The automotive industry is still something of a male domain. But as ever, the exception proves the rule. Susan Sahl Pohnor is certainly exceptional – she has been working as the first female Managing Director of Opel Händler VersicherungsService GmbH (OVS) since January 2014. Susan Sahl Poynor was awarded her degree in International Business Administration by Wiesbaden University of Applied Sciences at the age of just 23. Shortly afterwards, she embarked on her career in the automotive industry, working for the General Motors Group in Purchasing, Warranties and, since 2006, Insurance.
In 2012, Susan Poynor was inspired to return to school: Frankfurt School, in fact. And in May 2014, she graduated with an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA). Since 2015 and 2016 she is Managing Director of both AVS VersicherungsService GmbH and VCIS Germany GmbH.
To what extent did your studies at Frankfurt School prepare you for the challenges of your current position?
Studying at Frankfurt School meant that I was able to acquire extensive knowledge in key cross-functional specialisms such as finance, accounting and corporate law, all very useful to me in my current role as Managing Director. But the EMBA was also an important benchmark for me personally – I’m now much more capable of assessing my own strengths and performance.
What’s your favourite memory of your time at Frankfurt School?
I like to think back on our group projects. It was fascinating to see just how much creativity came to light at various times. And while the main focus was on content, working together was always an enjoyable experience – on a personal level, too. There was a great deal of mutual support, especially during exam periods.
What was your biggest challenge while studying?
When you’re studying for an MBA in parallel with full-time employment, there’s no question that managing your time effectively becomes a major challenge – even though it’s absolutely essential. You have to be able to accurately gauge and share out your inner resources. This was all the more important for me because I found I was expecting my first child while I was doing the MBA course.
What kind of ongoing connection do you feel you have with Frankfurt School?
Doing the course, I was able to forge some great relationships with contacts in various industries. Sharing ideas and information with an active network is certainly one of the things that connects me to Frankfurt School. I’m also extremely proud of the new accreditations, and convinced that Frankfurt School will achieve its ambitious aims.
Thinking back over your time as a student, what advice would you give to people studying at Frankfurt School today?
I would advise them to use their time at Frankfurt School productively, above and beyond the course work. In particular, it’s important to make the best possible use of the business school’s various offerings, including the advisory and networking opportunities, because chances like this don’t come up all that often.
What are your expectations of the alumni activities?
I’m looking forward to further interesting events for Frankfurt School alumni, featuring high-calibre speakers. In both professional and personal terms, the most important aspect of these events is the opportunity to network. Through their personal commitment, Frankfurt School graduates also play an active role in shaping alumni activities and turning the network into a lively community. I intend to try and find or make time to do that myself.