Nadine, you’ve been working for MAN Truck & Bus since 2005. As Head of Engineering Strategy & Steering, you’re responsible for all functional strategic topics within engineering. Prior to this, you worked as a purchaser and later as a product and project manager, among other roles. How has your multifaceted career path equipped you to actively shape the future of MAN and the TRATON GROUP?

Many engineers only look for jobs in development. I was also drawn to other areas of the company. With my experience of different working areas, I’m more of an exception. This diverse experience enables me to look at things from different angles. Due to my previous roles, I also have a broad knowledge of the company and a good, wide-ranging network. This helps me to exchange ideas with colleagues and obtain additional perspectives. Working in various positions, I’ve repeatedly experienced different forms of change. During periods of transformation, I’ve witnessed first-hand the importance of effective communication between employees and the leadership team.

In addition to developing MAN Engineering’s functional strategy, your key tasks also include driving the transformation of R&D, optimizing product costs, and benchmarking. How do you and your team manage all this? What qualifications and skills are required for these tasks?

Our team consists of highly motivated and highly qualified men and women with different academic and professional backgrounds. They keep track of the transformation, initiate many processes, and provide our company and the TRATON GROUP with a strong and sustainable structure. This is a very challenging task that requires colleagues who have expertise in change and show a willingness to change, while being receptive to other points of view. It’s therefore imperative that the members of my team are, above all, good listeners: they must be empathetic and have a good understanding of human nature. We also need to remember how important it is to be spontaneous and adaptable in our work. In addition to managing our core subject area, we also fulfill roles as mediators, coaches, and motivational trainers.

How do you maintain this approach consistently, and daily, while collaborating with the three other TRATON GROUP brands?

This is also very much about the human factor. I can’t demand trust; trust must grow. This happens through communication and transparency as well as via open and constructive exchange. There can, of course, be heated discussions from time to time – but these are always in relation to the subject matter, and never on a personal level. It’s about working together to find the best solution and a good compromise. Achieving this requires perseverance and the will to change. It’s also important to share common goals.

So it’s all about finding compromises?

That's right! Compromises at eye-level are crucial. They foster the trust required for successfully implementing tasks. And once trust is established, it lays a solid foundation for tackling subsequent tasks and exploring new forms of cooperation.

A glance into the production hall of MAN Truck & Bus in Munich, where cutting-edge technologies and innovative processes are shaping the future of transport.

As Head of Engineering Strategy & Steering, your main focus relates to MAN’s strategic direction. As a mechanical engineer, do you ever feel the urge to return to the factory floor?

Of course. When it comes to cost optimization, I can still work on a product-related basis. And I can’t deny that our products serve as a source of inspiration for me. That’s also the reason why I opted for the commercial vehicle sector – trucks and buses ignite my passion. But strategic tasks are also extremely exciting and deliver new experiences every day.

Nadine Müller R&D
Nadine Müller, Head of Engineering Strategy & Steering at MAN Truck & Bus, discusses her pivotal role in advancing the transformation of the transport industry during the "Women in R&D" forum.

What skills, values or characteristics are crucial to mastering the challenges of the future in the transportation industry?

A willingness to change is definitely one of them. Everything is becoming faster-moving, more international, more global, more diverse. If I lack effective strategies for navigating change in pursuit of my goals within this context, it will prove to be extremely challenging. That’s why it’s very important for me to respond to change with curiosity rather than fear. Teamwork is also a decisive factor: if someone is on their own – no matter how clever they are – it’s almost impossible to get things moving and drive them forward. Successful implementation of changes relies on the involvement of the right individuals behind the scenes, with the task spread across many shoulders. Precisely due to the fact things are moving at a quicker pace, the goal must be clearly defined. This also includes a healthy error culture. Mistakes should be seen as an opportunity to learn something and do better next time.

What does it mean to you to be part of something bigger transforming the entire TRATON GROUP?

I am aware that with my work, my input, and my ideas, I influence the future daily work of thousands of colleagues and am therefore also responsible for the long-term success or failure of the TRATON GROUP. That’s a pretty big responsibility. As part of this community, I have the unique opportunity to contribute to the future of the transport industry.

What drives you to give your best every day?

The enjoyment of solving complex problems is what cultivates my strong will. As an engineer, I always say there’s no such thing as ‘can’t’. And this mantra can be applied to nearly every challenge.