Women in Leadership: Karin Clement

In our next edition in the “Women in Leadership” series, we interviewed Karin Clement, a Manager of Human Resources at Bosch. Clement talks about her life as an Act II, mid-career, detailing her career path, balancing work/life balance with her young family, and staying visible in her company while working remotely.

What is your current role and how long have you been in it?

My current role is Manager of Human Resources at Bosch, and for the past nine months, I have been focused primarily on leading a change management initiative for North America. Change management is a structured approach and set of tools to help associates move through change. For example, a change could be a new leader coming into the organization, the implementation of a new system, a reorganization, or a new acquisition – basically any change that impacts people, regardless of the size, scope and complexity.

Bosch is experiencing a high volume of change as the company transforms to become a leading IOT company. The vision with our initiative is that change management becomes a natural part of the culture in North America and we deliver excellence in this area – that we have the competence and capability within the organization to actively contribute to and support business transformation. Ensuring we have a consistent approach to bring people along during times of change only helps us to realize business success.

What has your career path been to date?  Was it planned steps or spontaneous?

There have been some steps in my career that were planned, but overall, my career developed more organically. In college, I studied marketing and management. When I finished college, I worked for a financial institution and was selling mortgages. I realized quickly it was not going to be my long-term career plan, so I moved into a management training program at a bank. The program was led by HR, and I approached the HR Manager to express my interest in joining their team if there was ever a need for someone with program experience. A few months later I received a phone call, which is how my HR career began. This was also the time I went back to school to pursue my MBA with a concentration in HR management.

During the recession, the bank underwent a lot of cutbacks, and ultimately the rotational program was eliminated. I spent time in more of a recruiting capacity before seeking a change. I learned that Bosch had a similar management trainee program, making it a good transition for me to join the HR team. I have worked at Bosch for 8 years in a few different HR roles including corporate HR and HR Business Partner positions. I also had the opportunity to be part of a regional project team that led our HR restructuring project in North America. That was one of the most challenging and rewarding assignments of my career to date. It was also the experience that helped me realize my passion for change management and transformation work.

In your current “Act” – or stage in your career -what is the number one challenge you face?

My hardest challenge is balancing the ever-changing dynamics of raising young children while progressing in my career. I feel I’m in a position where I am trying to be everything to everyone and still find time to be me and focus on my development. Since relocating for personal reasons in August 2018, I have been working in a remote capacity. Being a remote worker has its own set of challenges, and I must work a little bit harder to develop my professional relationship while also staying visible. I travel much more in my current role and that can be difficult with a young family.

What does the phrase “women supporting women” mean to you?

For me, it means encouraging, empowering, and pushing each other to be at our best. I played sports all through college, and I view “women supporting women” like being on a team. It means being supported while also giving out some “tough love” at time to push us to perform at our best.

Do you now or have you had a mentor?  Are you a mentor?  What have those experiences brought to you?

I have had mentors throughout my career and currently do as well. Mentorship has brought me wisdom, support, confidence, and advice. I truly believe that I would not be where I am today without those relationships.

With my current mentor, the relationship has been one of the most valuable for me both professionally and personally. It gives me an emotionally safe environment to learn and make mistakes. I’ve received amazing support and some tough love along the way, guiding me to accomplish things I would have never imagined I could. Mentorship has been critical to my development. And I try to pay that forward as I engage in relationships with my mentees.

At Bosch, we have a formal mentor program. We use a platform that helps match the skills and expertise a mentor can provide with the skills and knowledge that a mentee wants to further develop. It is a great tool to help set the partnership up for success. I really enjoy mentoring others. It is a rewarding experience to give back in this way, and I learn new things from my mentees as well.

If you could give insights or advice to your Act I self – what would it be?

My first piece of advice is be confident in what you know and be confident in what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because you should never stop learning.

My second piece of advice is never say never because you could be passing up an amazing opportunity. Some of my best career experiences came from opportunities I wouldn’t have necessarily sought out.

My third piece of advice is to remember that the world is really a small place. Foster your relationships, expand your network, and be careful not to burn bridges. You may be surprised where you cross paths with somebody again.

What insights would you like to give to the Act III women ahead of you?

We need you. We need your guidance, support, advice, and mentorship. Your point-of-view is so valuable and can help us to understand situations and opportunities from a different perspective. As an Act II, I may face a challenge that seems like a big deal for me at that time, but in the grand scheme of things, that challenge may be more of a mole hill than a mountain. It’s helpful to have someone, who has gone through similar experiences, put things into perspective.