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In our Diversity@NORMA series, we highlight the diversity of employees who work at NORMA Group. In 2021, the series focuses on NORMA Group’s female employees. Female colleagues from a variety of departments and countries report on their professional and personal experiences and provide insight into their wishes for the future.
Linda Breideband is a Product Engineer at the NORMA Group site in Maintal, Germany. In this interview, she talks about her role models, professional challenges and what her hopes are for the future.
What woman has had the greatest impact on you in your life, and why?
Throughout my life, my mother has always had the greatest impact on me. She was a very kind-hearted person and was always one of the strongest people for me. I am very much like my mother, especially when it comes to temperament. My father, on the other hand, radiates a special calm and wisdom. He is my pole of calm and in this respect also a great role model for me.
Do you have professional role models? If yes, who are they and why are they your role models?
I don’t have a specific professional role model – I am actually my own role model in a lot of ways. But I do have colleagues who I see as mentors. I received a huge amount of support from them when I joined NORMA Group after my apprenticeship and also afterwards when I was promoted to Product Engineer. Especially colleagues who had already been working for the company for a long time were there to advise me. On the one hand, I am grateful for the helpful support and, on the other hand, for the valuable knowledge that my colleagues passed on to me.
We continue to support each other today. I have a great team. We exchange ideas regularly, because the transfer of knowledge is incredibly important. We combine fresh ideas with valuable experience and knowledge from the past. This mixture or diversity is what makes us successful.
Why are you professionally where you are today?
I actually started in a completely different direction. I did an apprenticeship as a media designer at the Hanauer Anzeiger newspaper. But they were unable to hire me on a full-time basis due to a hiring freeze. Things were difficult in the printing and publishing business at the time. For that reason, I started actively looking for something new after my apprenticeship. Spatial drawing had always appealed to me, and I was also very good at mathematics and physics. So I started thinking about how I could combine my strengths in the best possible way. That’s how I came across the profession of technical draftswoman. I applied to NORMA Group and initially also started as a technical draftswoman after completing my apprenticeship in 2011. As part of an internal restructuring, I was promoted to Product Engineer in 2015 because of my commitment, experience and expertise. This is exactly where I am still after six years. I love my job.
And what does your career mean to you?
For the most part – and I think this is true for most of us – we work to live. Beyond that, however, it is also fundamental that we are passionate about our jobs. It’s also important to have some variety – it makes our day-to-day work interesting. As a product engineer, I am involved in a wide range of topics. In addition to my knowledge as a technical draftswoman, I also manage a large pool of data and am responsible for special analyses. These are all areas that interest me greatly – and tasks that I am passionate about. At the same time, it’s also a challenge: Due to the wide variety of activities, I often jump back and forth between topics. That can sometimes be a bit exhausting, but the variety is also exciting. I am regularly pushed and have surpassed what I thought I was capable of in the last few years. Mastering new topics and also hurdles is very important for personal development and has great significance for me personally.
What challenges have shaped your career?
The situation at the beginning of my career was, of course, shaped by the fact that I was not initially hired after my apprenticeship as a media designer and had to come up with a “Plan B”. That was a very dramatic event. The internal restructuring at NORMA Group and my promotion to Product Engineer was also a challenge for me at the beginning. I was stepping into some big shoes at the time and the learning curve for my new area of responsibility and the product groups was very steep. But I always believed in myself. I took on increasingly diverse and complex tasks. “There are no problems, there are only challenges,” my team leader at the time used to say. This sentence had a great impact on me. You have to accept challenges before you can master them.
What social changes have occurred over the course of your career?
From a business perspective, a lot has certainly changed at NORMA Group in recent years. For one thing, we went public. The impact of this step has been clearly felt. NORMA Group has also experienced very strong growth in recent years. Along with the growth there have also been stronger interconnections, which has made some things more complex and more difficult. A major challenge is to build up and transfer knowledge globally. In some cases, the company has grown a bit too fast in this respect, because processes have to be able to keep up. On top of that, in special situations – Corona is one example – there is uncertainty, which on the whole leads to smaller challenges every day.
Socially speaking, I have never felt disadvantaged as a woman. My gender, personal manner or appearance have never been made an issue. Although I am a woman in a technical profession, I have only had positive experiences.
What are your hopes for the future?
My biggest wish related to work is to finally be able to see my colleagues in the office again. I miss that very much. In life, a significant part of socializing takes place at the workplace. If this part of socializing suddenly disappears, there is a huge gap.
Outside of work, I miss being able to attend concerts and medieval markets and to pursue my hobbies without any restrictions. To summarize: I just wish for a bit of “normality”.
And do you have any advice for all women?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something! Just try it. Even if you fail, stick with it and either try again or find something more suitable. Never let other people’s chatter or attitudes stop you – listen to yourself and be confident. We can all allow ourselves to be confident!