Annette Dörre-Rosengarth
Token Woman? No way!

Annette Dörre-Rosengarth is the product designer at Schwalm Robotic GmbH. Her employer, Martin Schwalm, doesn’t hold women quotas in very high regard, and she even less so. After all, it would be criminal to reduce the 48-year-old to such. On the contrary. Since the beginning of 2014, she has been responsible for an area of responsibility at Schwalm Robotic which combines Schwalm product design, its production employees, alongside organization and order sizes, the documentation of inventory control/the production groups, etc., etc., etc... Within the four year period of her employment thus far, the trained mechanical engineering draftswoman has already successfully re-established or optimized many things in the male-dominated company, Schwalm Robotic. The editorial staff at KANALisiert accompanied her for a day in order to learn more from the mother of, today, four grown children about how she goes about this role daily with joy.

With Annette Dörre-Rosengarth, the day starts early. Very early. The alarm clock next to her bed rings at 4:15 a.m. She lives just under 70 km away from her workplace. She goes for a shower and takes the oh-so important coffee with her into the bathroom. She does have to catch the train to Bad Hersfeld, after all, which leaves the station at 5:47 a.m. We have arranged to meet her on March 20, 2018. It’s minus 5 degrees and we pick her up from the Bad Hersfeld train station at 6:15 a.m. A little chilly, but coming across as very fresh and lively, she gets in the car. “I’m used to it, my day beginning so early,” she says with a smile, adding: “A colleague from Schwalm Robotic usually picks me up here, and we start the working day together.”

When we arrive at the Industriestraße in Asbach, everything is still very quiet and, above all, nice and warm. The first thing Dörre-Rosengarth does is make herself a hot lemon drink. “It keeps me healthy in this kind of weather, and prevents colds. Now the day can begin.” We go into her office and, on the computer, she shows me how her current day is structured. At 9:30 a.m., she has a meeting with the employees from Manufacturing / the workshop lined up. “This regularly takes place on Tuesdays, so that we can come to an agreement as a team about the inventory of vendor parts, divided up according to product groups, for orders which are currently to be processed.” Generally, it is very important to Dörre-Rosengarth to promote communication among employees and the departments. As the experienced, high-powered woman knows: “You don’t get very far just yelling to each other across the hall. That’s why I’ve also introduced a meeting culture from the beginning of my work at Schwalm. You can only have and keep good employees (of which Schwalm Robotic has a great deal) when you give them the opportunity to participate and to contribute their own ideas within their corresponding fields of activity, as well as the opportunity to be able to discuss potential disruptive factors in the responsible team. In these meetings, I am also happy to receive suggestions for improvement and, most important of all, I take them seriously.”

She convinces me of this fact anew in the second meeting of the day at 10:30 a.m. The employees from Production gather to meet with the product designer. A consultation about the current order situation takes place. Are there production bottlenecks? Which parts are not yet in stock, and when will these arrive? Everyone gets the chance to speak, and contributes with confidence. If you’re now thinking that the whole day at Schwalm just consists of meetings, you’re wrong. On the contrary, both of these meetings together didn’t take longer than three quarters of an hour. Well-informed and having stayed in contact through the consultations, the teams have now returned back to their corresponding workstations. However, colleague Jochen Zeitler, Technical Manager and Customer Consultant at Schwalm Robotic GmbH, is now waiting in the product designer’s office. He needs to clarify a technical drawing of a Schwalm product. A few changes have arisen, which need to be accounted for in the documentation. The two experts stand in front of the computer, which provides them with a 3D view of the drawings made by Dörre-Rosengarth via the construction program “Inventor”, and passionately discuss the best solution. Engaged, controversial, but always respectful. It’s only in this way that fantastic results can occur! My impression here is that Dörre-Rosengarth has no problem holding her ground. Neither here, nor in other areas. In addition to the pronounced professional expertise, she has the natural authority so important for a manager and, what’s more, she also brings a great deal of empathy with her. And her word is valid! Nothing is imposed on her, rather, you can sense how much joy this task gives her. Her sense of identification with the company and its employees is extremely high.

Jochen Zeitler has just left the office when the agile product designer asks me to accompany her to the parts warehouse, the workshop, and Production. There, she would like to speak with the employees, in order to inform herself about the current status quo in Production regarding the Schwalm Robotic parts which are important at this time, and to examine said parts. Satisfied with the results of the conversation, we return to her office after 15 minutes. It is now 11:45 a.m. Now, she can dedicate herself to phoning suppliers in order to discuss product updates, quantities, and delivery time frames. This, as well as the request for tenders among suppliers, also belongs to her range of tasks.

12:30 p.m. – a half-hour lunch break for the entire team. As is the case every lunchtime, Dörre-Rosengarth meets with her colleagues in the break/social room, in order to seek out personal interaction yet again. She comes off well here, too. One or two private stories get told around the table for good measure.

After this, round two of the work day is rung in. On the agenda is one of Dörre-Rosengarth’s biggest tasks. The documentation of the entire inventory control/Schwalm production groups, in addition to the determination of order sizes in the inventory control system. “A very complex task which, nevertheless, is very close to my heart,” emphasizes the 48-year-old. “After all, when these are all complete and up-to-date, the in-house processes for everyone involved in Production will be more transparent, and improved. The result: more efficiency.  Let’s take a look and see how far I get along with it today. At 5:00 p.m., however, that’s definitely it for the day. Then I have to get back to the train station in Bad Hersfeld, so I can get back home.” However, there’s no need for me to bring her there this time. Rather, it’s an unwritten rule among the employees that one of them takes her to the train station. And this happens every day, without discussion. “Of course, this is something truly special and not at taken for granted. I am, however, happy to accept it as a sign of being held in high regard. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow morning, when I will be picked up from the Bad Hersfeld train station by a colleague from Schwalm Robotic. And that will mean that, yet again: “The day can begin.”