First an Expert, then a Leader

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An expert or a leadership career path? A difficult question before the start of the career as an engineer – one would think. However, at least at Roche, changing career paths is no problem. Andreas Hüser, for example, developed from an expert to a leader. And that was not due to salary reasons.

Dr. Andreas Hüser is the Head of Technical Informatics at Roche Diagnostics in Mannheim. After his studies in electrical engineering with specializations in hardware design and information technology in Karlsruhe, he joined the company in 1992.

Dr. Hüser, you have been working at Roche for more than 23 years. I assume you have not always been a leader?

No, I started in 1992 with direct entry into an expert function. My first task was the software control of the pallet conveyor technology in our logistics center. In the following years, I supported many additional, very innovative development tasks – for example, the control of the test strip production machines. As an expert, I had enough variety in any case.

Nevertheless, you changed your career path from that of an expert to that of a leader …

Right. In 2004, I took over the department Automation Systems and have been leading Technical Informatics since 2005. My motivation for this was the extensive decision-making ability I received as a leader. For me as a Department Head, my focus is always on future-oriented innovative technologies. Together with my employees, we develop them to market maturity and implement them within new projects. It is probably the greatest advantage at Roche that we always work at the forefront of innovations.

Which topics are those currently?

The Internet of things, for example – that is much more than just a trendy topic for us. Therefore, the production facilities for the production of test strips or blood glucose device already operate completely paperless. Specifically, a workpiece automatically selects the station where it has to be processed next. And I can see every production step at any site “from afar”.

Does that mean that you are responsible for multiple sites?

For the control of the production facilities, yes. In Technical Informatics, we develop and support the systems for the automation of machines worldwide, for example in the USA or in Switzerland. We are responsible for the concept and implementation, but also for the technical support. And we have, as I mentioned, insight into all the systems out of Mannheim – which means that we can provide support to colleagues abroad without boarding an airplane.

Be perfectly honest: The better salary expectations as a leader must also have been an issue for your career path change?

Not at all. It is important to know that the career paths are not decisive at Roche, but rather is the content of the tasks. Therefore, functions in the different career paths can still be equally well-paid. Thus, the salary is no reason to change. There are even leaders who change to the expert career path after ten years, because they are interested in gaining in-depth knowledge and experience in challenging topics.

If, however, I would like to start directly on the leadership career path as an engineer – is that also possible at Roche?

That is also possible. In the Management Start-Up Program, you spend two years working at a number of departments to develop as a leader. Of course, people with professional experience can also directly start working in leadership positions. At first, I decided on the expert career path because I wanted to apply my knowledge from my studies in practice. As my example shows, the different career paths are very interchangeable.

© Roche with e-fellows.net, February 2016

Tags: Career Blog, Germany