International Women’s Day 2023
At Frauscher we continuously work on facilitating and promoting tolerance, respect, and equal opportunities. As part of this year's International Women's Day (IWD) on 8 March, we want to highlight these values and the common journey towards equity. Together we can all #EmbraceEquity – which is the official theme of this year’s campaign.
Frauscher wants to use the IWD 2023 as an opportunity to consciously put women in the foreground within the company – who make up a third of our global staff. For this reason, we spoke with four women in leadership positions within the railway sector, which is still mainly dominated by men. Read more about their experiences, challenges, and what advice they can give young women just starting their careers, in this blog article.
Maria Reisinger – Managing Director at Frauscher Austria
Maria is Managing Director at Frauscher Austria since December 2021 after holding various positions in the company such as QEHS Manager. She started her career at Frauscher in 2005. Maria is responsible for around 350 employees in the Austrian locations St. Marienkirchen and Vienna.
Trust in people and enable professional growth
Today, Maria likes to think back to the trust she was given at Frauscher, both at the start of her career but also after returning from maternity leave. “I am still very grateful that I was given the chance and the confidence to continue my job as QEHS Manager after being on maternity leave in 2014”, states Maria. This worked out partly due to her family constellation and also due to Frauscher’s corporate culture being based on trust in people and giving the employees the possibility to work independently and take over responsibilities as well as to enable growth on a professional level. “I have always been able to experience this, from Josef Frauscher, the founder of this company to our CEO Michael Thiel and in the entire company”, she continues.
At Frauscher we also continuously try to improve the work-life-balance of our employees to be able to reconcile work and family life. “On the one hand, as a mum, I was given the chance and trust for such a job, on the other hand, we have numerous initiatives – e.g., in-house childcare, flexible working hours, home office days – that make it easier to cope with everyday working life”, explains Maria.
Is this career step 'too big' for me?
When it comes to having a successful career for Maria it’s all about finding something you love and are passionate about but even more about taking the opportunities, which arise or even actively look for them to keep growing on a professional level. “At this point, what I observe is that women are way more hesitant than men. So, I really would like to encourage all talented women out there, to take up the possibilities and opportunities that arise or actively ask for new roles and challenges – even if they seem 'too big' at the beginning. Also, it is okay and normal to fail in some areas and I guarantee, these are the moments, where you learn and grow the most”, concludes Maria.
Melanie Kleinpötzl – CDO at Frauscher
Melanie holds the position as Chief Digital Officer (CDO) since March 2021 as well as Head of Innovations since November 2021 after holding various positions in the company such as Product Manager. She started her career at Frauscher in 2011. In her role she supports and drives digital initiatives within the company always keeping in mind an innovative and global perspective.
As a successful woman in the industry: How did you hold your own?
“Especially in a traditional industry such as railway, which is still mainly dominated by men, as a woman you often get the feeling you have to prove yourself, either because you are underestimated or overlooked”, explains Melanie. At Frauscher she took the opportunity to prove herself with her expertise and skills in this responsible task and has built a successful and motivated team around her. Together with the engaged Innovations colleagues and the management team Melanie focuses on continuous improvement to drive the digital development of the organisation forward. “The best proof of the work done are the results, the common goal you are working on with your team and the KPIs that the company achieves. I am always very proud of all the great things that are accomplished – from both my female and male colleagues and it’s important to make everyone aware of our success. I often have the feeling that women have a versatile way of thinking and find solutions where others rather see problems. So, there is really no reason to hide behind our male colleagues”, concludes Melanie.
Be brave and believe in yourself
During a professional career Melanie encourages everyone to believe in themselves but also to be brave and to not doubt their own skills too much or to be too hesitant about potential failings.
Looking for a mentor, a successful woman within the company or the personal surrounding can also be of great guidance and bring valuable insights. “I have often the feeling that especially between women there is more envy and resentment than between male colleagues which is often holding us back. I would really like to encourage professional women to support each other, stand up for each other and encourage each other to do their best”, concludes Melanie.
Anjali Menon – Head of QEHS at Frauscher India
Anjali Menon has been working as the Head of QEHS at Frauscher India since December 2018. Prior to this role, she worked for several other multinational companies, which has provided her with a broad perspective on best practices from different regions. Her responsibilities include taking a lead role in ensuring compliance with quality, environment, health, and safety standards across Frauscher India.
Knowledge is power and teamwork matters
Anjali acknowledges that gender discrimination still exists in the industry, but she has observed a reduction in its prevalence in recent years. "Back when I was an engineering student, hardly one-fifth of the students were women. In earlier years of my career, I was usually the only woman in a managerial position," she recalls. However, in recent years, more women are taking up leadership positions. Anjali believes that knowledge is power and that if you bring knowledge to the table and perform well, you will be heard regardless of gender or background. Another life mantra that she believes in is stop starting and start finishing which emphasizes the importance of completing the work you have started. Also working as a team leads to personal growth, increases job satisfaction, and reduces stress.
Anjali's beliefs have helped her successfully deliver projects involving large teams with members from diverse backgrounds and mindsets. "This is what counts at the end of the day and helps build a successful career," she concludes.
How can we all support gender equality?
Anjali believes that actively supporting and embracing gender equality requires a commitment to educating ourselves and others, challenging gender stereotypes and biases, advocating for equal opportunities, creating an inclusive and psychologically safe environment for women to operate in, and much more. Educators, businesses, and individual mindsets must be broadened if barriers are going to be broken, stereotypes challenged, and obstacles overcome regarding women’s participation and contribution in industries focusing on technology and innovation.
To overcome gender bias in the workplace, having more female role models and mentors could be highly valuable. "In my career path so far, I have always been led and accompanied by male and female leaders who have been role models and have inspired and supported me," says Anjali.
Melanie Gangl – Managing Director at Frauscher UK
Melanie is Managing Director of Frauscher UK since April 2020 after holding various positions in the company such as Production Director at Frauscher India. She started her career at Frauscher in 2010. In her role as Managing Director, Melanie drives the successful development and market position of Frauscher UK whilst providing excellent service to customers.
From intern to female leader – without any obstacles?
Melanie’s career at Frauscher has been unusually interesting – growing from an intern to a woman leader, while also working at the intersection of production and management in multiple cultures. “Even today, people from the industry go wide-eyed when I introduce myself as Managing Director and not the Assistant of my Sales Manager. In the UK, not so much, because UK is more accustomed to seeing women in leadership, but in other locations they are surprised”, states Melanie. “Then again, I come from the production side, which is heavily male dominated. In this regard, I did have to prove myself at the beginning. I needed to show that I was as competent and as knowledgeable as the men on the projects.”
However, she strongly believes that if one is passionate about what they do, gender does not play a role when it comes to being considered for a promotion, or a chance to get ahead.
Don't be intimidated by the word 'technical'
Melanie encourages more women to pursue a technical education – without any fear or apprehension. “Throughout my career, I made it a point to push through my discomfort in certain career areas that were not considered a good option for women. So, I would like to say to all women - don't be intimidated by the word 'technical' or think 'oh, it's too technical' but rather give it a try”, states Melanie.
Melanie also feels that companies can help by building a supportive workplace culture with flexible work options and well-being packages where female employees have a strong voice at work. Ultimately, technology and innovation must enable a new world of work where our next generation of women leaders can step forward. However, “it also starts at home, with the parents. I humbly feel parents need to shape their daughters’ approach to science and technology fields and give them all the backing they need”, concludes Melanie.