April 28, 2021

A female fighter in a manufacturing SME

Augmented reveals the stories behind the new era of industrial operations, where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers. In episode 16, the topic is A female fighter in a manufacturing SME. Our guest is Lena Jaentsch, Business Development Specialist at HERMA Group, a German manufacture, interviewed by futurist Trond Arne Undheim. 

In this conversation, we talk about being a champion for new, efficient modes of production, bringing customers value, and also being a young woman in manufacturing. We discuss the challenges in today's manufacturing companies to explore new business models and stay on top of digitalization, yet keep a holistic view. Lena is an innovation manager, and calls herself "a strong but mostly single fighter in the SME space". We discuss the war for talent and why young people don't choose manufacturing. We also discuss the need for a global manufacturing community to exchange information, tools, solutions, and experiences--especially for women.

After listening to this episode, check out Herma as well as Lena Jaentsch's social profile.

  • Herma: https://www.herma.com/
  • Lena Jaentsch: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lena-jaentsch-8b0278191/

Trond's takeaway: "With people like Lena on board, the future of any business would seem bright. She has the kind of limitless energy that characterizes what everyone should aspire to in the workforce. Moreover, she has the guts to go explore new things, learn, adapt, and implement. I predict Lena will move fast up the ladder. In small companies, you don't need many shopfloor managers like that, but you do need some, otherwise you will be left behind."

Thanks for listening. If you liked the show, subscribe at Augmentedpodcast.co or in your preferred podcast player, and rate us with five stars. If you liked this episode, you might also like episode 11 Empowering Workers to Innovate, episode 3 Reimagine Training, and episode 2, How to Train Augmented Workers.  

Augmented--the industry 4.0 podcast.


 #16_A Lone Fighter in SME_Lena-Jaentsch

[00:00:00] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:00:00] Augment, it reveals the stories behind a new era of industrial operations where technology will restore the agility of frontline workers. In episode 16 of the podcast, the topic is a female fighter in a manufacturing SME. Our guest is Lena Jaentsch business development specialist, at HERMA  Group manufacturer.

[00:00:25] In this conversation, we talk about being a champion for new efficient modes of production. Bringing customers value and also being a young woman in manufacturing, we discussed the challenges. Today's manufacturing companies to explore new business models. Stay on top of digitization yet. Keep a holistic view.

[00:00:45] Lena is an innovation manager and calls herself the strong, mostly single fighter in the SME space. We discuss the war for talent and why young people don't choose manufacturing. We also discuss the need, [00:01:00] for a global manufacturing community to exchange information tools and solutions and experiences.  Augmented is a podcast for leaders hosted by futurists Trond Arne Undheim.

[00:01:14] Presented by Tulip.co  and Manufacturing app platform and associated with MFG works, the manufacturing  upskilling community. Launched each episode of dynasty, Patriot a contemporary topic of concern across the industry. Here's 9:00 AM. Eastern time, every Wednesday, Augmented industry 4.0podcast. Lena, how are you today?

[00:01:45] Lena Jaentsch: [00:01:45] Hi, I'm fine. Thanks. Trond how are you doing?

[00:01:48] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:01:48] I'm doing great. So here's my question for you. You have a super interesting background. You're very active in manufacturing. You're young, you're a woman. You're in Europe, all of these things would [00:02:00] indicate that you would be running around. I don't know, on the other types of industries and being excited about other problems. Why are you so engaged in manufacturing?

[00:02:11] Lena Jaentsch: [00:02:11] That´s a good question. I actually, because I previously, I worked for logistics industry and now since three years I'm stepping into manufacturing industry and , it's really interesting. Because you see really where you're, I'm far apart, labeling manufacturer, so labeling machines and you really have to  are you really interact  with the products, you buy them at the supermarket and whether they will comes from, so you're really involved in the production process and you see where all the products come from and they're the origin of it. So that's really interesting and you'd see the work of it.

[00:02:47] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:02:47] There's something very fascinating about physical products I find, it's very tangible work, but as you can see the result right away I don't know, is it that, that, that's the part that fascinates you. [00:03:00] Exactlyy.

[00:03:01] Lena Jaentsch: [00:03:01] And that you see that you're when you, when a customer buys your machine, for instance, you really bring him  a value and a, an addition to their manufacturing, to their production line. So it's really that they want something and you're not only a service provider for instance, but it's a good interaction with the customer as well.

