That’s in a nutshell what I do at Siemens University Relations.
Time is flying by. My first day back from parental leave (find my field report here) was only 3 months ago, but a glance at my calendar shows that I’m back to the daily grind at Siemens Technology (T).
It’s a challenge to get everything under control, with lockdown and kids at home. But it works and I ask myself: Why? One factor certainly is: I enjoy my work. I can work on many different topics and shape them by myself. Is that the “trick”? Various tasks, own projects, the possibility to structure the day according to my own ideas and preferences?
Looking at my week shows how diverse my work at University Relations (T UR) is.
It has long been established as a common start of the week for our team: the Monday Morning Meeting.
Today it’s exciting to hear what Ilaria shares. She had a big event at TUB, the strategic partner university she oversees: The R&D Workshop and Lunch Lecture with Cedrik Neike (MBM). The direct exchange between professors and Siemens employees in breakout sessions was particularly valuable for all participants.
As soon as I leave our meeting, the phone rings: A colleague from Smart Infrastructures calls:
“How can I work with universities?”
For these typical requests, I have a set of questions in mind to lead her to the most fitting form of collaboration:
- Is she more interested in quickly getting an exclusive result on a technical question?
– Then maybe a bilateral research project with one of our existing strategic universities would fit.
- Or does she want to collect new ideas from the students?
– Perhaps an idea competition would be good.
- Or is she looking in the long term for the possibility to collaborate with several professors from different universities?
– Perhaps a joint funding project would be an option.
- Does she have time-restrictions and needs to start soon?
– Another aspect that would speak favoring cooperating with one of our strategic partners.
Once the general conditions are clear I can start looking for a suitable academic partner. I remember that Sebastian organized the CKI Conference at RWTH Aachen with the topic “Technology Architecture for Applied AI – Smart Cities and Digital Enterprises”. Pretty sure, he has recommendations for matching research partners. And Arturo from the US presented in our team that UC Berkeley has the #FutureMakers Fellowships. Maybe also an option for her. I will also do an evaluation of the already existing university collaborations and ask Peter to get in contact for an evaluation via SciVal, the database of publications from universities worldwide.
The first UNICO3 training after parental leave is taking place.
Katharina had taken over the web-trainings during my parental leave, but now that I´m back we can take turns again and either include colleagues from the US or China in very early or very late webinars. As usual, I start with a short presentation about UNICO3 (the Siemens database for external research collaborations), “old fashioned” in PowerPoint. But fortunately, I can make the training more interactive and switch directly to the application. Whether you’re looking for a specific university or a particular type of collaboration, I show various ways of filtering. Any questions? -The discussion starts:
Which types of collaborations with universities belong in the database and which do not? Who are the contacts within one department? Or how to look for universities that are not yet collaborating with Siemens? I am glad that I could answer all questions. And a small hint to the new project UniQuest fits perfectly to the question, whether one can search the contents of the database in a clever google-like way.
The middle of the week – Social media draws my attention.
Besides two regular appointments with the UNICO3 team, I have a blocker “Social Media Postings for TechTalk”. The “Talk” is more a “Tour”, taking students on a digital excursion to a research department at Siemens. I’m sure it still has time, the TechTalk is not scheduled until mid-February. But as we all know, preparation is everything: we need a concept to reach the target group of tech-students. A look at Yammer, our internal “Facebook”, makes me doubt whether a post there would be effective. Perhaps within the group of working students or doctoral candidates? That could work, but they already know the company. It would probably be better for the TechTalk to spread the event in my external social network. But how?
I’m clearly not a “digital native”.
I think very carefully about how to formulate and place a post on LinkedIn: 😀 Emojis ✔ in ❔or ❌ out 🤔? Who to tag? Which #hashtags make sense? And how many? Questions upon questions, which probably make my life unnecessarily complicated.
The whole topic of social media marketing has increased. How can I reach the target group for our topics better and faster? Where do I have the greatest range? These are topics I’ve never touched before. At most the “problem” of whether my sister sees a pic of the homemade birthday card with the #hashtag #DIY on Instagram before it physically lands in her mailbox. Maybe I’ll block out a slot Friday afternoon to look on the internal Siemens training platform for webinars on social media.
A trip to my old office is on the agenda.
The New Normal has quickly become Just Normal. However, I am really driving to the Siemens office this Thursday to pick my long-ago ordered new headset and take my big screen from the office to my new everyday workplace in our living room. A trip to the office in Covid-times seems almost more complicated than a business trip before my parental leave:
When do I have to leave from home to be on time for my first meeting? Will there be any traffic jam? Did I remember taking the charging cable for the laptop? Is the cafeteria open?
Ordinary things that were completely normal or taken for granted the same time last year now demand an extra thought from my side. And new ones arise:
Did I sign in the ComfyApp to be registered in our office? Do I have my mask with me?
On the other hand, I enjoy working in peace and quiet. No robot vacuum cleaner doing its rounds around me or the laundry wanting to be transferred from the washing machine to the dryer. I can concentrate fully on my task today:
Quality management in the UNICO3 database.
Regularly we provide facts and figures about Siemens’ collaborations with academia to the management. Next week, there will be a meeting within the Technology steering committee. They will discuss collaboration with external academic partners. Therefore, today I am sitting down to check the assignment of the database entries to our Company Core Technologies (CCTs). I align with project managers, CCT responsibles, and UNICO3 Coordinators. Because besides completeness, the quality of the entries is the basis of all evaluations from the database.
It occurs to me that I need to talk to the development team from the IT department for UNICO3 to work on a ticket I created yesterday. It was about the topic of complex filter sets that a user used for reports, and he could not upload again. User satisfaction is one of the other key factors for operating UNICO3.
A short break between emails and phone calls: The weekly Virtual Coffee Round in our team.
Unfortunately for me, the coffee machine in our office was switched off. It probably hasn’t been in use for the last 9 months… Still, I really look forward to this 30-minute break every week, even if I don’t always make it. Now and then I catch a glimpse of what is on everyone’s agenda besides the everyday topics. Be it privately about the situation with quarantine, homeschooling, and online delivery services. Or experiences with new virtual collaboration formats or web-based trainings. A highly needed exchange and a good way to keep our team spirit up!
Meeting friends not seen for a long time – Corona makes it work!
I have a quiet Friday ahead of me. Today gives me time to work on a topic I took from our last global CKI Manager Meeting (the annual meeting with all our global counterparts from the strategic Center of Knowledge Interchange universities): Expert Exchange – a “student exchange” at high level. There is no lack of ideas, but rather of good examples. I know a few from Siemens. But what about the other way around? And how do Siemens engineers find a university that suits them? Maybe the idea could be linked to another project that is floating around in my head: Creating a platform for students to easily exchange with employees at Siemens. We will see…
Only a virtual lunch with a friend from school is on the calendar. In the last three months, we’ve “seen” each other more often than in the three years before! And yes, we both really do eat in front of the laptop and talk with our mouths full.
Wow, what a week: from consulting on a possible new collaboration to the topic of management reporting from our database and writing ✏ and posting ✉ in LinkedIn, all was there. And the new week is sure to be just as exciting. I’m looking forward to it!