Trainee Communications, Brand & Customer
“As a sportsman through and through, I never thought I’d find anything else I could be as passionate about. But the pioneering “Dual Career” project at thyssenkrupp showed me just how enthusiastic I could become about technology. I truly believe that this project offers excellent future prospects. And I’m set to become a part of it at the end of 2016.”
What I wanted to be when I grew up...
My enthusiasm for sports began at a very young age and never abated. So sport is something I have always invested a lot of time and effort in. I even did a degree in sports science. This was where my focus and my goals lay for a long time. But daring to consider other paths and allowing myself to feel curious about doing something else has so far had very positive consequences for me. Indeed, once I retire from professional sport, I want a career with thyssenkrupp.
How did I find my way here?
I was told about thyssenkrupp by someone I know from hockey, and completed a 3-month internship program in the Communications Department in the summer of 2014. During this time, and following extensive discussions, the head of communications, Alexander Wilke decided to create a “dual career at thyssenkrupp” project for me to join once my internship finished. Neither of us had any experience with such projects and therefore didn’t know what to expect or how best to make it work. However, it gave us a lot of freedom in that we had no concrete plan to stick to; we simply had to proceed through learning by doing. Our first challenge was to find out how best to reconcile my professional sporting commitments with the requirements of my role at thyssenkrupp.
My role – a construct tailored to me
My role I work for the Communications Department, where I am tasked with brand and customer communication. In terms of formal structure my role is a combination of student assistant, intern and trainee. This ensures that I have flexible working hours, that I get a fixed salary (like an intern) and that I, thanks to my trainee status, am stationed in various different communications units over the course of the project. This structure is ideal for me, having been tailored according to my specific needs and circumstances. It effectively gives me the best of three worlds.
A typical working week: Playing my sport and doing my job
Field hockey is a complex discipline requiring excellent stamina, speed, strength and technique. I am a member of the German national hockey squad and also play for my club (Crefelder HTC). So I have to train a lot; every day in fact. In figures, I have 8-10 training units during the week and 1-2 matches at the weekends. This amounts to 25-30 hours of sporting activity a week, alongside 35 working hours. I therefore have a 60- to 65-hour week, not including traveling time.
A typical Monday-Friday training week consists of morning training sessions at our national sports facility together with other Cologne-based team members, evening training sessions with my club team Crefelder HTC, and regeneration phases. And then of course there is my job with thyssenkrupp AG in Essen. At weekends I have Bundesliga matches that often involve traveling long distances. I also have physiotherapy sessions 2-3 times a week. With an intense training regime, Bundesliga matches at the weekends, and tournament phases on top of all that, my levels of physical exertion are very high. Joining thyssenkrupp has of course meant that I am doing even more now, and that I can dedicate less time to focused recuperation. Regular physiotherapy is therefore essential.
On Mondays, my training schedule generally consists of endurance and regeneration sessions. The intensity of these tends to be based on how intense our weekend match or matches were. I generally do my regeneration exercises in the evening after work. My schedule for Tuesday through Thursday is similarly stringent: I have a training session at 7:30 a.m. (2 units of strength training, 1 of sprint training), and start my job at thyssenkrupp at 10:30 a.m. So we try to schedule more flexible appointments involving fewer people after this time. If meetings take place before I arrive, my colleagues let me know of any results, tasks and next steps discussed. Because my evening team training sessions begin at 7:30 p.m., I work until 6 p.m. at the latest. I then drive directly to Krefeld. My training sessions here last for 2 to 2.5 hours and end at around 10 p.m. I then make my way back to Cologne and am in bed by around 11:30 p.m. Fridays mainly consist of regeneration and recuperation exercises in preparation for the Bundesliga games at the weekend. I do these after work, just as I do on Mondays. They might involve, for example, light jogging, stability exercises and long stretching exercises.
I spend 100-120 days a year traveling with the national hockey squad. Some of this time is spent at training camps which last between 2 and 12 days, and at which we prepare for tournaments or national hockey matches. Some are spent at tournaments, of which we have 4-5 a year. These include smaller tournaments, the qualification rounds for the Hockey World Cup or Olympic Games, the so-called Hockey World Leagues, and one of the three major tournaments, i.e. the EuroHockey Nations Championship, the Hockey World Cup or the Olympic Games. On top of all this, we also have the Indoor Hockey World Cup and Eurohockey Indoor Championships, which however don’t enjoy the same status as field tournaments.
Before larger tournaments, which require office absences of up to 2.5 weeks, I have a hand-over meeting with my replacement(s) to pass on any current projects and unfinished tasks. During my absence, I do continue to read and answer my emails. But my focus during training camps and tournaments is of course on hockey.
Our tagline is "engineering. tomorrow. together.". For me, "together" means...
…collaborating with colleagues to bring projects to fruition. Being a team sportsman, effective cooperation and communication are very important to me. Indeed, I see them as essential to success. My team sporting accomplishments of the past few years have shown me just how much a well-coordinated team with a strong sense of camaraderie can achieve.
My future: get fully involved at thyssenkrupp
My main goal is to join thyssenkrupp as a full-time employee once the 2016 Olympics in Rio (which we will hopefully win) are over. My time with the company has shown me that I can be inspired by, and enthusiastic about things other than sport. Technology, for instance. Among the factors that make thyssenkrupp so appealing are the security that it provides as a large corporation; the many opportunities to advance both professionally and in sporting terms; the flexibility it offers in terms of changing career field or company location, and the diversity. Indeed, because my sporting commitments mean spending a lot of time at training camps and tournaments abroad and mixing with lots of different cultures, thyssenkrupp’s diversity is something I really enjoy.
My goal for later in my career is to take on a leadership position at the company. Having gained some team leadership experience through hockey, I feel I would like to lead teams at work too. While I don’t yet know what my career at thyssenkrupp will be, I do know that I’ll pursue my professional goals in the same way as I do my sporting goals. And hopefully, I’ll be just as successful.