[00:03:19]How did you get involved with this? Was this something you were educated to do? Was this something that was, has been in your family or did you just choose yourself to go into this direction?

[00:03:30] Exactly I just chose it by myself and basically due to my position as a business development manager some people think it's sales, but for me it's more innovation management and product management than everything around, new topics in the industry. So that actually led me to the manufacturing industry. And there's so much work to do.

[00:03:52] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:03:52] There is work to do for sure. So tell me a little bit about what you do on a daily basis. So you are involved with manufacturing, but you're also very [00:04:00] engaged in kind of new production techniques and the digital side. How does that work?

[00:04:05] Lena Jaentsch: [00:04:05] Exactly it's  really exciting. And It's a big way. It's a way big way to go because I'm digital product and manufacturing industry I think this is a new topic. And if I come up with my ideas I self my colleagues get bigger and they look at me as okay, are you serious?

[00:04:22] And it's like we need to think about the future. We need to, it's more, not more not that much about production techniques, but more or less about new digital products. So have something for our customers that really helps them or helps us as well. So it's a good interaction with the departments. Coming up with new ideas surfing a lot in the internet and having discussions with reading discussions, having discussions with other people  involved.

[00:04:50]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:04:50] I wanted to ask you about that as well. You told me that you recently started to engaging in, in Robins. He will be on the podcast too, but on his very new [00:05:00] manufacturing community. Tell me a little bit about how you found that and what is the value of yet another virtual community discussing, maybe there aren't so many in manufacturing, but there are many virtual communities you could engage in. Why did you pick this one? And what is your experience been so far? I'm just curious.

[00:05:17] Lena Jaentsch: [00:05:17] And it's true. There are many communities, but I was actually looking for a random topic. I think it was something about startups and merchant acquisitions in the manufacturing industry, because of course you can do everything by yourself, but there are lots of experts in the world and why not?

[00:05:33]Engaged with it with the other company. So I was looking for just a random topic and found found Robin's block and that was easy written for a complex topic. And then I saw something about the newsletter . I signed up, so that was quite easy and then he was calling out for this community who wants to join, and this was a big application process. So I was like, okay. Am I even suitable for that as a business development [00:06:00] manager and not as this tech woman kinda, but, just applied and luckily I got in, but I think it wasn't that hard.

[00:06:09] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:06:09] You figured that out already, it's a new community.

[00:06:15] Lena Jaentsch: [00:06:15] And there are quite a lot of applicants , there's quite a run on that one. So I was an early one on that on that platform and , I was really curious, getting to know everyone who's signed up and.  I wanted to participate, but also to have a win-win  situation for sure. So I could get something out of it and it only works if you are interactive, if you're not interacting, you cannot get anything out of itIt's great, i t's a great platform to either ask questions, discuss something, get to know people all around the world. This is really interesting that people from so many countries signed in that's really impressive  how they all found this community. This is magicT hat was one of the biggest [00:07:00] issues. Why I think it's so interesting and have a group of people where you exactly know when you drop a question, somebody will react and somebody will tell you something about it, or at least has a network on that or gives you a hint or whatever. You  know that your question is answered it at least somehow.

[00:07:18]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:07:18] So here's my question to your question. You are, as I introduced to UN international European, a woman you are German, I believe, but you took your Plane ticket and or train or whatever, and went to Sweden and got your master of science in UN shipping.

[00:07:34] So you move around you get answers to questions. Why are there so many questions? What are the questions on this forum that, that possibly could be could be so fascinating because I'm just imagining that, you  have a lot of answers already, but why are there so many, what are the questions, that this community can answer to you and also how do you know that these answers are are helpful? Are they actually so detailed that you is [00:08:00] it because they're based in someone else is truly in your role and has maybe more experienced or they have seen different things or is it just sharing? I'm just curious, any community there's different reasons why we're joined  communities.

[00:08:13] I'm just curious in manufacturing,what is the biggest need? Is it to share your experience or is it really to find out new things and new ways of doing things.

[00:08:26] Lena Jaentsch: [00:08:26] That was a long question, but I'd try to answer that. I think it's a mixture of both because manufacturing industry, as I said in the beginning, there's a lot of work to do. So we have a playground where we can move things and develop things, but there is also a massive development going on right now. And there's a, such a huge landscape of software of tools of hardware or techniques and everything and  to get that filtered and to get answers to that question, what might be the best solution for my problem, for the issue [00:09:00] I have right now, then there are lots of experts going around.

