Meet Andreas Wohlrath, a Leader of Heart and Mind
Andreas Wohlrath studied communications engineering with a focus on electronics/digital signal processing at the University of Applied Sciences in Mannheim. After starting his career as a communications engineer, he took on a position as a program manager in the energy sector. From 2014 he worked for Roche as a project manager for the software development of the Accu-Chek Solo micropump before taking over a position as a group manager for insulin pumps in 2017.
How long have you been in your leadership role at Roche Diabetes Care GmbH?
Following my previous position as a program manager in energy management, I joined Roche Diabetes Care GmbH in 2014. I started as a project manager in the "Solo M" project for software development with a team of around 40 internal and external people. Then in 2017 I took over group management of insulin pumps at the Mannheim site.
You have been a manager since 2017. Have you always wanted to lead people?
After my studies I was not yet completely clear about it. When I got the chance, I made the most of it. I draw a lot of know-how from my experience in project management. What particularly appeals to me about the leadership role is the aspect of motivation. For me, employee development means supporting my employees in building up the best possible skill set in order to work successfully in the matrix and implement tasks with heart and ambition.
What is your current role as an executive like?
A typical day? It's a balancing act between project work and strategy development. Meetings on resource requirements, processes or tools are just as much a part of my everyday business as the global and regional exchange with my employees in Indianapolis and Mannheim. I also regularly run into my team in the corridor, where we can clarify and discuss many things.
One challenge that makes my work so fascinating at the same time is the fact that not all employees sit together in one place, but work on a joint project at different sites. It's important that we, as a multi-cultural team, exchange ideas virtually in the best possible way.
What is particularly important to you in personnel management?
It is particularly important for me to be honest with my employees and to discuss everything openly. Personnel development is a big issue for me: I have a genuine interest in my employees and would like to understand in which direction they would like to develop. I manage this by listening. It's the best way for me to find out what drives my colleagues. In this way, I can not only sound out potential development opportunities, but also promote their personal development and professional competence in equal measure.
From your point of view, what makes a good leader?
In addition to authenticity and accessibility, I find it important to accompany employees in setting realistic goals. I see supporting them in this and promoting their strengths as a crucial part of my work. A good manager should also understand how individual colleagues work together in a team, what their expectations are and what happens on the interpersonal level. On this basis, responsibility in the team can best be shared.
What do you find particularly easy or difficult in leadership work?
Open and regular discussions with my team are an integral part of my work because I consider them to be elementary for good communication. It is always more difficult when expectations are not expressed directly or when certain goals are not achieved for various reasons. The challenge here is to respond to the individual feelings of the employee and to motivate the colleague anew through individual feedback in a face-to-face interview.
Are there any special moments that you remember during your career at Roche Diabetes Care GmbH (RDCG)?
Above all, I remember the time when the software development of a micropump was brought to Mannheim. As a pilot team with one of the first agile projects in the RDCG, we managed to grow quickly from three to 20 internal and external employees. The whole thing had a startup character and, as a team, we were able to show how well software development can run when the necessary support is there.
How do you work on your leadership skills?
In addition to my participation in leadership programs, I maintain close contact with my superiors and colleagues. Feedback interviews with my employees also enable me to work continuously on my own leadership skills.