Dr. Thomas Sawitowski
BYK Additives & Instruments
Head of Business Line Coating Additives
Has been with the company since:
Apr. 1, 2003
What did you do before you joined BYK-Chemie?
After the Abitur (12 or 13-year diploma) in 1984, I started a chemical laboratory assistant apprenticeship at Th. Goldschmidt AG, today part of EVONIK. I subsequently worked until 1996 in the "Central Development" and "Tego Chemie Service GmbH" departments of Goldschmidt AG. At the same time, I was also participating in a chemical engineer continuing education program in the evenings that I successfully completed in 1991.
That same year, I received the job offer to work part-time, and to study Chemistry the rest of the time at the University of Essen. I completed this university education in 1999 with a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry.
In that same year, together with four professors from the areas of cardiology, nuclear medicine and material sciences, I founded a start-up company. I directed this company as the managing partner and was involved with the functionalization of implant surfaces. We worked together with Schering AG and other medical companies in Europe. Then, in April 2003, I became the Product Group Manager Nanotechnology at BYK Chemie GmbH.
For what areas have you been in charge so far?
I worked as the Product Group Manager Nanotechnology until June 2009. I built the product group in collaboration with R&D and the end-users of BYK. We developed about 10 products and also filed applications for several patents for BYK in the area of nanotechnology. In June 2009, the group consisted of five lab employees, a laboratory manager as well as a worldwide team of people responsible in the various regions.
Since July 2009, as the Head of the Coating Additives Business Line, I have been responsible for the worldwide sales of BYK coating additives, coating end-use, and for the training of the laboratory assistants in Wesel.
You have participated in a personnel development program at ALTANA. What kind of content have you been taught and how could you personally benefit from your participation?
One year after I started at ALTANA, I had the opportunity to participate in the Management Development Program (mdp), an international personnel development initiative. The training content was unique and the opportunity to develop an international network of contacts across ALTANA was unparalleled. The modules addressed important topics from the areas of personnel management, project management and also company performance. The application of these topics makes up a significant part of my daily work activities today.
How did ALTANA support your career progression?
During the course of the internal move from product group management into the leadership role for the coating additives business line, I was supported by an external coaching program that lasted approximately one year. That made the transition considerably easier for me. It gave me the opportunity to address and reflect on the required personal changes.
How international were your positions you have held so far?
Both of my positions at BYK, product group management as well as the leadership role of the coating additives business lines, are associated with international work. Today, 30 – 40 % of my total working hours is spent traveling. This is both exhilarating and taxing at the same time; but, in particular, the contact with other cultures, viewpoints and ways of thinking makes this job extremely interesting.