Greta Höller (23) studied production logistics at the Free University of Bolzano and followed a dual course of study which enabled her to carry out an internship in process optimization at Röchling-Automotive in Leifers during the first two years of her bachelor.
Since February 22, 2016, after having successfully completed her Bachelor's degree, Greta has been working at Durst Phototechnik AG as a “Work Preparation / Lean Production Specialist”. In our interview, she talks about when she was studying, the experiences she gathered while working and her roles and activities as a new starter at Durst.
What were the reasons behind you choosing to study production logistics at the Free University of Bolzano?
Even when I was in school, I knew that natural sciences subjects such as physics, chemistry and mathematics interested me more than literary and humanities subjects. The Free University of Bolzano not only offers interesting courses of study, but it also offers a variety of sponsorship programs and has an international focus. I knew that I wanted to learn something to do with engineering sciences, but this also had to involve aspects of economics. So the production logistics course was perfect for me. It's based on natural sciences, but it has a huge amount to do with how things are organized in companies and in production.
Are you happy with your decision? Are you able to put what you’ve learned to good use in your job?
I've got to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by what the Free University of Bolzano offered. Not only does it have highly qualified national and international teaching and research staff, but the university is also well known for its international approach that, as an outsider, you really can't imagine. It was always very important for me to keep up my three languages while I was studying, and the university allowed me to do that by offering the curriculum in three languages (German, Italian and English).
The course had a very practical focus too, because many of the professors in the main subjects also work as consultants in corporate logistics and therefore they are able to connect the theory with everyday working situations really well. I'm able to use the logistics methods I learned very effectively in my job now.
Back in the winter of 2014, you spent an internship period with Durst. What brought the company to your attention?
I first got to know Durst on a visit during my third year at the university. I realized that I recognized a few of the faces there through the university in Bolzano, and this is what helped me get my internship. A former university colleague told me about an internship vacancy, so I applied. From October 2014 to March 2015, I worked in the Work Preparation / Production Logistics department.
What did you hope the internship would bring you? And were your expectations met?
When I started my internship, I was assigned my own project - “Workstation design of the gamma color series”. I was given targets to work towards, but then I was able to tackle the work entirely on my own. At pre-defined intervals, my methods were checked and I was given support when I needed it. The staff was always there to help me. Through the internship at Durst, I’d hoped to discover a different reality, one away from the series production. In other words, I wanted to see a company that focused on the customized production of industrial equipment.
So how did you get a permanent post at Durst?
Once I’d completed my Bachelor's degree, I wanted to do something very different for a while, so it was quite good that the Expo was being held in Milan that year. I worked there for seven months as a hostess. In November 2015, I then started to apply to a range of companies in the Southern Tirol. One of them was Durst, which was the one I ultimately settled on. The decision criteria included the workplace, which I already knew, as well as my supervisor, Mr. Rico Sauerborn. I regard him very highly, as he is always encouraging the development of his staff. And that's very important to me in my professional career.
Briefly describe your current role at Durst. What do your core duties involve?
I'm currently working on a number of projects that relate to the optimization of ongoing processes. After recording the time taken by the individual process steps, these have to be analyzed in order to discover any potential for improvement. We then try to utilize this potential with the team involved in the process. Production layout, material supplies, etc.
What sort of skills do you need to bring to your job?
Flexibility, independence, confidence, sensitivity and a desire to bring about change.
How do you handle yourself as a woman in a fairly male-dominated workplace? Do you get the respect you deserve?
I can't really say there is any major difference from my female-dominated working environment at the Expo. If I'm not respected, then it certainly isn’t because I'm a woman. I do think, though, that any young employee will meet some resistance, whether they are male or female. I also realize that I’ve got tremendous backing from my superiors, and that’s probably why it works so well. What does make me smile, though, is that my daily choice of clothing is much more difficult in a male environment than in a mixed one. Three-quarter-length trousers aren’t allowed in production, but skirts are! J
What are your personal career goals?
To become a production manager! I really like my current role, but I'm looking for more responsibility and coordination tasks. I'm aware that I’ve got a long way to go to get there yet, which is why I try and learn something new each day.
What areas would you still like to learn more about?
My main role involves implementing optimization processes and that calls for a lot of sensitivity. I still need to work on that a bit. Being diplomatic with colleagues is an absolute must.
How would your supervisor describe you?
Able to take projects forward unsupervised, but there's still some work to do when it comes to communication.
If you had to describe the experience you've had so far at Durst in one sentence, what would it be?
Durst is an extremely future-focused company that really encourages its workforce and creates an exceptionally positive working environment.