When and for how long did you work at thyssenkrupp (Uhde)? What position or positions did you hold?
I have been working at Uhde Dzerzhinsk since September 1999 up to July 2013. Before that - since 1993 - I had worked for various West German firms in Dzerzhinsk and in Moscow. In 1999 I saw on the internet, that Uhde Dzerzhinsk was looking for a new manager for its controlling department, so I joined Uhde.
Before that, I had worked as a commercial director for the German company Kraftanlagen Heidelberg at the construction site of Caprolactam plant, so I had known the design institute Gipropolymer before it was acquired by Uhde. I was acquainted with its key personnel like Vyacheslav Shurashov and Oleg Shkalyabin, I met the first German managers - Mr. Kings and Dr. Rahn.
At Uhde, I worked my way up from the head of the Controlling Department to Commercial Director and member of the Executive Board. Until 2013, when I finally left the company, I worked briefly in the controlling department in Dortmund and Bad Soden. However, each time the Executive Board of Uhde GmbH asked me to return to Russia to support the Russian local organization in Dzerzhinsk.
You worked in Russia for many years. How did that come about? What are your impressions of working in Russia?
I grew up in the Eastern Germany, but I studied in Moscow in the 1970s and became an economist. I met the German unification as the Economic Director of a factory with 600 employees in my hometown of Oranienburg near Berlin. This company had always had a large share of exports to the Soviet Union. The economic situation had deteriorated. West German companies were looking for employees with knowledge of the Russian language to develop business in Russia. That's how I returned to Russia. I worked in Kraftanlagen Heidelberg in Dzerzhinsk, in Comparex (a BASF subsidiary company) in Moscow, and finally ended up in Uhde / thyssenkrupp.
I always liked working in Russia. In 1990s, computer systems and computer-aided engineering were developing rapidly. Employees had to learn new technologies and study English in order to be able to cooperate on an international level with the parent company and the subsidiaries of Uhde and thyssenkrupp in other countries.
In Russia, my abilities were in demand, it was always a pleasure to communicate with colleagues, and together we successfully solved complex issues. Communicating with Russian business partners and government officials (e.g., tax authorities and the mayor's office) was easier in Russian without an interpreter.
I found good friends in Russia. The only disadvantage of working here was my distance from my children and (later) grandchildren.
What is your most vivid memory from your years at thyssenkrupp?
There were many highlights, both positive and negative. I cannot single out just one. Although I remember well one project – the reconstruction at Sibur-Neftekhim ethylene oxide and glycols plant in Dzerzhinsk. Many thought that Uhde Dzerzhinsk would not handle it without extra support. We proved the opposite.
How was the cooperation between the different offices set up back then?
Cooperation between different offices on different projects was never easy. As an economist, I can only partially appreciate the reasons for this. When Russian engineers went to Germany and worked together with German, Indian or other colleagues, it was always successful. Collaboration between the offices in general was sometimes difficult to organize - obviously, the engineering approach was too different. For example, Russian design requirements (GOSTs, SNIPs, more detailed drawings, non-recognition of DIN, etc.) were sometimes not understood by German engineers.
For this reason, I often had to work not only as a language interpreter, but also as a cultural interpreter.
Do you keep in touch with former colleagues? And do you follow the company?
I still have some contacts with my colleagues from the commercial department of tk IS RUS, although they are naturally shrinking. We congratulate each other on holidays, discuss some news, but that’s more of a personal. Many of my colleagues are already retired. I learn news about the company only from the German media.
Until 2019, I visited Dzerzhinsk and Nizhny Novgorod once or twice a year. Now I will be able to go to Russia only as a tourist - when the epidemiological situation gets stable.
What have you been doing since you left thyssenkrupp?
I returned to Germany in 2013 when I was 60 years old. Unfortunately, the situation at thyssenkrupp had already become more complicated at that time, and I agreed to leave the thyssenkrupp in 2014. At the same time, to my great regret, relations between Europe and Russia had also deteriorated. Because of that, I could not find a job in Russia or in a German company willing to do business in Russia, and at the age of 63, I decided to retire. Since then I have been traveling a lot, taking care of my 4 grandchildren, my house and my garden.
And a little advice to all our colleagues. What is a job you love? What do you have to do to make your job a job you love?
It's a complicated question.
If a person is disgusted by his job, he or she obviously should change it. There is nothing wrong with working in different positions and at different companies. It is extremely important to be proud of the result of your work, to understand that you gave your best to get the best result. It is easier for engineers in this regard as they can see the physical result of their work, but is equally important for everyone. It’s also important to appreciate a stable, reliable employer.
We must not forget that it is very pleasant to work with good colleagues in a friendly team.