She started her career at Deutsche Bahn in January 2020 and was able to rise to top management within a short space of time: Arlene Bühler has been Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at DB Cargo since November 2021. The 45-year-old is particularly driven by her enthusiasm for using IT and digitalisation to promote eco-friendly railway transport.
It all started with a dual study programme in business administration and business informatics at Siemens. After various positions in the IT sector, Arlene Bühler became self-employed for several years. She then joined the Volkswagen Group, where she was most recently Head of IT Project Portfolio Management. And what finally brought her to the railway? "After five and a half years in Wolfsburg, it was time for me to see something different," Bühler reports. "Besides, I always wanted to do something socio-political and that's where the railway really appealed to me."
Sustainability is an important keyword for Arlene Bühler: especially in the cargo sector, it is all about cutting carbon dioxide and getting more goods onto the rails: For example, a single train can replace 52 trucks. Arlene Bühler: "In my job, I find it great to exchange ideas every day with people who are really fighting for every tonne of CO2 saved." Digitalisation and automation are the tools to make the eco-friendly railway the first choice, she says.
Arlene Bühler and her team also showed socio-political commitment at the beginning of the war in Ukraine: Without further ado, they created the IT framework for a rail bridge to the country. For this, Bühler was awarded CIO of the Year 2022.
Professional onboarding, motivating people
Let's go back to Arlene Bühler's beginnings at Deutsche Bahn. What won her over at the time was the onboarding: "It was highly professional and very fast. I signed the contract after just four weeks," Arlene Bühler remembers. She was also impressed by the people she got in touch with. For example, she found it groundbreaking that there were already two high-profile women at the top management level in the technology sector at Deutsche Bahn. Her biggest challenge was starting her new job in the middle of the pandemic. But it turned out well in the end. Arlene Bühler: "The railway was one of the first companies to send its employees into the home office."
To this day, Bühler appreciates the modern atmosphere at her Employer. This includes a very good error and feedback culture and great creative freedom. This is also important to Arlene Bühler as a manager: creating an environment in which everyone can come up with suggestions for improvement. For her, it's all about driving change together - and that's something she wants to inspire. Balancing work and family life is something she sets an example for. She has certainly worked in positions where permanent availability was desired, Bühler says. That is not the case at the railway. On the contrary: "I think you're a better manager if it's not always about work," explains Bühler. Her husband and her two daughters are her priority, she likes to go running and meet up with colleagues and friends after work. All this increases her creativity, opens up new perspectives and strengthens her resilience.