Women at STIHL: Susanne Schweizer

I have been at STIHL for 25 years, so I have held quite a few different positions in that time. I was product manager and purchaser for STIHL Accessories between 1998 and 2010, before taking on the role of head of accessories procurement within product management. I have been at STIHL Training since 2019, where I am responsible for processes, needs assessment, and content planning. One of the areas I am focusing on at the moment is realigning STIHL Training toward global training management, which involves plenty of new areas, new colleagues, and lots of variety in the day-to-day routine. At the moment I have a lot to do with networks, transferring STIHL knowledge, and liaising with neighboring areas.

The international collaboration in our fantastic team is great to see at the moment. There are quite a lot of women in the department. Overall, we have a good mix of younger, newer colleagues and older members of staff with lots of experience. For me, the key to success is diversity. There’s no daily routine in what we do at STIHL Training, because there are always new topics to cover.

For me, the key to success is diversity.
Susanne Schweizer, Departmental Officer, STIHL Training Processes and Content
Susanne Schweizer , Departmental Officer, STIHL Training Processes and Content, Plant 1

When I first started, I was the only female product manager. The topics I was dealing with were more of a challenge than any gender-specific issues. I was always valued and appreciated by my male colleagues and never felt disadvantaged, which was definitely because of the excellent managers I had. Smaller suppliers that still had very hierarchical and conservative business structures at that time were more of a problem. It was communicated to me in no uncertain terms who I was allowed to talk to and who was off limits.

Being a manager is obviously a challenging job, especially when women in full-time roles have children and return to work part-time. I have always prized giving female staff the opportunity to return to work with the number of hours they feel comfortable with. The whole team had to become extremely flexible for that to happen, but we managed it together – including by offering the possibility of remote working, long before the coronavirus came along.

Susanne Schweizer, Departmental Officer, STIHL Training Processes and Content

Many years ago, Dr. Michael Prochaska, Executive Board for Human Resources and Legal Affairs, organized an event called Women at STIHL. I took part and talked for the first time about differences I wasn’t aware of before or that I had not experienced before. That’s why I think it’s important that women at STIHL set up a network to support and assist each other, and particularly young women. There was a second event about women combining having children with pursuing a career. I think that’s an important topic too, and not just from a female perspective. There are differences between men and women that simply can’t be ignored or changed by regulations or the law.

German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt is one woman who has been a source of inspiration to me. Suzi Quatro was also someone I looked up to in my youth, but there are lots of men who have inspired me too.