In conversation with Heike Borst, Head of HR at smart Europe
Heike Borst is the recently appointed new Head of HR of smart Europe. In the past she worked for other companies as Chief People Officer and Senior HR Manager and was a lecturer at a professional association for education. She has been active in the field of employee training and human resources for over 15 years. Read our interview with her to find out why she loves her job, why she came to smart Europe and what drives her in her work.
4 questions for Heike, who works with her team to make our great and certified working culture a little bit better every day.
1. On LinkedIn you have stated that you are a people enthusiast. What does this statement mean to you and what aspects of your philosophy would you like to implement in a way it becomes beneficial for smart and its employees?
For me, being a people enthusiast means that when working with and for people principles of attitude and action are more important than rules. I am not here to administer. Part of this philosophy is to facilitate the work for all our colleagues working at smart by keeping their back free while having the individual needs in mind. So, to guarantee that, the first step is to ask what employees need to do their jobs well. I value the differences of everyone and try to find the best approach that does justice to the individual, but at the same time balances the interests of others, including the company itself. At the end of the day, it helps not just our own teams, but also the customers and partners and the relationship with them.
2. What motivated you to work with an e-mobility brand like smart? What’s different than before?
I wanted to work for a brand that has a sustainable mindset. As a society, we need to change our behaviors and I see myself as a part of that much needed change by working for an EV company. We are a “one culture mindset” company, that is active in 11 markets and have people from over 40 different nationalities working together here at smart. This creates a diversity of perspectives and I see my role as bringing these perspectives together to form a team and achieve the best possible outcome. This differs from my former work where I was responsible for bringing different work cultures together within a group of companies.
3. smart is a global brand. Over 40 nationalities are working at smart Europe. What culture is necessary to empower a diverse international team and lead the people team of a car brand like smart? What do you think is the biggest challenge for you at the moment in your new setting?
A culture of openness and acceptance is needed to moderate a diverse brand. Diversity is a benefit, but it has to be moderated. As we are a “one culture mindset” brand one might think it is easy to do so, but it is still a task as I want to embrace everyone and everything to make it beneficial for the whole company.
4. You started working for smart Europe in July 2023. What are you looking forward to the most during the next months? Which goals have you already set for yourself?
I am most looking forward to the happy faces after the market launch of smart #1 in all our markets. It will be nice for our employees to see their work resulting in the first sold cars and seeing more and more vehicles on European streets will make them happy as well as our customers. The HR department will support the process of recruiting and team building. As I mentioned before: HR is here to facilitate the way of working for all employees.
The main goal I have is to position smart as an attractive employer brand. We are known for being a great product brand, but it is still unknown to many that we have benefits like up to 180 possible days of remote working. Additionally, our cultural diversity is surely a plus for people that want to work at smart. We have so much more to offer than other traditional players in the automotive industry: We are closer to customers, that's something wonderful. And colleagues can take on a lot of responsibility here early on. We were also awarded as a “Great place to work” this year. Something we want to build up further in the future.