[00:09:03] It's okay, I've done it like this, I've done like this. And then you can mix up a little bit. So if you have a concrete question, you have, you might find the right answer, at least get an impression how to solve that. But you could also, we also have a discussion for instance, about women in manufacturing. How can we change that, that I'm not in a meeting with nine men and I'm the only woman in that. This is also, this is more wider topic, so also not finding a right answer, but having discussions on that sharing thoughts. How could we as a kind of small community, give our input on that? And you have real experts in that community as well so if you want to learn some programming or whatever, you could probably drop that question as well and somebody will raise their hand was like, I give you a short introduction to that and you can see whether this interests you or not. And this is great I think so and for me since I'm a [00:10:00] lonely fighter in my company, kinda, and not having a big team around me, it's sometimes also good to  have a community to just discuss some things and get a little bit of a understanding what you're talking about and to have a platform for brainstorming, for instance, and to just share crazy ideas that might not be relevant, but at least have a thought of it.

[00:10:24] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:10:24] So you see yourself as a lonely fighter.

[00:10:27] Lena Jaentsch: [00:10:27] I'm not lonely fighter, but I don't have a big team around me and the topics I'm dealing with. They're more in the future and more many people just think about it. What is doing what is happening now, I need to solve that. And the bigger view is sometimes stopping at tomorrow.

[00:10:45]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:10:45] I see that. What are your thoughts about women in manufacturing? Where is it? Is it going to change anytime soon? And what would it take?

[00:10:56] Lena Jaentsch: [00:10:56] I hope so, actually. And I see good movements. And [00:11:00] I see something, from universities for instance, that they are really cheering out there, their engineering studies and that they really have some girly advertisement for them to catch the woman on that. W e were discussing that today as well and I was thinking about when I graduated from school, what would I want to do with 20? And to be honest Manufacturing, wasn't the first topic in my mind. So I think there's a big,there's a big milestone we need to achieve that this is attractive, that this is raising curiosity that people are really just fascinated by that. And some networks are already evolving, but I think there's lots of steps to go, but I see a movement and that makes me happy.

[00:11:54] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:11:54] So you are already a little bit of a role model, right? Do you, [00:12:00] what do you think. Is the right message to a young woman studying today, maybe not engineering is Manufacturing a way to go. And if so, why?

[00:12:11]Lena Jaentsch: [00:12:11] And I think you don't as I,  I'm not the tech woman. I'm interested in that, but I'm not an expert for that, but I think have at least the side of interest in those topics and be curious about that. Sometimes even enough, if you take a, job as a product manager, our business development or innovation manager or something, you don't have to be that tech or engineering tech. And this is still jobs that are really important for manufacturing industry. So even if you're not interested in all the tech stuff, there's still a way for you to go to manufacturing industry actually and it's really impressive.

[00:12:52] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:12:52] It's impressive. But do you also feel like there are going to be more, there are going to be some unique career opportunities for you [00:13:00] because you are a little bit more unique, know, as  a woman taking charge and making differences and in, in your work process, do you think that Manufacturing soon could be seen as actually a unique niche for women? Because you have such a unique perspective and can make a difference there.

[00:13:20]Lena Jaentsch: [00:13:20] This is hard to answer. I maybe it might be unique for new job positions because the companies need to change and need to develop new business models. If this particularly for women, I am not too sure, but why not a data analyst or data scientist or whatever can be a woman as well. . I guess a niche yes. And for a woman, of course also, but not only for women and i also think weneed to take a bigger role in that company in that industry, but nobody wants the one wants to be the one for the quote [00:14:00] excellence, so it's really hard to differentiate on that.

[00:14:03]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:14:03] One observation, right? Is that you haven't been feeling very bound by geographic boundaries. It seems right you studied in a different country and now you're engaging very deeply in a virtual community. Albeit started by another German, but definitely it's an international community. Much does, that help? That you're not limited by, whoever's in your town even if you are a lonely fighter in your company, you don't seem to be that phased by that you, you find solutions around it you find other people to engage with.

[00:14:35] Lena Jaentsch: [00:14:35] Exactly and to have a digital community. But you see nowadays, especially in this pandemic situation, borders right now, this is really fearful and I'm really afraid of that. But even though the digital legalization and all the tools we have they really eliminate or limit [00:15:00] order this way, and they're not existing anymore. So it doesn't matter where you are. If you have a phone or a video conferencing tool, It's like being a neighbor actually.

