Role model blog: Anne Franzas, ABB

My name is Anne Franzas, I work as a Global Product Manager for Circularity within ABB Drive
Products. My passion involves fostering conscious and sustainable practices within our society, and
with a career-driven personality, I have tackled the concerns of combining children with a meaningful
career. It was not self-evident for me to choose a career in engineering, pending between human
sciences and tech. Finally, I thought of making a bigger impact on a sustainable future by studying
tech, also the role model from my dad influenced my decision.

Seizing opportunities and becoming a mother 

This week, as I am writing this text, the upcoming Mother’s Day makes me reflect on my role as
a mother combined with my career in the tech industry. I feel content – I am quite happy with the
decisions and turns of events that have happened so far in my life. I graduated from Helsinki
University of Technology in 2000, with majoring in Chemical Engineering. By that time, the working
opportunities in that field were restricted in the capital area of Finland. Curiosity made me look for
other alternatives and I noticed that Nokia was growing and recruiting actively. Nokia seemed like a
vibrant company and my systematic process thinking, engineering background, and some
experiences in programming opened the doors for a career start at Nokia in the R&D function. It was
interesting being a part of the team building up the first 3G network elements. It felt almost magical
seeing the programming language turn into functions that routed wireless telephone calls in masses.

Shortly after starting at Nokia, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child. I experienced
mixed feelings, but happiness was of course on top of it. At some points I, however, felt some sort of
fear of missing out. Both work life and motherhood are interesting and fulfilling parts of our lives
and I was concerned about how I would be able to combine them both. In hindsight, those thoughts
were very understandable then, but it was really a blessing to have kids at that point as the second
one came 2 years after. You tend to only regret the things you did not do, I thought.

Anne Franzas, Global Product Manager for Circularity, ABB Drive

Grasping a bigger picture and leaving the comfort zone

After my time at Nokia, I worked for some years for a consultancy company, which was a time of great variety. Seeing many different companies and providing them with added value as a consultant taught me to see patterns in ways of working and spread best practices within the industry. At a certain point, curiosity drove me to ABB. I did not only want to work as an external consultant but also to understand the whole story and see the further steps after product development.

Time passes fast when you have fun, they say and that is certainly how I feel now with more than
ten years of ABB career behind me. I started my career at ABB as an RD specialist, as a part of a team creating a new product. After a couple of years, our team lead moved to another position in the company, and I got curious about the opportunity of running the team. It was somewhat beyond my comfort zone as the other team members were only men, most of them older than me and some even with higher education, but I thought: what does not kill you makes you stronger. I noticed leadership was a very suitable career path for me and I found myself enjoying helping others and getting technical problems organized.

The characteristics of me as a team lead are often described as easy to approach and I repeatedly
get acknowledged as a coach for technical experts. The team grew bigger and bigger and eventually, I was leading the whole local R&D function. Most recently I got the opportunity to move in a horizontal direction to take a new role in building up circularity in the business model of our products.

Dispelling the fear of missing out

ABB has certainly filled my expectations of a variety of assignments. The product I work with is a frequency controller. It is an unsung hero of decarbonization because of the energy-saving potential it has. Human society is filled with electric motors, around half of the whole world’s electricity is used by motors. A frequency controller controls the speed of a motor in an energy-efficient way with an energy-saving potential of around 23%. For me, it is meaningful and valuable to work with smart and clean technology that enables several future generations of humans, including my children, to live in various places on the planet. We have only one home, this planet, and one journey which is around the sun. We need to have good and responsible housekeeping.

As I am currently working with circularity in business models, I now want to circle back to my
thoughts of motherhood during my career and my initial concerns of missing out on something by
combining kids with a meaningful career. There are multiple ways of living and motherhood has
essentially taught me to be effective, gentle but firm and to set boundaries. I consider these habits
as something that has made me grow as a person and provided me vitals for a meaningful life. My
children have also been very good teachers in my life and pushed me to my limits, sometimes even
exceeding them. At this point, when the kids are already young adults,

the most heartwarming thing I have heard from the youths is the phrase I would like to be like you when I approach 50.