Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In this installment of “5 Minutes With,” we get to know Anna Heinendirk, director marketing and strategy & business development, Automotive Aftermarket Americas for Schaeffler.
What was your first job in the industry?
Before I joined the aftermarket on a permanent basis, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the industry working as a consultant on a project for a large German vehicle manufacturer. During the course of the project, we developed KPIs for the aftersales division of the company. I had never thought about the parts logistics of a repair shop before. For instance, how do you get the parts for all kinds of vehicles to the shop in a very short time and without having a huge inventory on-site? It’s everyday business for me now, but back then, it was an entirely new world.
Some years later, I started my first full-time job in the Automotive Aftermarket division of Schaeffler, as part of our global strategy team in Langen, Germany. During that time, I learned a lot about the automotive aftermarket industry around the globe – especially how it differs between countries and regions.
What would you say you like most about your current position?
My job combines marketing and strategy into one position, which is not a common job description at Schaeffler. However, I think it is very valuable, because I can use my understanding of strategy to better develop and execute our marketing initiatives. The company goals and long-term strategy are very familiar, so it comes in handy when aligning both.
Through the marketing responsibility, I was able to be much more involved with our customers, which is great in making sure that our strategy follows the customers’ needs. At the end of the day, we do what we do to serve our customers and to keep the world moving.
I also enjoy the diversity of the region. Business in the U.S. is different than business in Mexico, which is different than business in South America. From economic situations and developments to, of course, cultures. This is both challenging and fun.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
I was not particularly looking for a career in the automotive aftermarket after years in the consulting industry, but I knew I wanted to stay in the automotive industry.
Schaeffler caught my attention as an employer because it is both a large global organization and family-owned. The values of passion, excellence, innovation and sustainability reflect my own values very well. In addition, Schaeffler provides great career and personal development opportunities.
And not to forget, the industry: The automotive aftermarket as an extension of the automotive industry is undergoing a tremendous change. Tackling these challenges as an industry requires an open mind and the willingness to change and be part of the transformation. This is very inspiring to me and by nature, bears a lot of opportunities.
What do you do when not at work?
When I am not working, you will find me running, reading or meeting friends. I started running during the pandemic and ran a half-marathon and a couple of 10Ks and I stuck to it. It is like meditating to me, but I am moving at the same time.
What kind of car do you drive?
2019 Mercedes-Benz C300.
What one word best sums up your personality?
What are you currently reading?
A couple of weeks ago I finished reading “My Life in Full” by Indra Nooyi. Ms. Nooyi was one of the first female CEOs of a Fortune 50 company. Her story is very inspiring – she is a hard-working and exceptional leader and a great strategist. The decisions she implemented at PepsiCo 10 years ago, especially around work flexibility and childcare, have been trailblazing. She shows that the investment in these benefits results in increasing productivity and employee satisfaction.
“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill.