After a visit from our dtw-colleagues to Niestetal, an SMA delegation was to travel to Poland. Loaded into two small buses, football shoes packed, 12 SMA employees and I made the 830 km journey to Zabierzów, home of dtw.
André Kölsch got the idea quite spontaneously. At the last SMA company meeting, he just wanted to get something to drink when it was time for audience questions. But for some reason, this employee from the mail department walked up to the microphone instead. “I have a big mouth anyway, and thought I’d just go for it,” he told me later. André had been thinking about ways to improve the company and presented a few suggestions about things he wanted to see changed. “This is how you could save money in a number of areas,” he said. Pierre Pascal Urbon, Speaker for the SMA Managing Board, though André’s ideas were excellent and promptly invited him to a meeting to further discuss his suggestions.
Suggestions for Improvement
Shortly after the company meeting, many colleagues came up to speak with André. “Are you really going to speak to the Managing Board?”, “Did you mean that seriously?”, “That’s really courageous of you!”, were just a few of the reactions. Many, though, also gave him additional suggestions and ideas for improvement to pass on at the meeting, although he had already prepared a number of points himself. “On my mail route, I cover a lot of ground and get to see a lot of the company,” says the 29 year old. “I’m always noticing things which could be improved upon.”
To The Board with 11 Points
A few weeks later, it was time for the meeting. André sat in the executive office with a list of 11 suggestions. He worked through the list together with Pierre-Pascal Urbon. André reported, “It was really great! Mr. Urbon spent a lot of time with me and wrote down every suggestion I had in detail.” For most points, Mr. Urban was able to give him feedback directly. Urbon thought André had a number of great ideas, several of which he wanted to discuss with the involved parties following the meeting, and he was able to explain why a few of the ideas would be difficult to achieve for whatever reason. Our colleague from the mail department reported, „I’m very excited to see what will come of my ideas, and will soon ask how things are coming. And, of course, I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for even more suggestions to pass along.“
I’m not exactly sure how we came up with the idea, really. A few colleagues were just talking during the lunch break and the topic of horses came up. We quickly realized there were several active riders in the HR department and several more who once rode horses. So, I though it could be something the department could do together. While other departments bowl or grill together, I thought an outing to go riding would be something really unique.
Our company culture is really a ’simple’ thing, provided everything is running smoothly. As long as a company is growing and the sole issue is welcoming new employees, the only real complaint is usually just that there isn’t enough time to train them. Of course, we all work hard, and are always under time pressure, and suddenly this project is more important than the one we all slaved over the week before, but hey; our company is a “Great Place to Work“.
Sometimes I have to think for a while when standing in front of my closet in the morning. Should I wear the light blouse, the colorful shirt or just my favorite sweater again? Many colleagues (mostly female) know exactly what I’m talking about. Those who have the choice, are forced to decide. Personally, though, I think it is great I can wear whatever I like at SMA, as there is no official dress code at work. In other words, it’s like every day is Casual Friday. 😉
This shouldn’t go without saying, as many companies favor a mandatory dress code.
When I was asked to travel to SMA India to help our Indian colleagues with service CRM and logistics, I was a little bit nervous but mostly excited. It was my first time in India and in Asia.
“Fight Yourself Fit” is the newest addition to our sports programs. After an initial trial workshop that was open to all SMA employees who wanted a sneak peek into this ancient sport, “Fight Yourself Fit” is here.
The Sunny Seniors paid a visit to SMA at the end of January. We keep regularly contact with our seniors, even after they enter their well-earned retirement. The annual new year reception for our SMA retirees has therefore now become a tradition.
Christmas party at SMA – an unparalleled event. Colleagues assured in advance that the party would be something very special. They also reminded that as a new SMA employee, I would definitely have to sing. I was not worried in the least and was looking forward to my first Christmas party last Friday in the Kassel exhibition halls.
The first impression was overwhelming: Tables were set, replete with Christmas decorations, for around 4,300 SMA employees. The buffet, which was set up in the adjacent hall, offered a litany of tasty delicacies and required next to no waiting time. A number of colleagues made a great deal of baked goods, creating a bottleneck of people at the cake buffet. In the end, we ate it all. I decided that I would definitely bake a cake for next year’s Christmas party.
Diversified & Emotional Program
I naturally wanted to be as close to the stage as possible to take in the activities up close and personal, which kicked off at 3:00 p.m. In his opening speech, Speaker of the Managing Board, Pierre-Pascal Urbon, clearly pointed out how turbulent the fiscal year was and how well we managed the difficult challenges. Chair of the Works Council, Yvonne Siebert, also spoke about the positive and negative aspects of the developments in 2011. Our Managing Board proved to be genuine talkshow hosts. During a very informative and entertaining discussion round, Pierre-Pascal Urbon asked his Managing Board colleagues what they achieved in their respective departments over the year and how things would continue in 2012. Company founders Günther Cramer and Peter Drews also spoke. They orchestrated a very personal look back over the last 30 years. As they drew their speech to a close, they were certain that “We could not have done it better.” Then came an impressive response: All the SMA employees gave thunderous applause and standing ovations for several minutes.
I got goose bumps once again as some of my colleagues beamed up on the stage singing a song. Chief Sales Officer, Marko Werner, left quite the friendly impression as he accepted the musical singer Lisa’s invitation to dance on the stage. After the program was over, the SMA band fired up the crowd and entertained the guests. We danced in the disco until the wee hours of the morning.
To sum it all up, it was a fantastic party and the Trade Show & Events team were flawless in organizing it. It’s just too bad that we did not raise more money at the annual Christmas donation campaign. After all, SMA supports three social projects with this campaign.
When you were 13, did you already know what you wanted to be? I didn’t.
Did you enjoy doing your homework when you were 13? I didn’t.
And no, I didn’t know how important school and education would be for me and for my life to come. Going to school is simply a fact of life. But it is also safe to say that I would have much rather gone to play handball or to the pool with my friends.
A foreign language is a skill that is always valuable in one’s career, such as when talking on the phone with colleagues abroad. To make sure everything goes smoothly, SMA offers a wide range of language courses.
SMA offers a broad spectrum of language levels, ranging from beginner to business fluency to near native. Each of the levels are very important for determining which course is the best fit based on the participant’s prior knowledge and to determine whether one’s own language skills could be improved. Just like in school, you must first take a placement test to determine the right course for you, but the assessment is exceptionally helpful: it ensures that you’ll end up in just the right course! That, for example, helps prevent boredom or ensures you’re not uncomfortable talking in front of classmates whose skills may exceed your own.