[00:15:11] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:15:11] . Isn't that quite strange because the video technology has gotten a lot better, so there's not really an enormous difference, between even you and I, we were introduced and we're meeting and we're talking, it's not so different from being in a neighboring town, being across the Atlantic doesn't make that much of a difference for this conversation.

[00:15:32] Lena Jaentsch: [00:15:32] Exactly and I always think it's really interesting as well. How other countries or companies and other countries work and what their stage of development is, whether somethings we in Germany, you think were too slow and to really have a clear picture, whether this is the truth, or if it's just our perspective that we take. And this is also [00:16:00] quite good about the community and really interesting.

[00:16:03] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:16:03] For sure. The wider, small and medium-sized business community is huge in Germany, but it's big in, in many countries because manufacturing is composed of small firms. It's been stayed, by the world economic forum and by world leaders that is starting to realize. How much of an upscaling challenge they really have, if their firms are going to be able to innovate at the pace that the larger companies are able to, and there a number of barriers have been cited for that, what do you personally think, working in a small, medium sized business, what are the biggest barriers to,  change?

[00:16:44] Lena Jaentsch: [00:16:44] I think their expert knowledge is one of the things which leads probably to a bigger other topic, wall talents. So I have the right employee for the right topics on [00:17:00] board this is something. And then of course, if you have other topics to deal with right now, pandemic situation, nobody or no, nobody is probably too strong, but not everyone is thinking about the future and how to change and how to development now, something for the next five years to be still alive and have the right model for their customers. So I think it's lack of ideas, lack of employees with the right specification and right knowledge skills. . I think this is a mixture of both.

[00:17:35] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:17:35] So the company you work for, it seems to me that they were extremely lucky.

[00:17:42] Lena Jaentsch: [00:17:42] They found me.

[00:17:43] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:17:43] The company you work for are lucky because they found you. So what's your advice to other companies to find fascinating workers that are so engaged and reflective, in the same way that you are. What, how where are people like you found because you said war for [00:18:00] talent, right? Maybe it is a war. But, but it is more complicated than the war because in essence, you know, you're a little bit of a rarity, so how does a tiny company, or even a small, even a smaller company, any company that doesn't have an advertising budget and can go on the worldwide market? What is their strategy to recruit, one or two or three very independent workers that can make a true difference for them in the next few years.

[00:18:30]Lena Jaentsch: [00:18:30] I think this could also be two ways that they could go. For one way, for sure, is the recruitment, of the skills of a skilled worker.

[00:18:41] But I think there interaction and the collaboration with startups it's also quite important for the future because they, you have these expert and that they really love their jobs and they burn for their,  startup and for their company and for their businesses. And if [00:19:00] you get those on board with a collaboration or how the model could be, and this could also be a winning, winning factor, actually, and yet to how to recruit pro I that's a good that's a good question. There's quite big ways, but I think especially for young people, As a company, you need to be really flexible and,  enable people, give them a chance, to be their own and give them a chance to succeed,  but also to fail and  give them just room program for their own. It doesn't have to be creativity in being open in terms of arts, but also let them be themselves and give them their, and a freedom. I think that's important.

[00:19:45]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:19:45] That sounds easy, but I believe it must be difficult if you are a leader in a very traditional business, you trying to gamble on some new person that's going to do things you don't even know what they're going to do so [00:20:00] it's a bit of a challenge,  but I think you're right.

[00:20:03] These are the leaps that we need to make. Lena when you think about the next decade, what are your thoughts for yourself for this industry? Where do you think things are moving? Are you for instance,  five, 10 years from now, do you see yourself starting a new, fascinating manufacturing supply chain company? Do you see yourself being an executive in kind of a, the size company you work for now? Undoubtedly, you're going to move fairly fast because you have the perspective just from this little conversation, what you want and you go for it and you are very reflective around what around you. So I'm curious, paint a picture for me of your future, but also the industry you work in what's going to happen to it in your best and with your best guess.

[00:20:53] Lena Jaentsch: [00:20:53] With my best guests, I hope that people will wake up and, see, especially now [00:21:00] during this really bad situation due to the pandemic, how things could change real quick and what the,  game changers could be and what they need to,change. And I would love to be  would love to be part of it and,  give some more conservative companies, maybe a more fancy look or holistic view on some topics and engage are they need to be, they need to be curious. Also the companies need to be curious, they need to try something and I really hope that I will be that I will be part of that. And I think companies  will fail on that way, but this is also part of the game, guess. And, it's a hard way to go. It's not easy and it might hurt , on some sparks., but I'm probably the one who gets the bandaid and puts it down, [00:22:00] covers, the wound and so we can keep going.

