It is said that if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. This aptly describes Daimler AG board of management member and car enthusiast Britta Seeger, who has been with the company since 1989. But make no mistake, she has worked hard through the years to build her illustrious career with the multinational automotive corporation — beginning with her first role at the Mercedes-Benz headquarters — and she has savoured every moment of it.
“If you join a company in your early twenties, you don’t think that much ahead,” says Seeger. “After 28 years with the company, I can still say that it is the best brand I can imagine to work for. [After all these years] I’m still in love with Mercedes,” she shares as we cruise in a sleek, new C 300 in designo selenite grey magno at an international press event.
Seeger says her passion for cars developed almost naturally, having grown up “surrounded by a thriving automotive industry”.
“I grew up in the Stuttgart region and I loved the brand — that was obvious to me,” Seeger explains her early introduction to the German luxury marque. Born in Bonn, Germany, she sat for the Abitur (examinations in the final year of secondary school) at the Friedrich-Schiller Grammar School in Fellbach and went on to obtain a degree in business administration from University of Cooperative Education in Stuttgart.
She is currently a member of Daimler AG’s board of management for Mercedes-Benz’s marketing and sales division, which, to her, is the most thrilling area to work in. She describes her role as being “the advocate of the customer”.
“On one part, the job is to look for trends, gauge what customers need and determine whether to incorporate them into the product. For this, my team and I collaborate with national sales organisations around the globe. The other part is providing the best customer experience — be it face-to-face or online. It is a continuous effort to push for excellence in this regard.”
When asked about the best aspect of her job, Seeger struggles to narrow down her choices. “Do I have to pick only one?” she asks with a laugh before sharing her top three options. “First of all, I love cars and [driving] stick.” Admitting that she is spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting her favourite model, she explains that she would choose different cars for different occasions. “Driving a convertible in summer is the best thing. If I want sheer driving pleasure, I would pick the AMG GT,” she adds, aptly encapsulating the multifaceted nature of the brand and its wide range of offerings that cater for various segments of the market.
“Second, if you work in the car business — and especially so with Mercedes, a global brand — the work environment is very diverse. I might wake up and speak to a colleague in Australia and at the end of the day, I might speak with one in the US,” says the 49-year-old.
The third aspect, she says, is the challenging nature of the job, which she relishes.
Travelling for work is a given for Seeger, who spent a number of years abroad. Before assuming her current role, she was director, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks Korea Mercedes-Benz Korea Ltd in Seoul and later vice-president, president and CEO at Mercedes-Benz Türk AS in Istanbul.
“I had the chance to see various functions in the company,” says Seeger. Some of her recent appointments include director of sales and marketing parts in 2010, director of service operations and service sales in 2008 and senior manager of product management, Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and smart after-sales, in 2006. “Working with colleagues with other spectrums of responsibilities broadens your perspective dramatically and being equipped with these changing perspectives allows me to give back to the company,” she explains.
Over her years with the company, Seeger has seen the brand proposition and positioning evolve. “When I started, we were a very — if not the most — respected brand but there was a slight tendency to perceive us as conservative. Now, we are not only a respected but a beloved brand as well.”
That said, some fundamentals remain. “We may be more modernised but the key DNA of the brand and what we want to deliver — namely our perfection level and offering the best to the customer — are core to what we strive to provide every day. Providing the best customer experience happens not only in research and development but also in the area of sales and marketing.”
Going forward, Seeger says the goal is to move the company and the marketing and sales division into the future. The transformation will involve aspects such as connectivity, autonomous driving, sharing services and electric vehicles and is a challenge that she will undoubtedly rise to.
This article first appeared on July 16, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.