Barb Samardzich: Europas Chef-Entwicklerin

„Barb Samardzichs Führungsqualitäten, ihre technologische Expertise als Ingenieurin und ihre umfassende Erfahrung werden das Produktentwicklungs-Team entscheidend voranbringen“, so Stephen Odell, Ford Group Vice President and Chairman and CEO of Ford of Europe. Samardzich ist seit September 2011 Chef-Entwicklerin von Ford Europa. Interview mit Barb Samardzich

Barb Samardzich, 52, ist die zweite Frau, die nach Chef-Einkäuferin Birgit Behrendt, in die Topriege als  Chef-Entwicklerin bei Ford  Europa aufgestiegen ist. Samardzich machte einen Bachelor in Maschinenbau an der University of Florida sowie einen Masterabschluss an der Carnegie-Mellon University und der Wayne State University.

 Why did you want to work in the auto industry, fragte Autonews. „I was a trailing spouse. I had started my career at Westinghouse Electric. My husband and I were both there and went to graduate school at the same time. My husband was recruited by Ford Motor Co. When they offered him a job, he told them he had to think about it because his wife would have to find a job. When he told them I was an engineer, I had a job with them in three days.“

 Barb Samardzich arbeitet seit 1990 bei Ford und übernahm insbesondere im Getriebe- und Motorenbereich Führungspositionen, unter anderem als Vice President, Powertrain Engineering.

 „My first opportunity that said this company will give me enough rope to demonstrate my skills one way or another was 15 years ago when they wanted someone with powertrain knowledge to run a whole vehicle program. It was called a chief nameplate engineer back then. Getting that job was a key enabler to show I could manage a full vehicle program“, schreibt Automotive News.

Barb Samardzich liebt Gartenarbeit, joggt gern 3.5 bis 5 Miles,  so oft es sich einrichten lässt und trainiert sich gerade im Golfspielen. Ihr Sohn, 18, und ihr Ehemann spielen eine wichtige Rolle in der Freizeitgestaltung.  Barb, what’s your personal challenge as vice president, Product Development, Ford of Europe?

Barb Samardzich:  Heading up Ford’s European Product Development team is a fantastic opportunity for me personally. There is so much vital skill and experience here in Europe to be proud of and it is my job to ensure this is properly engaged in fulfilling our increasingly important role on the world stage. This is an incredibly busy time for Ford as we continue to develop and produce cars to meet the needs of all of our global customers – every single Ford product around the world will have been replaced or significantly refreshed by 2015. We are absolutely focused on four main pillars that will characterize all our products as we go forwards – green, safe, smart and quality. These four areas are key in all our product development plans to ensure we deliver to our customers around the world the vehicles they want and need. The new Ford Focus, for instance, is a good example of our global approach. We’re just now launching Focus with a new game-changing 1.0-EcoBoost engine. Next it will be launched in the US and in China (shortly) and we expect to sell 1million units a year. And the Focus itself we are now building in Europe, North America, in China, Russia and soon South America. These are enormous challenges, but very satisfying to meet. . .. and your personal motivation?

Barb Samardzich:I think my motivation comes from being able to achieve the best with the resources you have available. I am not phased by the big challenges we face as an industry because I know we have the capability to strengthen and grow as a business through our product leadership. And to be at the delta of that by following my passion as an engineer, makes me feel incredibly lucky. Beyond your proven excellence in vehicles which soft skills are the most important in your job?

Barb Samardzich: In my opinion there are three things that are essential: passion, flexibility and an open mindedness. I am absolutely passionate about my job as an engineer and if you want to build the best cars, you’ve got to be right up to date, even ahead of the game, with the latest trends and techniques – such as battery electric vehicles. You have to keep an open mind about what might be possible or necessary, but if you do, then you can deliver. To give you an example, in the past year we have launched the Ford Transit Connect BEV followed by the Ford Focus Electric this year and with three other hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles to come next year. That rapid development rate is only driven by the passion of our team, their flexibility to adapt and their open mindedness to accept new directions.

 Also, working with many different people all over the world means you have to accept – and indeed benefit – from the variety of characters, personal perceptions and professions. I’ve learned a lot from moving around with Ford and this is open mindedness at its most beneficial. We call it Diversity Management, and it is a crucial part of our company’s culture.  Why female engineers shouldn`t hesitate to start a professional career with Ford?

Barb Samardzich: Ford is one of the global companies highly recognised for its diversity philosophy, so female professionals, especially female engineers, are very welcome. We have well established HR processes, with personal development committees that help identify personal career paths and opportunities for development, regardless of who you are. In addition, Ford is proud of its various employee resource groups that specifically deal with women-related issues e.g. women’s engineering panel, womens’ product panel, etc.