[00:22:03] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:22:03] Fascinating, give me a few seconds. We haven't talked so much about your exact business. So you work, for HERMA Group. What exactly do they do on your unbuttoned Wittenberg? What exactly is it that your company does and just your role in that?

[00:22:23] Lena Jaentsch: [00:22:23] We have three different divisions in our company. First one is the production of the tease of material. Then we also  produce labels. So the,  for shipping labels, but also for product and I'm at the division for the manufacturing. So we produce or labeling machines actually. So every label that is on a product needs to be applied somehow, and this is done with our machines.

[00:22:50] And now, for instance, coming back to the Corona situation again, I'm sorry for that. But the vaccine the vials, those are labeled as well. [00:23:00] And this is also done with the help of file machines, for instance, or every product you find kind of Edward product defined in the supermarket that has a label on it might have been labeled without, before our machines.

[00:23:11]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:23:11] Give me a sense of, because people talk about industry 4.0 a lot. And how has the production process changed with the introduction of technology, even just in your company over the last let's call it last five years. What has happened to the machines, if anything, or are they generally the same, but you have introduced some sort of different little tweaks on the side to, to make the product and a little bit more efficient.

[00:23:35]Lena Jaentsch: [00:23:35] We have now the release, a new applicator,  which has all the interfaces to connect with other with other system. It has a web interface, industrial ethernet and everything. I think that has changed. So I'll product I prepared for industry 4.0. Whether they use for that or not, it's up to the customer.

[00:23:57]But at least they're prepared for that. And I think [00:24:00] that's a good, that's a good  start.  Looking at our manufacturing environment on every workstation, it big monitor where people can log into the system see the drawings and everything.

[00:24:12] They don't have folders with paper anymore. I think that's a small step, but it's a big step for the industry to have at least that digitalized. And some things are still on paper, of course, because that's needed. But , those are small steps.

[00:24:29] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:24:29] Well, important. This is fascinating.

[00:24:32]Lena, this has been a wonderful conversation. I wish you the absolute best of luck and please stay in touch. I'm very curious to see what would happen with your career and also with the company you work for going forward and the pandemic. It doesn't seem to be going away this month.

[00:24:49] So we'll have to watch, how., it seems like there's some opportunity there, in on the business side with labeling, but but clearly for the world, it's a very challenging and for the [00:25:00] world of manufacturing, it's been  actually both an opportunity and a, an, a massive challenge.

[00:25:06] Lena Jaentsch: [00:25:06] Exactly.

[00:25:07]Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:25:07] Well, thank you very much for your insight today.

[00:25:11] Lena Jaentsch: [00:25:11] You're welcome.

[00:25:13] Trond Arne Undheim, host: [00:25:13] You have just listened to episode 16 of the Augmented podcast with hosts Trond Arne Undheim topic was a female fighter in manufacturing. Our guest was Lena Jaentsch  business development specialist  for a german manufacturer. In this conversation, we talked about being a champion for new efficient modes of production, bringing customers value, and also being a young woman in manufacturing.

[00:25:43] We discussed the challenges in today's manufacturing companies to explore new business models and stay on top of digitalization. Yet Lena is an innovation manager strong, but mostly single fighter. [00:26:00] We discuss the war for talent. Why young people don't choose. We also discussed the need for people to exchange information tools, solutions, and experiences, especially my takeaway is that the people like Lena on board.

[00:26:21] The future of any business, let's see bright. She has the kind of limitless energy that characterizes what everyone should aspire to the workforce. Moreover, she has the guts to go explore new things, learn, adapt, and implement. I predict plan up fast up the land in small companies. You don't need many shops or managers, but you do need something.

[00:26:47] Otherwise you will be left behind. Thanks for listening. If you'd like to the show, subscribe at Augmented podcast.com or your preferred podcast player, and rate us with five stars. [00:27:00] If you like this episode, you might also like it. So the 11 empowering workers to innovate episode three, we imagine training and episode two, how to trade Augmented workers. Augmented the industry 4.0 podcast.


Lena Jaentsch

Business Development Specialist, HERMA Group

Lena is a digital manufacturing expert working for German company Herma Group, a leading brand when it comes to self-adhesive labels. She has a Master of Science degree from Jönköping International Business School.