Doctor of engineering and automotive manager
Sibylle von Schieszl
As an engineer and the highest-ranking woman at Volkswagen, for decades Sibylle von Schieszl set the tone in quality control. She laid the academic foundation for her spectacular ascent in Dresden, where she studied physics at the College of Technology and gained a doctorate in mechanical engineering. Sibylle Schieck was born in Dresden in 1918 to Martha and Walther Schieck, who later became the last Saxon prime minister of the Weimar Republic. In 1940, she enrolled on the physics programme at Dresden College of Technology. In 1944, she married fellow-student Karl Theodor Schieszl von Buda.
But then, with her husband in Soviet captivity, Sibylle von Schieszl spent four years raising their daughter by herself. Despite her difficult circumstances, she conducted research and taught at both the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Electrochemistry and Physical Chemistry. In 1948, still in effect a single mother, she attained an engineering doctorate for her thesis on the viscosity of oils. In 1952, facing arrest for having warned several students of their impending politically motivated detention, Sibylle von Schieszl and her family fled East Germany and settled in Mannheim, where she was employed at the central laboratory of the American Armed Forces. In 1956, Sibylle von Schieszl moved to Wolfsburg to work for Volkswagen AG, initially heading the inorganic chemistry laboratory. In 1972, she was made head of the global quality promotion department. She made a name for herself throughout the male-dominated automotive industry as the highest-ranking woman in Volkswagen. In addition, she became involved in the international networking of female academics.
She was a founding member of Soroptimist International, an organization dedicated to the solidarity and social activities of working women worldwide. In 1990, Sibylle von Schieszl moved to Sweden to be with her daughter. She died in Sweden in 2010. Until her death, Sibylle von Schieszl kept in touch with her alma mater, and drove there several times in her VW Golf.
Fotonachweis: Technische Universität Dresden, Universitätsarchiv (1, 4); Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (2, 3)