Roxana Diaconu, HELLA Romania: ”The future of business services is process automation, with a human touch”
“In our business, in our company, empowerment is not determined by gender, but by competence. There are whole departments, like Controlling, Finance, Human Resources, that are dominated by female employees,” Roxana Diaconu, Head of Controlling department, HELLA Romania told Automotive Today.
“Like their male colleagues that are in the same field, they are evaluated solely by their skills. It is about paying attention to details, the ability to mix the needs of the market with the needs of the business, but also proactiveness, good communication and good instincts when it comes to spotting problems and coming with improvement ideas for the operational sector.”
What are the challenges you are trying to address in empowering and promoting women in your company and overall, at the level of entire industry?
In the department that I run, which operates in the area of business services, women represent the majority. But it is not gender that defines our activity in the area of financial, it is the professional qualification, the degree of involvement and the ability to evolve that make the difference.
It is however true that automotive is a dynamic field, with high pressure on cost, so in order to lead the Controlling department one has to know the business, the industry’s challenges, to be able to interact with different operational functions and to have the flexibility and openness to listen to people’s problems.
Which are the main aspects needing improvements in order to ensure a stronger empowerment of women’s role within the automotive industry?
Even though this used to be an issue in the past, regarding all so-called “masculine” fields of economy, nowadays we are living in a different world. In our business, in our company, empowerment is not determined by gender, but by competence. There are whole departments, like Controlling, Finance, Human Resources, that are dominated by female employees. Like their male colleagues that are in the same field, they are evaluated solely by their skills. It is about paying attention to details, the ability to mix the needs of the market with the needs of the business, but also proactiveness, good communication and good instincts when it comes to spotting problems and coming with improvement ideas for the operational sector.
As we witness convergence between the automotive sector and information and communications technologies (ICTs), how has working in the auto industry changed in the past decade?
My whole professional experience is linked to the automotive field, and I can tell that, after 15 years of working in Controlling, we are now facing the pressure, but at the same time, the opportunity to be more inter-connected, with focus on process automation, standardization, and cost optimization. All these have as a result the increase of the company profit margin.
HELLA Corporate Center, that integrates administrative services in HELLA Romania, such as the Controlling department, has recently become a global center with increased recognition within the HELLA network as a competence center for standardized and automated processes.
We provide unique services for HELLA worldwide, with employees who develop and implement complex projects and processes, in international virtual teams. So, if we are to talk about the use of new communication technologies in our field, it is from the angle of digitalization of our activity. We are focusing more and more on this approach because the future of superior business services is this – fluid, fast processes, many with the use of robotized tools, and involved, unconventional thinkers that run them.
Can you share with us the most remarkable accomplishments related to your workplace and professional evolution?
I started my work in HELLA Romania as the employee no. 5., 15 years ago, working in a small office, which led to this moment, when I am running the Controlling department of 110 people. It has been a time of continuous growth for us. I have supported in evolution a whole group of managers and team leaders from inside the department. All our key-players here have a 10-year history in the department, some of them came here as students and went on to hold important roles within the worldwide team. Our employees have been sharing their knowledge with HELLA colleagues in China, Germany, Lithuania, USA, or Mexico. So, this is our greatest accomplishment, raising a department, building a team that today delivers services of superior quality, some of them unique, not only to the Romanian locations, but also to the worldwide network of the organization. Because there is a whole range of global competences that has been transferred here, to Timisoara.
Looking back, I am glad to see that we have managed to build a stable work environment, a ground where experienced professionals can continue to evolve, and young talented specialists can build a career. HELLA Romania is now amidst a new wave of development, so a dynamic workspace like the one we’ve created in our department is prepared to welcome new enthusiasts, passionate about excellence, out-of-the-box thinkers.
Can you describe the challenges and opportunities for innovation in the automotive sphere?
The most important challenge for us is to find the balance between the pre-financing the costs of the development projects aligned to the megatrends of electrification or autonomous driving and the effort to stay competitive on today’s market. At the same time, we are focused on innovative idea in business services, like robotizations, to reduce the use of precious resources, such as human involvement in certain tasks. We acknowledge that resources must be centered on our research and development activities because this means true vision. It is about keeping the pace at the right speed. It is important to be at the forefront of this journey, as the future is for those who come prepared.