a clear direction: toward dealing constructively with mistakes and toward mutual trust. Companies have to place greater trust in individuals in the digitized world and provide them with more freedom. Leadership must move away from control and toward a culture of trust. Our new “mobile working” company agreement creates this freedom. At Audi, employees can influence when and where they work and they are entitled to “mobile working.” This allows them a better work-life balance. Freedom and open communication help employees to discover and fully realize their potential. This is why we focus on autonomous action and dialogue as equals.
Our experts travel to the hot spots of the digital startup scene, from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv. The experiences they gather through this fellowship program are incorporated into our transformation process. Just as important when it comes to an open corporate culture: All employees can benefit from the expertise and be involved in discussing it. In their blogs, the fellows share the information and impressions they have gotten from these tech capitals.
We are currently establishing new forums for knowledge transfer and for the search for new ideas. World cafés, discussion formats in an informal atmosphere, are included among these new approaches. The relaxed setting, with groups of people discussing ideas at individual tables – just like a conversation at your local café around the corner – fosters creativity. We are setting up places to interact. Our daily work routines simply often provide no room for spontaneous, inspiring discussions. We are facilitating this approach with new creative spaces.
We achieve dialogue on an equal footing by removing the boundaries between departments and breaking down hierarchies. Interdisciplinary teams work together in new configurations to develop the mobility of the future. Their goal: fresh ideas, quick decisions and rapid results. It takes courage to break down old paradigms and structures. We want to attract yet more courageous employees – people who will fight for what they believe in. People who have courage will be the leaders in the digitized world, and will transform visions into a competitive edge – Vorsprung. The goal of all of our innovations remains their benefit to people. For this, we must continue thinking outside the box, actively shape change and expand knowledge.
The transformation process is a challenge for us as well. On our journey into the digital future, we are relying on the enthusiasm and inquisitiveness of our employees. This is the key to success. I would like to invite you to travel this road to change with us.
Thank you very much.
Human Resources Communications
Phone: +49 841 89 34009
Human Resources Communications
Phone: +49 841 89-92760