‘Questioning the Norm Pushes Innovation & Change’

From the Automotive Refinish Business to Architectural Coatings. Our colleague Danielle Aiken is proof, that new challenges and career changes are possible in our company. After a decade spent with cars and trucks, she decided to make what seemed like a radical career move.

Now, Danielle is using her expertise and enthusiasm to flourish in her role as PPG specification marketing manager, Architectural Coatings, UK & Ireland.

The Importance of Gender Diversity in the Business

Danielle began her career in the Automotive Refinish industry over a decade ago and at the time was taken back by the underrepresentation of women in the workforce. Whilst there is still more work to do in this space, organizations are recognizing how important diversity and inclusion is.

Networking groups such as Women’s Automotive are a great example of this and PPG have supported this by hosting an event at Williams Formula One in Oxfordshire.

In 2018, Danielle won the Women’s Automotive Special Recognition Award at the ABP Night of Knights for her career and contribution in the automotive repair industry.

Danielle won the Women’s Automotive Special Recognition Award at the ABP Night of Knights.

Creating Networks Creates Success

After 10 years of expanding her knowledge of Refinish, she decided that it was time for a new challenge. Although she’s a self-professed ‘petrol head’, last December saw Danielle make a bold move by changing her Strategic Business Unit (SBU) to pursue a career in our Architectural Coatings (AC) division. A move that she’s very PPG Proud of.

Moving SBU has been an exciting challenge for me. It’s pushed my boundaries into a new industry, a new culture with new products and ways of working. I’m an avid learner, who’s always on the lookout for new challenges. This change gave the freedom to do just that, while remaining part of our organization.

Danielle’s move was made easier and more enjoyable with the support of her networks.

“The move from Refinish to AC has been a significant one, moving from a business I have known for over 10 years to one I had only scratched the surface of. The key to make this work for me has been building a network. I’ve met amazing people across PPG who have helped me to gain the knowledge and expertise.”

Danielle with the specification team at the Architectural Coatings site in Birstall, UK.

Uprooting – Professionally and Personally

During her time at Refinish, Danielle worked from the Stowmarket facility in Suffolk. When she made the decision to leave Refinish it also meant leaving the South of England.

The Architectural Coatings plant in Batley is very much in the north of England, in fact, it’s approximately 200miles from Danielle’s original location! But since she’s adaptable in her personal life as she is in her professional life, she’s already fitting in perfectly in the nearby city of Leeds where she’s already found friends, a gym and many great coffee shops and restaurants!

The cross SBU move has enabled me to become a much more versatile manager and marketer in both a personal and professional sense.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Plenty of Questions 

By diving into her career goals and always being open to new experiences, Danielle has grown hugely as a professional. The breadth of Danielle’s skillset is owed, in part, to her unquenchable thirst for knowledge:

I’m glad that I didn’t allow the fear of change to put me off. I would advise anyone who’s considering moving SBU to do the same! It’s a great way to learn.

She also has advice on how to gain a deeper knowledge of how things are done and how to push for innovation:

Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions – coming from a different perspective is a good thing. When you ask what you think might be a stupid question, sometimes you’re just questioning the norm which pushes innovation and change.

Danielle and Automotive Refinish colleagues from across EMEA in Barcelona in 2018 .

A Deeper Understanding of One PPG

One of the main highlights of Danielle’s cross SBU journey has been the opportunity she’s been given to work collaboratively with other teams across not only the UK but PPG North and the whole of the EMEA region.

Now I’m part of a much bigger team in the UK and part of the PPG AC Region North which is really valuable because it provides a bigger platform for learning. There’s a huge amount of benefit in best practice sharing across teams and countries.

She also notes that moving from one SBU to another gives you a much broader view of the company. Danielle pointed out, that we need to embrace opportunities that support the world seeing us as ‘One PPG’.

“As a global organization, we have a great opportunity to work collaboratively across business units to deliver greater value to our customer. I think it’s something we can definitely get better at but it’s great to see the importance of working together being recognized in the PPG Way – we are ‘One PPG’ to the world.”