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Your very own growth mindset: Finding the value in following your own vision

By: Virginie Maillard, Head of Siemens Technology US, Head of Simulation & Digital Twin Field at Siemens

All my working life I have followed my preference to do what I like and what I’m good at instead of following a path that is convenient or obvious. There is some risk in this, yes, but after nearly 30 years in different jobs, this approach has worked for me because I’ve always had great experiences and real satisfaction. The point is to find the value in going against the flow—aim to surprise all the people who would have expected you to do something they could have predicted.  


If you believe in yourself, you can, and will, do something extraordinary because you have a vision special to you. I really encourage younger people who I work with to follow this mindset of growth, to be courageous enough to follow their vision and to pursue what has real meaning for them. 

If you believe in yourself, you can, and will, do something extraordinary because you have a vision special to you. I really encourage younger people who I work with to follow this mindset of growth, to be courageous enough to follow their vision and to pursue what has real meaning for them.

My vision is based on having been born a mechanical engineer at heart because my favorite thing when I was a child was to take apart my toys to see how they worked. To this day, my inclination is to open systems to see how they work. When I began my formal education in France, mechanics and physics became my best subjects because they explain how the world works. Once you understand how things work you can create solutions and fix problems, and that’s the really exciting part. That’s what drives me—it took me through my 25 years at a carmaker in France and it compelled me to accept a position with Siemens Technology in the U.S. in 2018.


In the innovation domain where I work, you have to be driven to succeed. To win the game of innovation, of course you must assemble the most capable team you can find, but also the most diverse team will be the more able to address new complexities and maximize efficiencies. Because when you have to be very efficient and quick to understand problems and challenges, if you decide to play with a monocultured team you won’t see all the possibilities and you will lose to those companies that have the fullest range of mindset. If you assemble the same people again and again, you have the same mindset, the same solution, and the same mistakes.


Achievement comes through a diversity of thought, and that comes from cultural diversity, gender diversity, neurodiversity, racial diversity, and otherwise a real philosophy of inclusion. We simply cannot miss finding the diverse talent we need for our teams—we must know where and how to find this talent and how to engage with it. Hiring for and assembling diverse teams, in Tech or elsewhere in the company, is about awareness of the differences and respect of each other, creating benefit for all from these new relationships. 


Another key approach to within the company is Growth Talks. In my life as a manager, I’ve never seen such a disruption for more engagement, empowerment, and freedom of communication between people. President and CEO of Siemens AG Roland Busch is leading this change because he really believes in its value, and I’m happy to live in such a time of a new way of managing people. 


Growth Talks is a cultural shift in complete contrast to everything I’ve seen in my career to date. No more managing by tools, by rating people, and pursuing key performance indicators (KPIs). What we’re doing now is about talking with people to describe clear expectations of what they have to deliver, to examine the career development possibilities, and their plan for growth. This is not necessarily easy to do, at first, but what the conversation creates is continuous feedback, so that both the manager and the employee are acting on live data and can make changes in real time through mutual understanding. It is a continuous process. This is completely disruptive of an old system built on an annual assessment with formated tools. Growth Talks is a sign of maturity of the organization—it’s really a whole new mindset—and it will change the company.


Growth Talks is also a good indicator that management is keeping up with the pace of change, because our essential work—the technology—is changing so fast. We have to have new ways of working and managing to match the speed of change in innovation and development. 


Where I work, the truly exciting thing about digital twin is the combination of the physical world and digital world in a completely new era of opportunities that we have never considered before, enabled by huge computing power, more connectivity, and IoT devices. If we can put information from the engineering phase into the hardware in operation or if we can collect data about it and feed the simulation models, we close the loop of a very powerful system that brings major new value to our customers. Siemens has the hardware, the software, and the leadership to capitalize on this—but we must be diligent to keep our lead. 


Indeed, looking ahead to our short-term future, there is a lot to do. Research, testing, and developing are never ending. At this company we’re a part of a long history of innovation and each one of us is contributing to that, piece by piece, everyday, and that is always exciting.


Published: June 4, 2021