From a “pub child” to a manager of 40 people – in Christopher Hermann’s case there were only a few years between these two stages of life. Aged 19, just after graduating from high school and finishing his military service, he was given the opportunity to be the youngest expat at AT&S to go to China.
“I had just left school and all of a sudden I had the opportunity to go to Shanghai. That was during the financial crisis in 2007/2008 and I was the only process engineer in my area. Nobody spoke English or German, which was quite a challenge,” Christopher, who is in fact quite a relaxed person, recalls. But you can tell that this was a formative experience for him.
Then he went to Korea for a year with the goal to bring outsourced processes back to the company. At the age of 20, he was already responsible for 30 to 40 people. Why was he entrusted with so much responsibility at such a young age? Christopher has a charming answer: “My boss back then jokingly said that I looked so likeable in my application photo.” And more seriously: “I simply showed a lot of commitment, sometimes I was at work until midnight and seven days a week. That’s something my bosses really appreciated.”
“I had 12 different bosses and learned a lot from customers, suppliers and employees.”
Still very young, Christopher left Korea again a year later to go back to Shanghai and supported Nokia, AT&S’s largest customer at the time, as Account Quality Manager. He was responsible for complaints and customer training courses and meetings – worldwide, from Mexico and Finland to Korea and Japan.
Although he started to get a little homesick, the hobby football player stayed in Asia for more than ten years. Further stages included work as front-end quality manager and later Quality Director for the substrate division in Chongqing. “We started out with 50 people, and just under two years later, we had nearly 200 people there! We delivered 25 million substrates without a single complaint – that is something I am proud of.”
But then he returned to Austria after all and took over his current position as BU AIM Manager in Technology Development. “We are a growing team of 25 people in Hinterberg and nine in India and together with our main customers we are driving the developments. What counts is to always be up to date on the trends of the next three to five years. So far, smartphones and notebooks have led the way. Now the Internet of Things has become the absolutely dominating topic.”
“We have our hands in everything, even if you can’t always see it.”
His declared goal is to always put the focus on his team, to identify and develop the strengths of his team members and to hand over responsibility. “This was the only way for me to leave all the different functions and locations again and to let the local team take over.”
Aside from job, he now appreciates a certain balance, likes to play football and enjoys walking in the mountains. Nevertheless, there is one topic he cannot let go of: “I would like to go to university to study and get some further education. That was originally the plan when I was 18.” This may be a challenge given his full-time position with so much responsibility, but someone who can look back on such a steep career path as Christoph will also easily cope with university studies.
With AT&S since:
BU AIM Manager Technology Development in Leoben
Jan. 2018 – present
Quality Director in Chongqing City, China
Jan. 2016 – December 2017
Quality Engineering Manager in Shanghai City, China
July 2013 – December 2015
Account Quality Manager in Shanghai City, China
November 2008 – June 2013
Project Integration Manager in Gyeonggi-do, Korea
May 2008 – October 2008
Senior Process Engineer
March 2007 – May 2008
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