What does your routine day involve as a senior manager in business management?
As a senior manager, I supervise the Coburg/Nuremberg business unit with its sale territory that comprises North Bavaria and South Thuringia. I am responsible for customer acquisition and personnel recruitment, my aim being to increase the average number of projects and consultants in order to secure the success of the business unit. I also coach other business managers and help support them in their career development. As a senior manager, I am the contact person when it comes to purchasing transactions with larger customers and I take part in the framework contract negotiations.
Not only that, but as site manager I have been in charge for many years of our Coburg site together with the Engineering Development/Construction Technology Center that is located here. It is down to me to ensure that everything here runs like clockwork. I get called on to deal with things that impact on all our personnel in Coburg. The working atmosphere must be pleasant and everyone needs to be happy in their job otherwise I have to do something about it. Achieving the ideal situation is my goal.
I’ve also been acting as a trainer in our Amplify Program – this is a special training program that all our new business managers are required to attend. I must say that I really enjoy my training activities. I am able to pass on much of what I have learned – I’ve already experienced at lot at ALTEN so have much to talk about. Moreover, it gives me the opportunity to get to know many of our new business managers who are based throughout Germany.
As the Coburg site coordinator, I have also had various supplementary tasks because of the current pandemic situation. My most important duty in this connection is to make sure that the hygiene rules are being followed.
You’ve now been working successfully for many years as a business manager. It that correct?
Yes. When I first started out in the business unit I had largely a blank slate and needed to build up a customer base in my sales territory, acquire projects and recruit suitable staff. I managed to identify potential customers, conducted cold calls and outlined our portfolio. These are standard techniques – telephoning, visiting customers and giving presentations. Once we’ve acquired a project, we need the appropriate personnel. It is necessary to find these among our pool of existing staff or by means of recruitment. I work together with Recruitment to prepare vacancy advertisements and then in the subsequent interviews. In the end it is me who supervises and supports customers, projects and personnel.
These are responsibilities that have become particularly challenging in the current coronavirus situation. However, I am helped by the fact that I already have experience of crisis management – I was already with ALTEN when the German economy was hard hit by the 2008/2009 financial downturn.
One of your major responsibilities is personnel management. How do you go about this?
To ensure that our employees feel supported and projects are brought to a successful conclusion, it is important that I am available to respond to queries. Of course, there are routine personnel appraisals at the end of each year and following probationary periods. And project reviews need to be undertaken during on-going projects. But I also spontaneously make contact with my subordinates, accompany them when they visit customers or eat lunch with them. In this way, I can keep track of project progress, the well-being of staff, their on-going career development and react in good time to their wants and problems. Of course, much of this I currently do via Skype or telephone because of the pandemic.
You have a engineering-related background. Is this important for your job?
It is not necessary to have a degree in engineering but is it of advantage if you work for a development service provider like ALTEN. I personally first learned technical drawing and subsequently attended the Technische Universität Berlin, where I studied mechanical engineering, specialising in power technology. I then worked in machine construction for a while before being employed by a CAD software company where I got a further qualification in industrial engineering in an extra-occupational course. Thanks to my technical know-how, I can now better understand the needs of our customers. For this reason, many of my colleagues who are also business managers hold industrial engineering qualifications.
What do you particularly like about your work?
Working in business management at ALTEN allows you to genuinely achieve something and provides you with a high degree of flexibility as to how you work, assuming you have the necessary ambition and enjoy what you are doing. What I also particularly like is the continuity that characterises our top management team despite our growth. I have an absolutely brilliant boss and super contacts and confidants who I have been able to turn to down through the years. The Coburg Technology Center has now been around for a good few years and is doing well. In 2020, an apprentice working at our Technology Center was recognised as the best trainee in Bavaria – that indicates how well the team functions.
But there are inevitably changes in all the areas in which I am active. Admittedly, I am not completely happy about all of these. At the same time, change means opportunities in certain areas and brings new ideas with it!
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the German economy. How has business management at ALTEN coped with this? What challenges are you currently facing?
It is March 2021, and we are still in the middle of a pandemic! A year ago, in March 2020, the whole workforce of the Coburg Technology Center had to change over to working from home in just a few days. Although even before the coronavirus struck mobile working was possible in many parts of the company, certain departments, such as Construction, need special equipment – so this became a further challenge. It turned out that teams were able to function; we lost sight of none of our employees. Forms of communication with customers have completely changed; face-to-face meetings are out of the window and all contacts are made by telephone or video calls. At first this was a bit of struggle but now it all runs smoothly – and at times we can even have fun. We now have digital coffee breaks in the office.
The economy is undergoing a turnaround; we are aware of the negative but also the positive sides of this. If we remain open to change, we need have no concerns for the future!