Women@Liebherr: A conversation with Stefanie Böhm, Business Analyst

After completing her degree in computer science at the University of Ulm, Stefanie began her career at Liebherr by working on the development of a scheduling program for the shop floor. As a member of the IT Department, she has contributed to countless program launches and switch-overs throughout the years, continually progressing in her field. Now she’s a business analyst in the IT and Organization department.

In our interview, she provides insights into her career path and experiences as a woman in a male-dominated field, and makes suggestions on how to further improve diversity in the workplace.

What made you decide to study computer science?

My path to studying computer science was quite unconventional. In high school, my focus was on English and art – obviously a completely different direction. After graduation, I took a year off and completed various internships in order to find out where my passion really lay. From a veterinary traineeship to a stint with the TV channel RTL – there was a little bit of everything, but none of it was a really great fit.

When I pondered my professional future further, I thought that computer science is an incredibly broad field and opens up many opportunities. So that’s what I decided to do. The first semester at the university was a real reality check, particularly because of the intense focus on mathematics. But after the initial challenges, I became quite comfortable with it. Despite being in a male-dominated environment, both during my studies, and also here in the company, I’ve felt at home and have had great experiences. I highly recommend it.

In the first few years at Liebherr, the emphasis was on classic IT tasks, such as the development of a scheduling program or the change-over of an ERP system. How did the focus shift to organizational projects?

The shift to organizational projects began in 2021 with the physical relocation of the Service Department. I was tasked with trying to incorporate the concept of “New Work” – what is it and how could it be of use to us? One important aspect was the idea of desk sharing, which not only allows for more spatial flexibility but is also meant to encourage flexibility of thought.

Over the course of the project, the issue of “change management” became a crucial topic. It was a new challenge for me familiarizing myself with the principles of change management. While computer science is known for its “zeros and ones,” this step had a much more psychological aspect to it.

After an advanced vocational training program to become a “change practitioner,” I eventually focused on internal Change Management projects. The biggest challenge lies in making sure employees are well informed about any potential changes and that they accept them. Here, communication plays an important role.

The motto “One passion. Many opportunities” really applies here. You can develop in any direction you wish and enact the ideas you want to bring about.

What do you like in particular about Liebherr as an employer?

Over time, I’ve come to appreciate most the idea that it’s a family-run company and the values implied by that. The informal atmosphere, the trust and long-term thinking are very important to me personally. The quality of our products and the dependability of our company underscore these values.

I also enjoy the high degree of freedom given to me regarding decision making as well as the trust that’s placed in me. The motto “One passion. Many opportunities” is really applied here. You can develop in any direction you wish and enact the ideas you want to bring about. That’s incredibly motivating.

What has been your biggest highlight at Liebherr to date?

For me, there hasn’t been any one single project that really stands out but rather many small successes that have added up over time – and the constant potential to discover new things and grow. Even in challenging situations there’s always a learning curve that I really enjoy. I also really like the constant improvement, both for the company as well as for me personally. You don’t stand still and you’re always learning about new perspectives from your colleagues and new ways of seeing things, which in turn helps you yourself to think in new ways.

What is work like as a woman at Liebherr? Do you notice differences or specific challenges as compared to your male colleagues?

There are basic differences, of course. Men communicate differently and meetings have a different dynamic. It’s not necessarily harder but definitely different, and you have to learn to be comfortable with that. My five years studying computer science also prepared me well for this type of communication.

But this phenomenon is not just limited to communication between the sexes or to your profession. It extends to several other areas of life. Both in your personal approach to children, friends, relatives, and acquaintances as well as in the work environment, a critical skill is developing a certain tact in dealing with people and communicating with them.

To bring it back to Liebherr, I’ve certainly never felt disadvantaged. Liebherr offers an open culture where I feel at ease.

From your perspective, what can companies do to provide more diverse work environments and equal opportunities?

Flexible work hours and the possibility to work remotely are important elements. As a mother of three, I know from personal experience how important this flexibility is. At Liebherr, I was easily able to go back to work each time I took maternity leave without any obstacles being set in my path. For many of my friends I know, that wasn’t so easy.

In addition, part-time leadership positions or job-sharing models can provide huge advantages. Such measures can expand the field for women in leadership roles and strengthen workplace diversity.

Be confident in yourself! It’s essential that you don’t let your fear or your doubts get the better of you. Take that step and don’t let anything stop you.

What advice would you give women who are interested in a career in male-dominated professions or are already active in one?

Be confident in yourself! It’s essential that you don’t let your fear or your doubts get the better of you. Take that step and don’t let anything stop you.

My second piece of advice would be to build a strong network. By engaging in conversations with people and exchanging experiences, you can establish valuable contacts and gain knowledge. For example, use social media to connect with industry experts and like-minded individuals, and become active by regularly sharing your insights and experiences.

Finally, I advocate for lifelong learning, which, for me, is a key to success. It's about staying current in your field while also sharpening social and communication skills. Through this continuous personal and professional development, self-confidence is bolstered, and one becomes more adaptable in dealing with changes.