Ulrike Klein loves a good challenge. She is passionate about inspiring others and once she has set her mind to something, nothing can stop her. No matter whether or not others think that is possible.
She grew up at the edge of the German lignite open pit mining area of Inden in North Rhine Westphalia. In 1999, her entire home town was relocated and removed soon after. Maybe that was the beginning of her great journey?
As an engineering draftswoman with a background in mechanical engineering, a career in industry seemed to be an obvious choice for her. What was more surprising – both for her family and for herself – was the decision to enroll at FH Aachen University of Applied Sciences. A new challenge for Ulrike? – Accepted! Difficult exams with failure rates of 85% may have been new to her, but no reason to give up. Her grade point average was excellent and it was not long before a professor approached her. He asked whether she could picture studying at Tongji University in Shanghai and perhaps even write her thesis there. China – a foreign country – a new challenge? Accepted! Ulrike went to China. Learning Mandarin for everyday use was an obvious action to take; Shanghai, with more than 20 million people was not. Nevertheless, she fell in love – most of all with the country.
“China grabbed me from the very beginning. As soon as I arrived, I didn’t want to leave.”
And it was China that led Ulrike to AT&S. In 2015, she came across an advertisement for the International Talent Program of AT&S. The only thing Ulrike knew at the time was the she wanted to do it and that printed circuit boards were green. During the line tour of the shop floor of Leoben, she found out more, learning that PCBs also exist in other colors. Then she spent nine weeks doing shift work, followed by a year in Quality Management in Leoben. Although Leoben was not exactly a cosmopolitan city like Shanghai, compared to Inden it was at least urban. Eventually, she went on a three-year assignment to Chongqing. There, she wanted to be more than the only western woman, that people stared at, and fought for every little bit of responsibility. A new challenge for Ulrike? – Accepted! She built a network and today she is glad that she personally knows many important decision-makers, worldwide and in China.
However, she relocated to the headquarters after only two years. Would she have to return to Leoben, although the three years were not yet over?
“Yield Management in Corporate Quality was something I really wanted to do because of the data-driven work. I know a thing or two about that. I also wanted to stay in China for the last of the three years, because of the personal challenge, but doing both was not possible.”
Ulrike has now won the AT&S Innovation Award twice as project leader. For the first time with the Intelligent Predictive Decision System 1.0 2018 and last year again with the BlueBox – Work smarter, not harder!
Now, she works at the headquarters in Leoben again or from home, as a Data Analytics Manager, and is currently building up a new department. For which she is still looking for colleagues to continue this journey with her, by the way.
Of course, Ulrike’s own personal journey is still ongoing and currently often leads her to Vienna, where she is working on her MBA specializing in Digital Transformation & Data Science at the University of Economics and Business. She does that on the side – she might run out of challenges otherwise.
Profile Ulrike Klein
With AT&S since: February 2016
Strategy & Transformation, Data & Analytics Manager: August 2020 – present
Group Quality, Quality Assurance Specialist: March 2019 – July 2020
CHQ SLP – Senior Quality Engineer: March 2017 – February 2019
International Talent Program: February 2016 – February 2017