Early on, Isabel Grieshaber was told she would not be taking over VEGA, the family company founded 60 years ago by her grandfather, Bruno Grieshaber. Headquartered in Schiltach in the Black Forest region of Southern Germany, the firm manufactures customised measuring instruments and solutions.
Coming from a conservative family, her father believed that the position of leadership belonged to a man. “To my grandfather and father, it was always my older brother who was supposed to lead VEGA,” she says. “But unfortunately, he passed away in a car accident at the age of 19.”
Following the death of her brother, Isabel’s father made the decision to seek out suitable candidates outside of the family to take over the business. Isabel went on with her life. She studied economics, before switching to communication design. After graduating, she founded a marketing agency together with several friends.
“A few years later, my dad asked if I could help out in the marketing department at VEGA,” she says. Under Isabel’s lead, the team created several successful campaigns and launched a new website.
Isabel also spearheaded the VEGATRUCK, an innovative mobile training and exhibition room that brings its products to its customers. Fully equipped with functioning VEGA instruments, the VEGATRUCK allows customers to get familiar with the firm’s products without having to travel to trade fairs or leave their offices.
Isabel’s success with her marketing initiatives marked a turning point for the company. “When my dad saw the growth, he asked if I was interested in staying at the company full-time, which meant leaving my marketing agency,” she recalls. “I had come to love the people (at VEGA). I love being back in my home town. I also felt responsible for the family business, so I said yes,” she says.
Many of the employees have been with VEGA for more than 40 years. It’s clear that for Isabel, the highlight of the job is the people. Keeping her co-workers engaged is not only important to her; she also shows a special aptitude for it.
In her communications, she admits to always speaking her mind, saying, “I regard it as an opportunity to be open and sincere about where I stand. Communication is not about being right or wrong, but about figuring out if a certain solution is right for the company. Honesty always brings the best results.”
Supporting women in the industry is also an important cause for Isabel. Every year, VEGA organises a Girls’ Day, where female students aged between 11 and 15 visit the company’s headquarters to get a taste of the company’s technical training.
“It’s about being equal. Why shouldn’t a girl become an engineer or a service technician?” she asks. “I do not have a technical background. Yet, in the last two years, I have achieved some of the best results the company has seen. Everything is possible and that’s what we want to show the girls who visit us.”
“I do not have a technical background. Yet, in the last two years, I have achieved the best results the company has seen.”
When people meet Isabel, they are often surprised. They don’t expect the leader of a large corporation to be a 39-year-old mother of three who often brings her children to work with her. As she mentioned this, her baby made presence known in the background.
Being a woman in a ‘man’s world’ also means that she often experiences a certain sense of hostility “mainly from traditional countries,” she says. Isabel has encountered people who prefer not to speak to her but to her male employees, to which, she says, “I am not forcing anybody to respect who I am.”
Isabel believes that the best decision she has made for VEGA is to be herself. She says, “When I joined the company, I saw that although people had respect for my dad, they were afraid to talk to him.” She didn’t want that.
“I decided to stay who I am – just me, Isabel – and to be on the same level as the people in my office. VEGA is my second family and that’s how I treat the people here.”
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Innovative level and pressure measurement technology that combines high safety standards and efficiency with easy operability – this is what VEGA has stood for, for the past 60 years. The family-owned business is currently run by its third generation and has a forward-looking company culture that is geared towards long-term growth.
Its product portfolio includes sensors for the measurement of level, point level and pressure as well as hardware and software for integration into process control systems. All its products and services are designed to uphold its ‘made in Germany’ quality promise. The firm has also established itself as a leader in level measurement with radar.
With 1,629 employees and a presence in over 80 countries, VEGA provides solutions for demanding measurement tasks in chemical and pharmaceutical plants, the food industry, water treatment facilities, landfills, mines, power plants, oil platforms, ships, and planes. The company holds all necessary certificates and approvals that indicate its products are compliant with safety and quality standards worldwide.
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