From Leverkusen to Fribourg – my short term assignment in Switzerland

My name is Tino Mangner and I am working for Covestro as a sales coordinator in the Coatings, Adhesives, Specialties (CAS) Business Unit. My first day at the company was September 7, 2011, and I started out as a commercial trainee. Now I am in the fifth semester of a dual-studies program for business administration and business psychology.

I have always been curious about what working at other company sites would be like, and during a career development talk with my supervisor I mentioned that I would like to gain experience abroad. My wish came true faster than I would have imagined. A colleague at our Fribourg site was expecting a baby – and I was called on to fill in for her while she was on maternity leave!

I have to attend a lecture for my studies at least twice a week, so good time management is everything to me. I asked myself if I should really stop attending the lectures for a semester. But I didn’t have to think it over for very long. This was an opportunity I just did want to pass up. So after making sure my classmates would provide me with the material from the lectures, I agreed to take on the job.

Exciting responsibilities and great colleagues – the perfect combination
I was able to work for six months at our site in Fribourg thanks to a short-term assignment program – which was developed to enable colleagues with strong potential to gain new experience and insights in other work environments. Fribourg is the location of the sales company for the EEMEA region (Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa).

I worked there as a business analyst and sales coordinator. In addition to filling in for my colleague, I was involved in a project that allowed me to not only apply my Excel skills, but also to further develop them – I worked with the new Excel feature PowerPivot, for example.

My primary tasks were to generate various analyses and evaluate statistical data. And I was responsible for updating customer prices for the company, along with coordinating various elements of the discounting process. I also gained fascinating insights into marketing and made arrangements for a number of conferences, trade fairs and events.

One thing that really stood out is the way the colleagues in Fribourg welcomed me. I felt comfortable and accepted right from the start, and the people had a lot of confidence in me – which was reflected in the tasks I was given.

Office in Fribourg – exams in Cologne? It all comes down to planning ...
I’m sure you’re wondering how my studies went during that period. Well, I actually did miss all of the lectures – but I sat for all the exams, so I successfully completed my semester. Although it was quite stressful to be constantly catching up on my course work and also to travel to Germany for every exam, it was well worth all the time and effort. But after being in Fribourg for a while I did miss one thing – German autobahns. In Switzerland you aren’t allowed to drive faster than 120 km/h on the autobahn.

When I look back at my time in Switzerland, I’m glad I had the courage to take the big step. I wouldn’t want to have missed out on the things I experienced there and the feeling of starting out fresh in a different country. To anyone who is offered such a chance, I can only recommend that you don’t hesitate for long – because it really pays off! If you would like to know more about my work at Covestro or my experiences in Switzerland, please feel free to contact me through my Xing profile.