Anna Rustler is a member of the federal board of the JungChemikerForum (JCF). The organization has around 9,000 student, trainee, and young members. The JCF is part of the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh), the largest chemical society in continental Europe.
Dr. Christian Schaumberg is Head of Science Relations at ALTANA AG. From September 2012 to September 2014, he was a member of the JCF’s federal board.
Ms. Rustler, Dr. Schaumberg, what was your first impression of ALTANA?
ANNA RUSTLER: What I found to be a distinguishing feature of ALTANA was the very personal exchange. Everyone in the company received us amicably and talked openly about their work.
DR. CHRISTIAN SCHAUMBERG: I was also impressed by the personal and individual contact. In addition, I saw ALTANA as a company that is interested in technology and is future-oriented. After almost seven years, I can say that my first impression has been confirmed.
ALTANA supports the JCF’s industry tour, which gives young talents insights into the company’s research and production. How important is this exchange?
ANNA RUSTLER: We benefit a lot from the tour because we get a behind-the-scenes look, so to speak. This enables us to better assess whether the company fits our personal values. As a chemist, I want to make a difference. And in order to advance sustainability, we need chemistry. I was particularly pleased to see how ambitiously ALTANA is pursuing the goal of climate neutrality, and how openly we discussed the potential for improvement.
What can we as a company learn from those conversations?
DR. CHRISTIAN SCHAUMBERG: Many talented people want to come up with sustainable solutions. As a company, we need to do an even better job of communicating that colleagues at ALTANA can do exactly that – day in and day out. After all, people come into contact with ALTANA products almost every day. At the same time, after having many personal conversations with young talents I have seen that they can feel insecure. This is because academics often don’t know what to expect when they make the leap from university research to the company. By giving them insight into what it’s like to work at ALTANA, we reduce entry barriers. Also, young talents become familiar with our corporate culture early on during their training.
ANNA RUSTLER: I agree. On the industry tour, I was surprised by the diversity of the teams at ALTANA.
Does personal exchange help even more than gaining insight into the company?
ANNA RUSTLER: Both are important! For us, exchange with former members is especially valuable because they understand how people work at universities and in companies. From the conversation with Mr. Schaumberg for example I got tips and advice that I hadn’t even asked for. This is because he knows both sides.
What would further improve the quality of the exchange?
DR. CHRISTIAN SCHAUMBERG: We have to network on a long-term basis. To do so, it is crucial to maintain contact with young chemists – even beyond the industry tour. In personal exchanges, we can act as a kind of personal advisor regarding career entry. As a result, people can stay in contact with us throughout their studies.
ANNA RUSTLER: That’s an excellent idea. For one thing, this would enable the companies to share information. In addition, we have the opportunity to ask questions on a personal level. That would further promote the exchange.
DR. CHRISTIAN SCHAUMBERG: Our brief brainstorming session has made it clear that we need personal exchange and commitment. I know from my own experience how time-consuming work at the JCF can be. Thank you very much for your dedication, Ms. Rustler, and that of the entire JCF team!