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Digital solutions for Finance.

In the Finance Solutions team of Mercedes-Benz Cars, software developers work hand in hand with data scientists to create digital solutions for Finance. At the Stuttgart-Vaihingen location, the product owner Mariya Stroemsdoerfer controls the development of a data analytics application. In her interview, the business data processing specialist talked about her most important role, which personal strengths comes to the fore here and what never fails to delight her.

Hello Mariya! As product owner, you are responsible for a data analytics app that is designed to help the colleagues in Finance. What exactly can this app do, and who is the target group?

The app uses artificial intelligence to help the colleagues to identify various different KPIs (key performance indicators). Thanks to the app, this takes place almost fully automatically, as an algorithm calculates specific parameters in the background. The colleagues thus save time and can therefore focus on the analysis, for example. The app is a good example of how artificial intelligence can create added value in the company.

"I am responsible for planning our software products and also their strategic further development, that means looking and seeing in what direction things need to go in the long term."
"I am responsible for planning our software products and also their strategic further development, that means looking and seeing in what direction things need to go in the long term."

How long does it take to develop such an app, and what precisely is your role here?

We are continuously enhancing the application, as there are frequently changes in related areas and in the Mercedes-Benz infrastructure. I have various different roles but the most important one is: To solve problems (laughs). As what is known as the product owner, I am responsible for planning our software products and also their strategic further development, which means looking and seeing in what direction things need to go in the long term. And I am of course the contact for our colleagues in the specialist unit who use the app.

So your role is both strategic and operational. Which of your skills are particularly relevant here?

Besides conventional soft skills such as empathy or respect towards others, a product owner must above all have an agile attitude. I look at things from the customer's perspective, get people on board, communicate a lot, act diplomatically and identify systemic relationships. The ability to solve problems and, of course, a business mindset are just as important. I ensure that those requirements are implemented in the application that offer the highest added value for our organization, and at the same time keep an eye on the costs.

How can we picture your team?

The Finance Solutions team consists of colleagues with an extremely wide range of qualifications, including a lot of product owners, data scientists, data engineers, business and Agile experts, full stack developers and IT architects. It is a very large area that is on the way to becoming a data-driven product organization. We bundle our activities according to the products which will be developed to create synergies.

And how would you describe the cooperation within the team?

In every project, we work in a very agile manner right from the start. To be more precise, we work according to the organization and workflow principles of the Scaled Agile Framework, known as SAFe for short. SAFe is a framework for agile scaling and supports development teams in mastering the challenges associated with the coordination of several teams, processes and programmes in order to deliver a uniform product. Our customers are also part of the team in the development, as the focus is on their requirements. My task is to prioritise these requirements and weigh them up according to the feasibility. The colleagues who provide us with the data are also involved so that their requirements for the application and our requirements for their systems match. There is therefore very close cooperation with various different areas so that we can create added value for Mercedes-Benz together.

"This is essential for me at work: Mutual respect, trust and transparent communication."
"This is essential for me at work: Mutual respect, trust and transparent communication."

Your interest in analytics, software and leadership led you to continuing your professional development in this direction. How did you manage to do this?

Learning by doing, and as Mercedes-Benz supports lifelong learning, this is the perfect fit for me. Alongside my job, I continued my professional developmentin fields such as IT and cloud architectures as well as software engineering, attended symposiums and webinars, and built up a network where I can exchange information and ideas. Of course, I also made mistakes and learned from them. This is how I gradually built up experience in these areas. Somewhere along the line, I noticed that this is really something I am passionate about, and I can live this to the full now in my current position in the software development team.

You have been part of the Mercedes-Benz family since 2018. You were previously a management consultant and a university lecturer for statistics. What originally brought you to Mercedes-Benz?

To me, the Mercedes-Benz strategy of combining electric mobility and luxury is convincing and challenging alike. It really is fun to be part of the current change! In my time as a management consultant, I missed the continuity of working in just one company. Then I got to know two managers from Finance at Mercedes-Benz. Their drive and enthusiasm for the transformation in the automotive industry really inspired me. By deciding to join Mercedes-Benz, I now have the desired constancy and at the same time things are never boring! I am always thrilled like a small child when I see the media reporting positively on our strategies. I feel like I am part of this.

What makes working at Mercedes-Benz special for you?

Above all it's the feeling of being appreciated and trusted, both in my team and when working with other areas. This is essential for me at work: Mutual respect, trust and transparent communication. These are my values, which I always try to implement when I work with others.

The digital transformation is advancing in all areas. What challenges do you see in digitalisation for Finance?

We are moving towards a network organisation with the data culture required for this purpose. This will necessitate a rethink. Instead of thinking in organizational units, it will be necessary for us to network with various different areas. On the one hand this is a transformation that will take place on a technical level, and on the other it must also happen in the minds of employees and managers.

Which software still needs to be developed for your everyday life?

I wouldn't mind a robot that did the ironing, folded the laundry, prepared lunch, answered emails and took the dog out for a walk. That would be nice (laughs).

Mariya Stroemsdoerfer came to Germany in 2009 from her home in Siberia with a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service to study business administration at the Philipps University in Marburg. There she also met her husband, who also works at Mercedes-Benz today. The parents of a two-year-old son live in the Swabian Alb. When they are out and about with their son and the dog, they sometimes chat about work and give each other tips for problem-solving approaches. For the time being they have put their start-up in the field of machine learning on the