I had no reason to change jobs

Sandra Kucharek has been successfully training up each new generation of employees at Gerresheimer Tettau for decades

Düsseldorf/Tettau, January 03, 2018. At Gerresheimer, experienced and dedicated trainers ensure that the company’s apprentices receive the best possible training. Sandra Kucharek is one of them. She built her career at Gerresheimer from scratch and has been supporting the company’s trainees for decades. Sandra is celebrating 30 years with the business this year. In this interview, she tells us about starting out in working life and her long career.

Sandra Kucharek was 15 years old when she finished school and began an apprenticeship. Her parents and grandfather were already working in production at Tettauer Glas AG, now Gerresheimer Tettau GmbH. Having known the company from an early age, there was no question of where she herself would train. Her career now stretches back 30 years. In this interview, she describes how she got where she is today.

What struck you most at the beginning?

To move straight from school into a large, thriving company – that certainly made an impression on me. One minute you’re a school pupil, the next you’re part of a business with a unique atmosphere and pace. A glass factory works around the clock, meaning you can never sit back and savor your success. Back then, I always enjoyed working with my colleagues in production and watching the production process unfold. You had to work well together and we had to coordinate our work seamlessly. The company already had over 400 employees in those days. 

How did your training progress?

I began my apprenticeship in Purchasing. In my seventh month, I got a job in the HR department. With two colleagues retiring and moving away, I’ve remained in HR to this day. So I’ve always been a “people person” in every respect and really enjoy what I do. After three years of training, I passed my vocational qualification to become a business administrator in July 1990.  

Why have you never worked for any other employer?

Because I work for such a good employer and never saw the reason to move. And I’m not the only one, either. In Tettau, employees stay with us for a long time - almost 17 years on average. I also have close ties to the region and really enjoy working with people. When it comes to my work in HR, I simply find that my skills fit well with the company’s requirements.

What is important to you in your role?

The variety of tasks involved, from recruitment and staff support through to staff development and payroll, is a key challenge for me. I enjoy finding solutions to the needs of individual members of staff, whether these are of a professional or private nature. A major focus of my work is offering close personal support to our employees. I like planning and organizing and see myself as a service provider for my “customers” – that’s how a view my colleagues.

Sandra Kucharek and her trainees
Sandra Kucharek and her trainees

How has vocational training changed over the years?

First and foremost the technological transformation: When I began my apprenticeship, we used typewriters. These days, our apprentices walk around the office with laptops. It means we expect different things from our current trainees than were expected of me back then. Even my current job is constantly changing: Whereas pay was calculated manually before, now it’s all done by computer with payroll programs. Our department used to be called Staff Administration, now it’s known as Staff Support. 

What advice would you give young people who need to make a decision about their future as you did 30 years ago?

I’d tell them they should choose a career that suits their skills and one that they will really enjoy. At the time I started my apprenticeship, I had already completed work placements in several fields to find out where my strengths and weaknesses lay. You have to ask yourself, what career suits me? Where can I imagine myself working in the next few years or decades? 

How many apprentices have you trained or supported?

I’ve trained around 300 apprentices in the company as whole. Not on my own, of course. Many of my colleagues share this responsibility of providing successful training. Good teamwork is absolutely essential to success here as well. As well as our trainees, the company as a whole also hosts roughly 25 to 30 work experience students each year. 

What do you love about your job as a trainer?

I always wanted to choose a career that involved working with people. My day-to-day HR work and contact with colleagues are the key parts of a typical day for me. That’s one of the reasons I’m one of the company’s Ambassadors for Corporate Values. I also care deeply about the health of our staff, so I spent nine months completing further training that led to me qualifying as a specialist in operational health management in February 2017. External partners like health insurance funds, professional associations, occupational physicians, schools, etc. also play a key role in my everyday work. 

How do you relax and unwind after work? What helps you feel refreshed and restored?

I love relaxing by reading a book and I enjoy cooking and going for a walk. When the weather’s nice, I spend the weekend with my family camping on Monte Kaolino in Hirschau. That’s where I recharge my batteries barbecuing with friends. 

More information is available online

Training at Gerresheimer  

About Gerresheimer

Gerresheimer is a leading global partner to the pharma and healthcare industry. With specialty glass and plastic products, the Company contributes to health and well-being. Gerresheimer operates worldwide and its approximately 10,000 employees manufacture products in local markets, close to its customers. With plants in Europe, North America, South America and Asia, Gerresheimer generates revenues of around EUR 1.4 bn. The company’s comprehensive product portfolio includes pharmaceutical packaging and products for the safe, simple administration of medicines: insulin pens, inhalers, prefillable syringes, injection vials, ampoules, bottles and containers for liquid and solid medicines with closure and safety systems as well as packaging for the cosmetics industry.

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