Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Psychology, Harz University (Germany)
As a training manager at ZF Group, a global developer of driveline and chassis technology for the auto industry, Sophie Stepke researches, develops and implements programs for ZF locations throughout North America.
She also stands out as chair of the Strategic Steering Committee for the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) program, which addresses talent shortages in manufacturing and technology. MAT2 is a three-year apprenticeship program that allows students to alternate between classroom instruction and on-the-job training. ZF is a participant.
“Sophie is a tireless champion for ZF’s participation in programs such as apprenticeships, MAT2 and STEM. She not only leads this for ZF North America, but also for Michigan’s state MAT2 program. Her positive energy engages people and makes daunting tasks seem to be the obvious answer,” said Connie Rightmer, vice president of Compensation and Benefits for ZF Group.
Stepke has helped grow MAT2 to 248 apprentices and 55 companies in 2018 from 25 apprentices and 9 companies in 2013 by educating manufacturing companies on why apprenticeship is critical to their businesses.
In addition, Stepke secured $59,000 for ZF through the “MAT2 Employer Training Grant” from the state of Michigan. She has positioned MAT2 as a benchmark program to other companies and other states. The German-American Chamber of Commerce recently announced it would adopt MAT2. She also strives to remove stigmas women have against working in the manufacturing industry.