There are two parts to my answer: The world of Blogging is relatively new to me, and it seemed completely alien until a couple of months ago. Since the whole world had to change tremendously due to the pandemic, I personally had to digitize myself at warp speed and guess what – I like it! That’s one of the reasons why I want to bring you here a week in my life as a University Relations Consultant at Siemens AG closer and to give you a small insight into the world of university-industry interaction. The other reason is pretty straightforward…I love my job. No two days are ever the same, I can shape both content and structure of my daily routine very independently, and I am always being kept on my toes with new topics.
“It always seems that times flies even faster on Mondays…”
Monday is of course when the cycle starts, usually with checking my calendar for the week and planning the things I would like to get done. A packed week lies ahead of me – Lessons Learned from the CKI Conference FAU 2020, Planning of the CKI Conference FAU 2021, the Expert Exchange Project, Annual Reports, CKI Conference RWTH Aachen, Mentoring Program, EEP Jour Fixe, and the R&D Workshop at TU Berlin. These abbreviations Siemens is famous for, are probably all Greek to you. But I promise, after this “week” with me, you can decipher most of them.
The start of my week is right now usually spent sat at my home office desk while I tap away at my laptop, breaking around 09.15h to rush into the kitchen to fix a cup of tea. Being back on time to join our regular local team meeting called Monday Morning at 09.30h. Every week I look forward seeing all my University Relations colleagues and learn about their current projects, challenges, and planned activities. It seems like we have a motto this week namely CKI Conference! Coincidentally, a lot of our work, tasks, organization, thoughts, and planning circles around this topic. Sebastian is having the CKI (Center of Knowledge Interchange) Conference at RWTH Aachen University on Wednesday, Ilaria an R&D Workshop at Technical University Berlin on Friday, and for myself – “the game starts after the match” – just shortly after the CKI Conference at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg University I am already tied up in planning the new event edition for fall 2021.
But enough said, I must hurry to my next meeting discussing possible models for a more vivid and easier Expert Exchange. We all strongly believe in the value added to our ecosystems by such an exchange between Industry and University and especially also vice versa (very hard to find good examples for this way – from University to Industry – so if you are aware of any, please drop me a line). As a sideline, I am using meeting-free minutes to write an article for a Siemens newsletter about the University student Start-Up probeX from FAU which has won the Siemens IIoT Challenge. The team developed a quality prediction model reducing testing efforts in Siemens’ electronics production using artificial intelligence methods.
On Tuesday morning, after answering some questions about more contractual aspects of the University-Industry relationship, e.g. “How to set up a contract for a student master thesis with Siemens?” or “Can you give me some advice on the right research project agreement to be used with University XYZ?”, I meet my counter-part Markus from the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) in our weekly Jour Fixe. The third in our group is my Siemens HR colleague Karin, our creative mind who is always hunting for the best early career professionals.
The FAU is one out of eight Siemens’ CKI Universities and due to its strategic importance for us, every one of those eight Universities has a so called CKI Manager located directly at the University and a dedicated UR Manager from our team (plus the above mentioned HR responsible). This partnering ensures a very close relationship to optimize all collaboration, research, and talent acquisition activities. So, that Siemens gains access to cutting-edge research and highly qualified young talents, the Universities run research projects close to industry’s real needs and open up valuable career opportunities for their graduates. Another benefit is the existence of Master Research Agreements with all CKI Universities, and thus new research projects can be started easily and quickly.
Today Markus, Karin and I discuss a couple of new thoughts for our collaboration like setting up a dedicated FAU Alumni@Siemens network maybe even paired with a mentoring program for FAU students. The ideas keep coming and soon our concept for the FAU Alumni@Siemens network takes shape – we decided to go for a closed LinkedIn group. Of course, the hour we have is too short, and we must continue in the following weeks Jour Fixe.
And off I go to another interesting meeting which has started already, Fabian and Sebastian are presenting their “Annual Reports” from TU München and RWTH Aachen. It is always very informative and instructive to see the different approaches, set-ups, and outcomes of the other seven CKI Universities since I naturally only know every detail about the FAU.
Once a month on Wednesday I have the pleasure to start my workday early in the morning at 08.00h with my fellow ladies from the EEP (Energize Experienced Professional) Program 2019 for a 30-minute peer group coaching. This internal program addresses experienced female leaders in the technology and innovation environment and is Siemens’ coaching initiative to boost their professional and personal development. During this 12-month program I learned a lot about my own resources and the resulting self-determination I have, not only for my career but also for myself as a person. I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program and I enjoy the growing network now through all management levels of Siemens.
And energized I feel after this enjoyable start, now ready to return to my “motto” of the week – the lessons learned including budget analysis of the annual CKI Conference at FAU 2020 “Digital Disruption – Impact on Knowledge Interchange”. For reasons well known, we had to re-invent the whole well-established concept from a presence event to a virtual format. And organizationally it does not make it easier if you have the Siemens deputy CEO Dr. Roland Busch and the FAU President Prof. Joachim Hornegger amongst your speakers. But since I have started to think about the 2021 CKI Conference at the FAU already this review is an important task to be done, especially since we partly will keep the virtual set-up.
Now I am in the perfect mood for today’s CKI Conference at RWTH Aachen “Technology Architecture for Applied AI – Smart Cities and Digital Enterprises”. I planned to only drop by for some inspiration and finally end up spending the rest of my day at this virtual event. Not everything is bad under the “new normal”, joining a conference without any business travel – I like .
“Today in 2 years….”
Already Thursday? Can’t be? It got a little late for me last evening at the CKI Conference at RWTH Aachen, but once again I was fascinated by the vast variety of topics, formats, talents, and innovations created through our work. I am proud to be part of such a capable and motivated team, which I will see now in our weekly informal Virtual Coffee. Man is, after all, a social being and our extremely perceptive manager, Natascha, got this at a very early stage of the pandemic. At 10.30h everybody settles in with a coffee or tea and we chit chat about all possible subjects, from current celebrity affairs to waking nights with a newborn. After some good laughs I must focus on my remaining day. What’s next?
In my calendar comes next a meeting about the new mentoring program we would like to establish at FAU. The planning is to take a different approach compared to the fixed structure of the existing ones, and rather use a modular system which is more flexible and easier to individualize both for the mentor and the mentee.
To complete my Thursday and to catch the momentum after several fruitful meetings and discussions about the topic of a more active Expert Exchange model for both industry and academia, it is time now to put some things on paper. At the beginning is always the need for a vision what we would like to achieve, so I spend the rest of my day formulating something around: “Today in 2 years we have a well-established Knowledge and Technology Exchange Program for both experts from Siemens and University with clear parameters regarding…”
Alongside catching up on emails from the week is about as exciting as my Fridays normally get…but not this one: The R&D Workshop with TU Berlin is due! Which means I have the pleasure to moderate the Deep Dive session “Buildings2020: Energy Efficiency & Contamination Control” for the experts from TU Berlin and Siemens. After an interesting pitch from TU Berlin a lively discussion arises touching points like Energy Management Systems, National 5G Energy Hub, Comfort Modelling, the Siemens “Comfy” App, and Short-Term Measures. I write a short summary for Ilaria and Hayri, the TU Berlin UR and CKI Manager tandem team, to be able to follow up on action items from this workshop. Finally I do a quick post for social media channels.
And now – WEEKEND!
That’s the beauty of what I do! I really like my job – for the research, for the outreach, for the people, and for the education.