The content of the Podcast

When Alice Bennati started working in the automotive market 22 years ago, Alice was the only woman in almost every room she entered. She faced conscious and unconscious sexist bias from all of her colleagues, especially her supervisor, who could not stand the idea of a working mother. Even though juggling private and work life have been a struggle for her along the way, she did not give up on her job, but persisted on finding the actual reason for her exhaustion and acted on it.


Career & Applying | Science, Digitization & Technology

Details about the speaker

Alice Bennati is Italian, married with a German and they have two children. She graduated in Physics at the University of Milan. Today she is located in Munich (Germany) working as an Automotive Senior Business Operations Manager in the Quality Management Organization for Micron Technology. She is leading a team and is responsible for compliance to customer requirement and support.

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[0:08] Moderation: Hi and welcome! You’re listening to the herCareer Voice Podcast. This podcast is the one to listen to for diverse perspectives about the social, political and scientific aspects that define our workplaces and especially the female career planning. Whether it’s professional growth and self development ,entrepreneurship, finances or the balance between our professional and private lives : We want to know more about female careers, learnings, experiences and challenges and learn how these women have grown from them.

Alice Bennati is today’s speaker. When she started working in the automotive market 22 years ago Alice was the only woman in almost every room she entered. She faced conscious and unconscious sexist bias from all of her colleagues especially her supervisor who could not stand the idea of a working mother. Even though juggling private and work life has been a struggle for her along the way she did not give up on her job but persisted on finding the actual reason for her exhaustion and acted on.

[1:32] Alice Bennati: My name is Alice Bennati and I am a automotive senior manager. I’m working in a global quality organization responsible for automotive customer support in a worldwide semiconductor company. I would like to give you an overview of my professional life and also some pillars based on my experience about how as a woman you could survive in such a high technology market, as the automotive segment is.

I graduated in physics. And I have started to work on a semiconductor company 22 years ago.I made a lot of experiences in marketing for memory segment, then 13 years ago I moved to the automotive team of my company. At this time your automotive segment was still very small. The main application was the power train. So the team dedicated to this segment also was very technical and mainly made of electronic engineers. All men.

This was also the time where the first managing end have been developed for the infotainment application for the cars. So I had the chance to contribute on the startup of this new family for automotive. This was amazing. In fact in this situation you have to do so manyt hings and this is the opportunity to learn a lot. I made a very important experience: working with the engineering team, the marketing team, the supply chain, operation by guaranteed support of the sampling phase and the ramp up of a customer level in term of production.

[3:17] Step by step I got a team and I increased my experience working also on the change management process for automotive and on the compliance to the customer requirement. Recently I’ve moved to a global quality team and I’m still responsible for the main automotive customer requirement. For example: the P pop, document and the related compliance. I’m leading a team that is spread all over the world. This is the professional part of my life.

In parallel I have my private life. I have a family with two children and even a dog. And as all women I had and I still have to deal with all the problems related to the work-life-balance. I have to say I had to face a difficult situation during my life. And I know what it means being stressed and becoming demotivated. So, for that reason, I would like to share with you some pillars I got from other women that helped me to improve my work-life-balance.

In a man’s world I had to deal with managers with a lot of unconscious or well conscious biases. In fact I was joining the working world later than the normal expectation, because I had to take care of my little brother for long time, because he was very sick. And my first boss was terrible in the situation. He was always saying to me that I married too old for my position and I wasn’t even married. However, I got married and I got two children. And it became even worse.

[5:00] My career stopped even when I came back to work full time very soon after. At the same time my husband was travelling a lot. So I was alone with my children. And with that boss! I have to wait for a couple of years to find a solution. But somewhen I found the energy to change and I started working at an automotive organization that – as I said before – was for me something like a revenge, where I put a lot of energy into.

Not everything was fantastic. I had to travel. That was not easy with two little children and often on top of that at a certain time my little daughter suddenly got seriously ill and she needed several specific therapies – and she still needs it. I was so stressed and overloaded that I was starting to say: I will stop working. And I will stay at home.

I have heard some women managers saying something that is, in my opinion, really true: Try to find the reason of the stress and don’t give up everything without thinking. The stress could be caused by your job but also by your boss or by your colleagues. Or maybe by your husband. Don’t give up your desires, if you are experiencing a difficult time. Take your time.

[6:31] But stay focused in faith for your position and your career. If you think that this is the best for you. But also have the courage to have a break in case you need it. Fortunately in my head I kept telling myself, that I don’t want to give up and lose all what I have reached during my life with so many efforts. I’m proud of my career.

I would be even prouder, if I were a director. I think, if I were a man I would already be a director. But I’m working to get to this level. I’m proud to have survived in a man’s world. I often was the only woman so the pressure on me was very high. I changed my job recently, because I want to have a new challenge but also because my boss started to tell me that I don’t need to grow, rather I should take care of my family, my salary were enough. But I decide if my salary is enough!

[7:34] And now this is for you: Some suggestions that I have collected during several meetings done by top female managers. Be dynamic! Go out of your comfortable zone! Try to do always something new!

Sometime you will be not lucky, but sometime you will, and you will grow from situations.For the same reason don’t stay in the same organization waiting for a career improvement for too long! Maybe your boss doesn’t believe in you, but maybe he cannot do anything for you. So changing is always an opportunity. Apply to a new position regularly. Don’t expect that your profile is fitting 100% of the requirements of the new position. Men are applying to positions when 20% of the requirement is fitting their profile. So take the chance, don’t wait!

Then create strategies for dealing with stress and work-life-balance. For example, set the key priorities and allocate a percentage in order of your preference – and ensure it sums up to 100%. Don’t plan for 145% of your time, because you don’t have it! You would only get a burnout.Be resilient. Everyone can have a problem at every time. Be proactive and manage the problem. Be enthusiastic. And most important of all: Don’t allow anybody to tell you that your salary is enough for a woman. Work doesn’t have a gender.

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