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In our NORMAPeople series, employees from around the world talk about their daily work routines, how they joined the company and what they like about their jobs.
Rene Schindler works as a product engineer at NORMA Group's headquarters in Maintal. In this interview, he talks to us about his career, the projects he is involved in and his aspirations for the future.
Rene, when did you start working at NORMA Group and how did you get to your current position?
I started working at NORMA Group in 2010 as an external design engineer and have been a permanent employee since 2013. In September 2014, I began studying mechanical engineering while working, and a year later, a position in engineering became available. I applied for the position and was hired – and I've been working in engineering ever since.
How would you describe a typical day at work? Is there even such a thing as a typical day at work?
There are some appointments that take place regularly over the course of a day – conference calls, for example. I also do a lot of design work on the side, especially for projects relating to electromobility. I collaborate on a number of products in this area.
Since one of the things I do is make drawings for my colleagues in prototyping, they often come to me with questions and issues. Sometimes, I also visit them in the workshop to clarify any existing questions or to work out solutions to problems. You have to react flexibly – there's really no such thing as a typical day at work.
What is the most exciting project you have worked on so far?
One really exciting project was the work on an electric truck in 2016. That was the first big project I was involved in. And I was primarily responsible for project management, so I was given a lot of responsibility. Since that time, I have been involved in a number of major projects related to electromobility. I also support the FaSTDa Racing racing car project at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.
The most important project for me, however, is the eM Twist. I designed the connector using CAD back in 2017 and also had 3D printed parts produced. The project was not ready for the market at that time. A year later, at the end of 2018, a new connector for electric vehicles was needed. This product had to meet a range of requirements because of its intended use. It had to be lighter than other connectors, for example. The eM Twist meets these requirements, so my development turned into an official project. The year after that, we pressed ahead with development of the connector and launched the eM Twist 2020.
What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy the contact with a diverse range of people. I cooperate with colleagues from throughout the world. I have a lot of contacts in places like Sweden, Poland, Serbia and America – you always have a lot of people around you. Other than that, I like the fact that I can try to plan my day, but I always have to be ready for plan A not to work. And when that happens, plan B has to be put in place very quickly. Flexibility is key. As far as I'm concerned, nothing is impossible.
What do you need to feel comfortable in your daily work routine?
It's important to me that we work well together as a team and that the projects move forward smoothly. The best thing is when the customer is happy with our products and that they are satisfied with the way we execute their orders. This also applies to one of our current prototype projects: We offer to install our parts ourselves on site as a service. And if any problems occur on site, we are in a position to solve them right away. That's exciting and a lot of fun. I'm proud of my team and the work we do.
What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies that are linked to your job?
I spend my free time tuning and restoring classic cars. I am part of a racing team myself. The situation there is a lot like the situation at work: We are a small team and when we plan something, it doesn't always work out the way we thought it would. When that happens, we need to put our heads together and figure out how to solve whatever problem we are facing. And we have to do it quickly. We are there to race, after all – not to sit around talking. You could say I have turned my hobby into my career.
What do you wish for the future?
I would like to see people treating each other with respect and appreciating the work of their fellow human beings. I myself am a person who always looks positively into the future and tries to block out the negative. That's how I got to where I am today – because negativity scares away both customers and colleagues. We can only move forward, develop, do good work and achieve positive figures if we are a unit.