September 6, 2019
For our Women in Tech series , we interview again and again - as the name suggests - women who work in technical professions. This time we visited Airbus, one of the largest aerospace and defence companies in the world. The day started at the Center for Applied Air Research. Three women, with different backgrounds, reported on their path and their work at Airbus: Daniela Lohwasser, Sandra Bour Schaeffer and Sine Sprätz.
Actually, we only arrived with the intention of conducting three interviews with three exciting women. But we didn’t expect anything more. It was incredibly nice to see that the film scenes suddenly turned into really stimulating conversations. One of these conversations even resulted in an appointment to have a cup of coffee soon, in order to continue talking about the topic that had begun. Again and again we recreated movie scenes with Daniela, Sandra and Sine. For example, an employee of Airbus Daniela Lohwasser explained her project, about which she is currently writing her bachelor thesis. Daniela was so interesting that it was difficult to interrupt her after the shot scene.
There was also a similar scene at Sine’s factory. An employee explained to a scene on a monitor what is controlled, with which program and how the process works. This resulted in the plan for an appointment, where the two meet for coffee and talk about exactly this topic. All this is possible through bringing together people with different attitudes, experiences and perspectives who might not have met at all but yet come together and have potential for something big!
Now we want to introduce you to our three interview partners and give you insider reports from our day:
Daniela Lohwasser is the head of Airbus research and technology. For her work she is much in exchange with engineers, who are spread all over the world, to promote the latest methods and aircraft innovations. In the past she had completely different plans, She actually wanted to become a musician. Her fascination with the transverse flute continues to this day. What should actually become her profession is now a nice balance to her professional activity at Airbus. But also the mentoring program of Airbus is very close to Daniela Lohwasser’s heart. When she started at Airbus 20 years ago, she was particularly inspired in her work by her mentor at the time. He asked her the right questions to show her other perspectives. This attitude has shaped her to this day and she would like to pass it on in her current role as a mentor. It is not only other Airbus employees who benefit from this, but she herself as well, as she always gets a new, refreshing look at things she already knows.
Dr. Sandra Bour-Schaeffer is an engineer at Airbus and actually works at the Toulouse site. She is the head of Airbus Group Demonstrators and CEO of Airbus ExO Aplha. This is an innovation start-up right in the heart of Airbus. Here, change is being driven mainly in the test laboratory with new working methods and experimental processes. Dr. Sandra Bour-Schaeffer has been a test pilot engineer at Airbus for years and told us enthusiastically about her experiences. She studied aerospace engineering and then did her doctorate to find out what it feels like to be at the forefront of research. What particularly motivated her to start out in a multinational company was her multicultural background. Her mother comes from Germany, her father from France, her uncle from England and her cousin from Spain. She has therefore always been able to experience Europe and international exchange is still particularly important to her today.
Sine Sprätz is the head of industrial digitalization. As an initially dual student at Airbus, she now heads the digital change in the production of the A350 in Hamburg. Her focus is on DDMS, Automation & Robotics, Augmented Reality and the work of the future (New Work). She grew up in Hamburg and was able to observe the aircraft from an early age, which was the motivation for her to continue this early enthusiasm. Sine showed us an insight into the work in her team. LEGO® Serious Play® was just being used in the team to consider how aircraft could be built in the future. LEGO® Serious Play® is an agile method that combines the advantages of playing and modelling with the processes of today’s working world. In Sine’s stories, you can feel how important it is for her to use the work of the future and new methods in the team.
After the interview we went to the Protospace of Airbus. If you come into this hall as a layman, you immediately feel like “doing handicrafts”. Everywhere there are devices and machines that invite you to make different things. Employees in this area can try out what flying will look like in the future. For example, aircraft models are produced using 3D printing. Daniele Lohwasser explained that this is a relatively inexpensive and fast method for testing possible changes and their effects or carrying out measurements.
Our last stop was the Airbus plant in Finkenwerder. After we had signed that we “always let aircraft take the lead on the site”, we were allowed to enter. Passing the historic aircraft standing on the site, we went to Sine Sprätz and the hangar where the A350 is being built. She explained to us how thin the outer skin of these planes is. Listening to her, you could feel the enthusiasm she had for airplanes from childhood.
All three women work in technical professions. You can see what this means for them and what their attitudes are on the subject of “Women in technological professions” in the new film that will soon be released on our YouTube channel moinworld. So the best thing to do is just subscribe and you won’t miss a thing.