They say that frequent job transitions are beneficial for your career. Ever-changing work surroundings, experiencing different management styles, adapting to new team structures, is valuable. And still, it seems like for me, it´s quite the other way around.
Anyone working today wants a task that makes sense, where responsibility is taken on. A job that leaves room for design and creativity. A job that challenges the brain cells – without too much pressure from the boss.”www.wiwo.de
Two years ago, I had my 20th Siemens Anniversary. I´ve spent most of that time (16 years, believe it or not) at University Relations, which makes me kind of a dinosaur in my team. Why would you do the same thing for so long? Here´s how my typical working routine looks like.
Starting the week together
Monday, 9.30 am – I look at my computer screen and see the faces of nine cheerful colleagues in MS Teams in our “Monday Morning” meeting.
We are the Siemens University Relations team (T UR), taking care of strategic collaboration with academia on a global scale. In our weekly call, we talk about the projects we´re currently working on and jointly develop solutions for challenges we´re facing as a team.
Today I present the content pipeline for the upcoming “Research & Education Newsletter”. This newsletter is part of our internal communication efforts to inform the Siemens community about our services and the offerings and activities from our academic partner network. I am still missing some information about the upcoming conference at one of our CKI universities (CKI = Center of Knowledge Interchange) that I want to include in the next newsletter edition. My colleague Sebastian tells me that his article draft is ready on our common network drive. At first, I have difficulties accessing the file remotely from my home office. This is one of the challenges of the “New Normal” I struggle with increasingly less patience: unlimited and fast network access. But finally, I can open the document and immediately start working on Sebastian´s article. Writing and editing texts brings me great pleasure. I´m glad this is part of my job.
There are many firsts in times of the “New Normal”
For the first time, the annual Siemens Communications Conference (SCC) is held completely virtual and is available to the whole global community of communicators at Siemens. Being responsible for communication activities at T UR myself, I happily join in. First thing that strikes me is that we are greeted by a highly professional duo of human moderator and machine, the “machine” being the virtual character noonoouri who symbolizes the digital transformation. In a wide variety of keynotes, panel discussions and interactive sessions with communications experts from inside and outside Siemens, I learn that digital is at the heart of everything now. One of the strategic priorities of Comms at Siemens in 2021 will be the focus on “technology with purpose”. University Relations exactly fits in here, with Siemens and academia jointly developing technological solutions for problems our society is facing. I guess I have to figure out how to convert this into a tailored communication for our UR community and beyond. It´s time to get creative!
A foreboding sense of déjà vu
I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day when I have the umpteenth call regarding Siemens software licenses in UNICO3. This topic is a tricky one. UNICO3 is our global database for academic research collaborations at Siemens and has been my faithful companion at T UR in the last 16 years. We´ve had our ups and downs, but we have come far.
At present, UNICO3 contains more than 13.000 research collaborations from all Siemens businesses with universities in 80 countries, from the early 1980ies (!) until today. At T UR, we always strive to make UNICO3 better, content- and usability-wise. That´s why we currently think about incorporating licenses, education & training topics into UNICO3. However, different Siemens units are issuing academic licenses. We must find out which ones, how they do it, how they report their activities and if they could provide us information that finally could improve UNICO3. In this endeavor, the UNICO3 female taskforce that is my colleague Inga and I, are working together tirelessly with colleagues from Sales, Marketing, Technology & Innovation and Legal & Compliance, being located all over the globe. Finding out all about academic license allocation at Siemens is like finding the needle in the haystack. Our numerous calls take place at every imaginable hour of the day, but they are bearing fruit: now we have at least an idea how to capture licenses & education topics in UNICO3.
A goldmine of facts & figures
You can spend a lot of time not only on the development of UNICO3, but also on doing reports with it. I´ve been working the past days to extract data about our global 25 strategic partner universities from UNICO3.
- Which research projects are currently running?
- What money does Siemens spend at each university?
- Why do certain activities succeed and others don´t?
- Who are the key contacts at each university?
- How are we doing in terms of public funding?
This data serves as a basis for the Engagement Plans we prepare every year for each of the 25 universities, showing the scientific, institutional and personnel engagement that Siemens has with them. The effort is worthwhile, as it gives us and the management a compact overview of the impact of UR´s work.
A difficult decision – who sleeps when?
Later that week, I am the sleep robber again: whom to wake up very early and whom to keep up at night? The Global Siemens UR team is already used to me scheduling “red eye” meetings, but we´re having our Global CKI Manager Call. The CKI Managers are the main pillars of our CKI partnership that we have established at eight universities worldwide. Since we cover four different time zones with our global strategic university network reaching from the US West Coast to mainland China, we must fit early birds and night owls into one call. This time, we talk about the UK Connected Curriculum for academia. This initiative supports academia in educating their students on Industry 4.0 technology & tools.
My week´s favorite meeting
Thursday, 10.30 am – Time for my favorite meeting of the week, the virtual coffee break with my colleagues! Although it is an optional meeting, meant only for socializing (something our boss Natascha puts a big emphasis on to keep the good team spirit up), it has become a dear habit of mine. I really miss the personal exchange with my colleagues in Covid-times, being able to talk not only business with them, but also about our private lives: our children who all face similar challenges when it comes to homeschooling, planned journeys that are being postponed again and again, and finally funny family insights that give us a good laugh every now and then. Like the time when my colleague Constanze told us about her daughter in first grade who had to work on an exercise sheet with a “word memory”. Instead of connecting the matching words with a pencil, she cut out all of them, just like real memory cards, and her mother had to print out the exercise sheet again.
Sometimes this meeting doesn´t even feel like work at all, but more like a gathering of old friends. I guess that´s just what my colleagues have become over the many years. I am not surprised at all our team regularly scores top marks in the Siemens employee satisfaction survey.
And what about myself:
👍 A task that makes sense?
👍 A job that leaves room for design and creativity?
👍 A boss who trusts and empowers me to take on responsibility?
👍 And, most important, colleagues who stand by each other?
Totally applies to me. I wouldn´t trade that for the world. Here´s to the next 20 years!