DiaSys colleagues take the floor. After all, behind every company's success is the story of an employee. From apprentice to professional - in our interview series, they talk about their way to DiaSys, their daily work, give advice and share what makes them unique.
What kind of work do you do at DiaSys and how long have you been part of the team?
I have been working at DiaSys for exactly 20 years now. During this time, I have seen a lot of the company. Before I started here, I did a two-year apprenticeship as a CTA [chemical-technical assistant] at Fresenius and then continued as a graduate engineer. I wrote my diploma thesis here at DiaSys, led by Dr. Metzmann then, and was the company's first diploma student. Afterwards, I stayed in the R&D department for three years.
After this time, I changed to product management, even though I never intended to leave the laboratory. My responsibilities were the launch of the barcoded reagents and the small analyzers such as InnovaStar®, SensoStar and MC15. Later I became head of the Technical Support department, which was separated from QC during this time.
What are precisely the tasks of your department?
The After Sales Support department is divided into three divisions. The Reagent Support Center (RSC) handles everything related to reagents. Here, all our customers' questions will be answered, complaints will be processed and technical support for customers or internally will be offered. Also, smaller projects and product improvements are handled here. Simply said, everything concerning reagents.
Besides, we have our TSC, the Training and Support Center. Everything related to devices is handled here. Of course, this also includes customer training and support in cooperation with the sales department.
The third division is the target value assignment for multi-controls and multi-calibrators.
Which three characteristics do you need most as Head of Department?
I would say calmness, a certain amount of pragmatism in dealing with and between employees, but also between departments. You often act as a mediator when things are heating up on a certain level and you need to calm things down.
Empathy is an essential characteristic for me, especially if you have personnel responsibilities. But also decisiveness. In my position, I am much further away from all the technical details than before, but once a question comes up, a decision has to be made. Often at short notice or urgently. In other words, you need to have the courage and the will to make this decision.
Do you find it easy to hand over responsibility and leave decisions to the employees?
Yeah, it is easy for me. It is something you always have to practice, but in the meantime, it is easier than in the beginning. It has always been clear to me if I pass on a decision, then I have to live with the fact that it is made, carried out or implemented a little differently than I had expected. But this has always worked well so far.
What is the best advice you ever got and what is the best advice you can give?
This is a very difficult question, which I, unfortunately, cannot answer so specifically. There was never the best advice or the one person who gave it to me. At every stage of my life, I had a kind of mentor who helped me to move forward. For example, during my time at university, I had a lecturer whose slogan was "Get concrete". I think that is something important which often gets lost over time. This advice has helped me a lot. At DiaSys, too, when I started working for Dr. Metzmann, I learned an incredible amount. For example, how to keep the focus during meetings.
What I did without advice, and this is also the advice I can give, is to take advantage of opportunities. This also runs through my career here at DiaSys. I used the opportunities that were offered to me. In the beginning, I never wanted to leave the lab, never wanted an office job. I did not want any personnel responsibility either. Then opportunities opened up and I told myself I should do it anyway. Back then, I was asked if I would like to work as a product manager and I said yes, I will do it.
It is good to plunge in at the deep end, try something new and get out of your familiar surroundings. This always turned out to be positive so far. I have never regretted having made such a decision.
What do you appreciate most about your employees?
What I appreciate most about my employees is their willingness to go beyond the call of duty in the interest of customer satisfaction. We have a lot of customer contact, from complaint handling to technical support. Even more important is that they are not afraid to talk to me in case there are any criticism points, especially about others or me. They simply seek the conversation. That is very important to me. So I don't have to worry all the time whether something is bubbling under the surface.
Even heads of department have times off. What does your ideal vacation look like?
The ideal vacation is one that I still enjoy a long time beyond; usually a vacation close to nature, which is unusual or impressive. My best holidays were a camping trip in Iceland, a short trip to the Amazon jungle as part of a round trip through Brazil, and another nice one was a road trip with the family through the national parks in the USA's southwest.
What about your work-life balance?
I think work-life balance is hard to define, although everyone knows what it means. Everyone's priorities are different. I think what helps me is the high flexibility that the employer offers; just great. My job does not burden me so much that I would say, "I have two weeks of vacation now; I don't want to hear or see anything". Instead, it is not a problem if there is a real need and I get a phone call. That only happens in an emergency.
Furthermore, DiaSys opened up so many possibilities for me. Not in many companies, it is possible to return to a management position on a part-time basis. Home office is excellent for filling in the gaps in my daughter's daycare. That is worth a lot.
In your opinion, what makes a successful working day?
What I am good at, what I enjoy doing and what also fits the position well is playing firefighter. That means when there is a crisis somewhere, problems need to be solved, a short-term solution needs to be found, or something organizational needs to be implemented, such as for a training session or a customer visit, I blossom. I always feel good when I know we have found a great solution, everything worked out well and we made it despite initial difficulties. The employees also feel the same way and realize that they have helped the customer in the right way. The customer was satisfied and even said so. After a day like this, I can go home with a good feeling.
To conclude, we would like to know three fun facts about you that make you who you are!
One fun fact is, I am a voluntary owl. I am entirely a night person, I could always learn best in the evening, even during my time in school and university. Now, because of my child, I am an involuntary lark. Now I have to get some things done early in the morning and fall asleep early in the evening and wake up early again. Actually, I am more of an owl. I was formed into a lark.
The other thing is, you could leave me on a lonely island for a while with a good book and music. Reading and music are important to me, so I can easily do without company for some time.
And the third fact, which sometimes leads to confusion, I'm a Depeche Mode fan, but I also love to listen to heavy metal bands like ACDC or Disturbed. That can also be all mixed up. My taste in music is very varied.
Thank you very much, Alex, for your time and openness!