Frankfurt Anyone who saw the photo a few days ago on Twitter and handed a box to his new colleague Daniela Gerd tom Markotten on which rail boss Richard Lutz handed him a box, wants to know one thing: What was inside? “No, not a model railway,” says Gerd tom Markotten with a laugh: “That was a welcome package that every new Deutsche Bahn employee receives: a rucksack, a drinking bottle and – very helpful – a railway ABC.”
The industrial engineer has been the board member for digitization and technology at Deutsche Bahn since September 15. She succeeds Sabina Jeschke, who left the company at the end of May. Since then, Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta, the head of DB Cargo, has been in charge of the division on an interim basis.
Gerd tom Markotten, born in 1974, was able to prevail against Donya Amer, head of the Bosch subsidiary Climate Solutions. According to the federal government, the railway owner, both candidates were on par in terms of qualifications. But in the end Gerd tom Markotten won the race.
A mammoth task lies ahead of her. Digitization is considered to be the key lever to make railways more attractive for people and to achieve the ambitious climate targets. However, competitors have been criticizing for a long time that the railway is moving too slowly.
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“The railways in Germany are physically underutilized because we are not that far advanced with digitization and are therefore not planning intelligently enough,” said Flix Mobility CEO André Schwämmlein recently.
Gerd tom Markotten, who did her doctorate on IT security at the Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg, does not want to be rushed. “It is extremely important to first listen to the people in the company, to take in and understand the various perspectives and aspects,” she says. “I want to take my time until around Christmas. Then it is a matter of focusing on a few, but the most important, measures. “
Round trip through the group until Christmas
It is probably a decision that is also due to the sheer size of the state-owned company with a good 320,000 employees and around 300 companies. “Many people have told me that Deutsche Bahn is a very large organization that has very different cultures,” says the manager.
Nevertheless, Gerd tom Markotten already has one big goal in mind: “In the end, it’s about making Deutsche Bahn the most modern and popular means of transport for customers.” In the best case scenario, they shouldn’t even feel that there are quite complex processes in the background expire.
To achieve this, the new board member relies on her experience in a corporation and as a founder. Gerd tom Markotten was responsible for software development and vehicle telematics at Daimler for several years, and later for the digital area of the commercial vehicle division. She then headed the mobility service provider Moovel. In 2020 she founded the management consultancy Iuhhoo, whose specialty is digital transformation.
“At Deutsche Bahn, we can bring the best of these two worlds together very well,” says Gerd tom Markotten. It is the claim to be the future department of Deutsche Bahn and to bring together new technologies as well as digitization and innovations. “If I do my job well, I not only make a contribution to the company, but also to society. I found a really great destination station for this at Deutsche Bahn. “
A soft spot for large vehicles
The board member is not only responsible for digitization and IT at Deutsche Bahn. She is also responsible for the maintenance of the heavy vehicles with twelve plants and 8,000 employees.
She is looking forward to that too: “I actually have a weakness for large vehicles.” She likes technologies – but these should not be an end in themselves. “Digitization must always be in the service of the customer. I tell my team that too: the customers are always there, they are the focus of interest at every meeting, at every meeting. ”
She is not worried that her projects will overlap with other departments such as that of Ronald Pofalla, Board Member for Infrastructure: “I’m running into open doors with the subject of digitization. I am convinced that our topics will complement each other very well. “
Gerd tom Markotten is currently commuting between her home in Stuttgart and her workplace in Berlin. But that should also change soon. The plan is to move the entire family to the federal capital.
More: Flix Mobility boss Schwämmlein: “Nobody wants to change”