Katrin Schreibmüller

Senior Engineer for Fireproof Technology

“My original career goal was to get into forensic technology. And while I have ended up in a different field, I feel the work is essentially the same: I work in a laboratory, I analyze, I reconstruct, and I bring together pieces of puzzles. Except my "victims" are steel frying pans and the like. Believe it or not, working with them is almost as exciting!”


My job is about examining, analyzing and optimizing

In terms of formal qualifications, I am a mineralogist (Diplom-Mineralogin). Within the Fireproof Technology team , my role is to work closely with my manager to perform wide-ranging tasks (everything from iron ore to flow control) in accordance with customer requirements. These customers can be fellow employees, suppliers or companies from other sectors in which fireproof materials are used. Our tasks consist in examining either materials yet to be used, or materials that have already been used but have lost their functionality at too early a stage. To find out why this failure happened, how exactly it came about and how to avoid it happening in future, we first analyze a sample under the microscope. We then subject it to x-ray analysis to determine what raw materials it is composed of and what its mineral phase compositions are. We then compare all our findings with the results of the chemical and physiochemical analyses. After that, we conduct a plausibility check before everything is put together to ensure that we can reconstruct the scenario in full. Further tasks include advising our customers, for example on what materials are best suited to their requirements, and developing and optimizing lining  concepts in close coordination with our internal R&D department. We also participate in interdisciplinary projects together with suppliers, universities and research institutes.

My challenges

Because the content of our jobs, whether material failures, material inspections or lining  concepts, can vary so greatly, we don’t work according to static procedures. Often, we need to try approaches time and time again and work things out piece by piece. There aren’t many women working in the fireproofing industry. I am the only woman in my team in fact, and on top of that am quite young. As a result, my role can be quite demanding in terms of breaking down barriers and challenging the opinions and expectations of customers and colleagues.

My typical working day

After saying good morning to everyone and checking my emails, we have a brief staff meeting. Here, we update each other on the samples to be processed, exchange information on the materials and preparation processes concerned, and prioritize samples and jobs. Following the meeting, my day can take a number of different directions. I might have other meetings, I might be taking samples, I might be discussing project content with customers, partners, etc., I might be in the laboratory examining samples under the microscope. Or I might be evaluating results and writing a corresponding case report. Other common tasks include updating existing reports and entering new findings, recordings, and sub-studies into the system, and then discussing these with my manager. Of course, these can be interrupted at any time by an important phone call requiring me to drop what I am doing and deal with problems in our facilities or at external customers' facilities.

Our tagline is "engineering. tomorrow. together.". For me, "together" means...

is something I feel whenever I go to the gym and see the blue thyssenkrupp keyrings on people’s fitness center keys. That’s when I think to myself: Oh look, another one of us. And there are lots of blue keyrings at the fitness center... :)

Realizing your potential, having fun, being happy

The variety that my job involves is very important to me. My work means that I am away from the office a lot, visiting production facilities, attending project meetings, or working at the microscope in the lab. I also enjoy the fact that thyssenkrupp is so big and so diverse, and can therefore offer wide-ranging opportunities in terms of people development and careers. What’s more, in such a diverse environment you are continually interacting with different characters and different cultures, and this makes working here exciting and challenging. A lot is expected of me. But then the company also shows great confidence in me. I have a lot of responsibility and decision-making power. I feel that, if I want to, I can really achieve great things here. And I look forward to coming to work each and every day.

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