Working with Österreichische Postbus AG since 2015
Hi Silvia, it’s great to have you here with us, could you please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Vienna with Dutch roots and I am a trained lawyer and attorney. I am married and have a 6-year-old daughter of whom I am very proud. Since 2005, I have been working for the ÖBB Group, Austria's largest mobility service provider, where I have been at the helm of Postbus, Austria's largest bus company, since 2015.
I am courageous, open, communicative and convinced that for women, having a child and a career is not a contradiction, but an enrichment. Authenticity and respect for all employees are the hallmarks of a good leader. And mistakes are part of life and learning. I am fully committed to the expansion and innovation of public transport because I want to make a contribution to a future worth living.
What made you decide to start a career in the mobility industry?
My path into the mobility industry was more by chance than planning. When I was in my early 30s, I was faced with the point where I just knew I wasn't going to be happy as a lawyer. So I wanted to move to a company. And the company that appealed to me and interested me the most at that time was ÖBB. That's how I ended up there almost 20 years ago, and I still enjoy my job immensely. Over the years, I have come to know and appreciate how important public mobility is and what great work is done in this industry. So this is where I feel I've really arrived. The mobility industry is one of the most exciting industries of all, and certainly one of the most underestimated. But that's changing right now.
What do you value most in your job today?
I think it's insanely great that I can make a difference at Postbus, in the truest sense of the word. Riding the bus is sustainable, and every person we can convince to ride the bus makes a contribution to climate protection.
I also like the people I work with. It's fascinating and inspiring to see how much passion our employees put into their work every day. Incidentally, I have always experienced a very high level of cohesion at ÖBB, especially among women. That's very important for me to emphasise, because women are often accused of "bitching" among themselves and against each other. In my opinion, the exact opposite is the case.
Which female personality inspires you when it comes to the topic of 'female leadership'?
Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Jacinda Ardern.
Which car do you currently drive?
Bus and subway to work, train on business trips. My car is a hybrid. In Vienna, however, I'm not so dependent on it because public transport is extremely well developed here.
Longest drive in an electric vehicle?
From Graz to Vienna, which is about 200 km. Worked out wonderfully!
Who would you like to have by your side for a longer electric car ride?
Alexander van der Bellen.
Bicycle or e-bike?
Bicycle in the city, e-bike on the mountain.
Your message for a sustainable and smart future in mobility:
The car has served our mobility needs perfectly for the last 50 years. Unfortunately, we will not succeed in achieving the mobility turnaround if we continue as we are, and not even if we convert all internal combustion engines to zero-emission drives. But we don't have to do without cars completely - we just have to change the mix. For this to succeed, public transport needs to be expanded and supplemented by innovative services (such as on-demand transport in rural areas), and the transport infrastructure needs to be changed. A little more active and/or public mobility instead of always just cars, and we'll get there.
Michael Brecht from MOTION Magazine talked to these amazing women in the past weeks. It is impressive to get an insight into their career paths and to understand what motivates them personally. Women have a key role in helping us make the change needed in industries such as mobility, logistics and energy. Research demonstrates the impact of women in leadership roles goes beyond profits as they focus on diversity, belonging and equity. And Iwecan tell you from our own conviction that we will only succeed in the global transformation in sustainable mobility issues if we listen to the voices of these female doers. Thus we are very happy to provide a stage for female leaders that are making an impact. Read more about the other participating female leaders and Michael’s introduction for our MOTION Magazine Edition III, now available online in German language (only).
Illustrations courtesy of Jörn Kaspuhl for MOTION Magazine.