“We’re On the Path to a New Culture – Let’s Keep It Going”
Heiko Pohl has been working at Volkswagen for over 20 years. He started in engine development, and continues to work in development today – albeit for Group Overall Vehicle Development. He’s successful. People listen to him – and say, “We need to learn from one another.” He promotes communication between brands, creates synergies and deals with topics that affect the entire vehicle. In his role, he was involved in developing a uniform process for measuring emissions.
Inside: What points of contact do you have with the topic of integrity in your work?
Heiko Pohl: Integrity is a daily concern for all of us, in everything we do. Regardless of the task I set myself, it comes down to how I achieve my goals. What’s important is that the processes are justifiable and ethical.
Inside: Was there a situation in your work where integrity was especially important?
Pohl: We were faced with the particular challenge of generating a uniform process for measuring emissions (known as PEMS measurements), because, until then, these measurements had only been carried out on a random sample basis and in different ways by each brand. So I was on the road with the brands to define a uniform approach. The question here was, “Does the process meet all the requirements? Can it be communicated to the outside world in this way, and does it correspond to our ideas of integrity?”
Inside: Every one of us has had to face critical situations in everyday working life, where it’s important to make the right decision...
Pohl: ... I have a relatively recent example of this. There was a decision by our Board of Management to change a certain function in the car. Our department feared that this could have led to operating errors. That’s why we didn’t want to accept this decision as it was. We’ve gathered all the information and facts and, with the support of colleagues from the Safety in Use team and Ms. Werner, we have once again put the topic up for discussion by the Board. The facts convinced the Board. So we recognized the potential disadvantages in operation, and were able to implement a good solution. I think this experience made it clear to us that it’s worthwhile to speak openly about things. And we learned that our Board of Management has no problem reconsidering a decision if the facts are correct. We’re on the path to a new culture – let’s keep it going.
Inside: In your opinion, how can integrity be promoted even more?
Pohl: A lot is already being done. I think it is important that supervisors model this culture of openness, of sharing opinions on equal footing and of integrity. I think we all have room to grow in that regard. I think there is still potential at all management levels to better support us, and we ourselves can do much more. But that will take time, of course.