Name: Cornelia Weiler
Title: Project Director
Degree: Mechanical Engineering and Business Administration
- Introduce yourself, and share a fun fact that makes you unique!
My name is Cornelia, I’m 37 years old. I have a background in mechanical engineering as well as business administration. Fun fact? I’m a cycling addict and love challenges. This summer I biked 327 km in one day. And I cycled all the way to Paris, 1250 km, within 8 days. Let’s see what’s next.
- What does a day in your life look like as a Project Director at Vestas?
As Project Director I oversee all windfarm installation projects in Scandinavia and Estonia. I ensure that my team can execute their work efficiently and without obstacles to achieve our goal – which is to install windfarms safely, in time and within budget. Quite some time of my day I spend in meetings with employees or colleagues. They might need support or guidance, or I might need information from them. I’m also driving initiatives to improve our processes and ensure we are ready for the workload ahead of us. Recruiting and onboarding of new employees is another important part of my work. All in all, it is a large variety of tasks that requires interaction with many different stakeholders, which makes this role so attractive.
- What motivates and excites you the most about your career path and the leadership position you hold?
I have always been working with Project Management and now moved into a leadership role within this field. What motivates me is to achieve a target together with a team. Every project is different and requires a different approach. Every employee is different and has different needs. It’s very satisfying that I in my role can make use of all the knowledge I have gained during my education and career: Solid understanding of technical topics, the ability to interpret financial numbers and my skills in dealing with people.
- Share with us the biggest lessons you learned on your journey to where you are today.
I have learnt that you have to be vocal about your ambitions and goals. If you know what you want, tell people about it. Let’s say you aim to develop in a certain direction, take on a specific task, etc. Do not expect people to read your mind and offer you the opportunity which you are hoping for. Speak openly about your preferences, ideas, and dreams. That will increase the chance of them materializing!
- Tell us about a (female) role model who inspired you to become the leader you are today, and how (s)he impacted you personally or professionally.
It was not specific role models who inspired me, but rather different people I met throughout the past years in my professional life. For many years I was thinking of myself as an Engineer who is great with numbers, planning and logical thinking, but not somebody who is good at dealing with people, or even a leader. It helped me a lot to get to know leaders who were very different from the stereotype-leader that existed in my head. It taught me that there are very different ways of filling a leadership role and that I have the capability to become a leader myself.
- If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, or to other young female students today, what would it be?
Everything that seems scary and intimidating is much less scary once you are in the middle of it. That applies to camping by yourself in the woods, studying mechanical engineering, and taking on your fist leadership role. When I’m scared, I always ask myself: Is this really dangerous? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Usually, the conclusion is that there is no reason to not try. Just get started, take one step at a time and don’t forget to look back and be proud of what you achieved!
- How do you see STEM education shaping the future?
A lot of the challenges we are facing nowadays, e.g. the climate crisis, can to a large extent be tackled by technical solutions. Let’s take windpower as an example. This sector keeps growing and offers endless opportunities if you have a STEM background. The variety of jobs is huge – from fundamental research to project management – there is something for everyone.
- Why is it important for you to promote diversity and inclusion within STEM?
One very simple reason is that I would love to have more female colleagues around me. When visiting a construction site as Project Manager I usually did not meet a single woman. In my role as manager, I aim to increase diversity in my team – which is challenging as it is mainly men applying for the role as Project Managers. And this goes back to the low percentage of women in STEM education. There is no reason why women should be less capable of becoming scientists or engineers. But it’s such a great field to work in and I hope that many more women take the chance to experience it!
- What steps has your company taken to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and which one has been the most effective?
Vestas introduced a training for all people managers called “Inclusive Leadership Program”. Managers are made aware of their own biases, which is an important first step to interacting with their team and taking decisions without being lead by such biases. By learning how to take others’ perspectives and thereby building more trust, managers are acting as role models and help Vestas to move towards being a more diverse and inclusive workplace.