At eye level with passion

Leaving your comfort zone, facing new challenges, and remaining inquisitive. What some people perceive as unpleasant, others see as an enrichment – like Christian Müller, who I am meeting at his office at EvoBus in Mannheim. Just in the fall of last year, he ventured into new professional territory and moved from the Development Chassis and EE Systems unit into the Controlling unit of Development. Since then, he has devoted his full attention to his tasks as "Team Leader Planning & Controlling" within Development. Enjoyment in his work has always had an especially high value for him: He told me with a smile: "Aristotle's saying, 'Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work' describes my work ethic very well".

The key in the daily work

As previously, he is still in contact with all the interesting development topics, such as E-mobility - but, this time, from a completely new perspective. "Before, I was always present at the winter testing in Development", he swooned. And, even though he is no longer involved in this, Christian Müller doesn't have any doubts that he is putting all of his efforts into his current position.

He brings not only several years of management experiences, but also extensive know-how into the team: Among other things, in the development and testing of chassis, electric and electronic systems for cars and buses and all the way to SE team leadership in large vehicle projects. Together with his team, he is now planning the budget for the Development unit until 2025 and coordinates the reporting on the strategic planning for the higher management level. The key aspect in his new task area is to be "audit-proof": The numbers have to add up.

What is personally important to him in the daily work? According to him, "besides inner harmony and prudence, it's emotional intelligence and, of course, being fit professionally". That's also why the last few months have been particularly challenging since he had to work himself into the new tasks and meet the usual requirement for particularly good performance. Initially, he was somewhat uncertain when he had to present the numbers to the management for the first time, hoping that everything was correct.

In the work with his colleagues, he attaches special importance to establishing mutual trust and delegating responsibility. That's why he is not just a "fan" of Leadership 2020 but is striving to integrate the leadership principles, and - most of all - "empowerment" into his management routine with strong conviction.

A passion for the Bus - from the very start

I realize relatively quickly that the person seating across from me has been drawn to the "big" vehicle from his earliest childhood. The big tires of the truck or bus do make a much bigger impression! He showed me a series of pictures from his childhood. Even then, his dream was always to become a test driver for the "big ones": Beaming with pride, he already sat in the driver's seats of buses and trucks as a small boy. While we were chatting, my eyes fell on the small collection of model cars on a shelf near him. I spontaneously asked him about his favorite bus model: Needless to say, it was the CapaCity L articulated bus, on which he himself has worked in the area of driving dynamics and steering systems.

Christian Müller came to Daimler without any detours. From the very start, his professional career also began in the Development unit of Cars and Buses. After completing his high school exams, he entered the dual machine engineering study program with a major in construction design at the business academy in Mannheim and at Daimler-Benz AG. After that he completed a study program in mechatronics and vehicle technology at the technical universities of Dresden and Darmstadt in parallel with his job. To a certain extent, his professional career was also predetermined by his hobby because he always had a lot of fun working and tinkering with vehicles.

"Why didn't you go to Cars?" – He had already heard this a lot from people around him. Before I get a chance to ask him again, he casually waved this off and promptly explained: At the Bus, he can take responsibility, deal with things and drive them forward himself. He likes that. And it motivates him unbelievably. In the new team he also likes the cross-locational work with his colleagues from Neu-Ulm and Turkey. Good team work and a pleasant work climate are especially important for him.

Although he has achieved a lot professionally, he appears to be very down-to-earth. He seems to approach others without any preconceived notions and - most of all - "at eye level". Instead of a suit and tie he prefers the more casual business outfit, which underlines his relaxed and rather casual manner. This is certainly what makes a person like Christian Müller so authentic: He wants to remain true to himself – not only in the job but also in his private life.

The family is not only his great pride, it is also what gives him stability. He likes to travel with his wife and kids. They especially like Sardinia since the island is not only beautiful but also particularly children-friendly. On weekends and in his free time, he likes being outdoors, for example on his mountain bike or on the race track. His oldest son started his career in cart racing early on and is getting enthusiastic support for it from Christian Müller. In addition, now and again, he himself likes to sit behind the steering wheel.

Incidentally, the Bus plays a very special role in the household as well. The entire family is fully committed to the Bus - as he told me with a sparkle in his eyes. His wife works at EvoBus in the Project House and the three kids already know exactly what their father does at work. "Occasionally, my wife and I are told, 'there is a papa bus', he said smiling. Like every father, Christian Müller wishes that his boys will see him as a role model. Most of all, what he would like to pass on to his boys is the passion for all things automotive.

"All of this would be impossible without fun"

For Christian Müller, automotive passion and the promotion of youth simply go hand in hand. This attitude is also evident in his active involvement in educational training for students. As a university ambassador of Daimler AG, he regularly teaches as instructor for vehicle technology at DHBW Mannheim and as an occasional visiting instructor for block seminars at the University of Applied Sciences in Heidelberg. In this respect, he likes to apply his "gray" theory and shows the students in driving practice seminars what it really means to experience the laws of physics first-hand – for example, while drifting with the vehicle along the Hockenheimring. On the side, his tight free-time schedule also includes the promotion of young people with high potential, team events, innovation management seminars and ADAC driver training.

For him, the promotion of youth extends beyond the pure passion for cars. For Christian Müller, sustainability is about becoming socially involved as an individual. During our talk, I also focus in particular on the educational initiative genius that has already been firmly anchored in Daimler's sustainability strategy for a long time. I want to find out what motivates Christian Müller to become involved as a genius ambassador. He learned about the initiative by pure coincidence four years ago when he was considering the possibilities of doing voluntary work - and was immediately convinced of the core idea: With genius, Daimler acquaints children with the natural sciences and technical fields in a playful way. "Simply the applause and the bright eyes of the participants are always a positive self-reinforcement of my own activities and motivate me immensely", he noted. For example, some time ago he gave an hour-long school talk on the topic of the "Bus of the Future", during which the children could express their creative ideas playfully, for instance, with the help of systems of building blocks.

I am impressed by the way Christian Müller integrates a sense of responsibility towards people with a positive, matter-of-fact attitude and an apparent natural ease into the daily work. It is certainly not always easy to combine social commitment with job and family "under one hat". "All of that would be impossible without fun", he explained and recalled the aforementioned saying of Aristotle's, which has become the life's motto of Christian Müller. Besides the support from his family, it is also his positive attitude and a big portion of lifeblood that enable coordinating the multifaceted interests and tasks and enriching his life so enormously.

Text: Franziska Schier
Pictures: Selina Traumer

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