From his studies to his first job, science shaped his career path, then he discovers a new strength at Kulzer and takes a turn. As a chemist with a doctorate, Michael Hendrich moves from Research & Development at Kulzer to the company's People & Organizational Development department. Here he tells his story.
After my graduation and PhD in chemistry in 2016, it was kind of clear: the next step is a laboratory management position. So, as a recent graduate, I looked around for a corresponding position.
The job advertisement from Kulzer particularly appealed to me and it was immediately clear that I would apply. It was already obvious in the job advertisement that Kulzer not only looks at the professional competence but also at the personality and whether someone fits into the team. I still think that's important. And it fit: in 2017, I started at Kulzer in Research & Development as a chemist for impression materials. I was very enthusiastic about my work, and I enjoyed the research work.
It wasn't long before I discovered a new interest alongside my scientific inclination: During my technical management responsibility in the laboratory, I discovered that I was also interested in the personal development of my colleagues beyond the content-related topics.
When I started working at Kulzer, I took part in the induction program that accompanies new employees as they join the company. This is where I first came into contact with HR topics and personnel development. Whereas previously everything revolved around scientific questions and data, my curiosity was now aroused about a completely different topic. Whether at team-building workshops or during regular exchanges with colleagues from HR development – the more I got involved with the subject of HR, the more my enthusiasm for the department grew.
Then this one job was advertised. I read it as an invitation to take a chance: In 2020, I decided to take a new path and applied for the position of Manager HR Development. It may seem so out of character for a scientist, but – this was a gut decision. And the surprise at this extreme change of direction did not fail, but I was nevertheless encouraged and supported by colleagues and superiors. Of course it was clear that this could also go wrong, but my curiosity was greater and everyone in my future department was also prepared to simply embark on this journey, to give me a chance, even if my professional background was different.
So, after 10 years of natural science, I entered completely unknown territory. I had to get used to working in a completely different way: Whereas in Product Development there is rather a fixed roadmap, procedures are standardized, lab data only allows one statement and there can only ever be one right answer, now there is no longer one solution as I was used to. There is no longer one plan and you have to find solutions in a very different way. Even though that felt uncertain, it was exciting. What helped me was that I enjoy learning new things and – typical scientist – want to understand everything. One advantage from my job in Research & Development at Kulzer is that I know topics and processes from the inside out. I have realized how valuable my experience from everyday laboratory life can now be in understanding problems and challenges.
After just under a year in the new role, I have learned a lot, developed professionally and found my permanent place. Of course it was challenging, but I would do it again and am grateful for this opportunity to develop in a completely new direction in the same company.