When Ralf Will was hired by NNE as freelancer engineer in 1993, he had no idea how he would grow within the company. Today, Ralf is Senior Project Manager and Team Lead of Secondary Manufacturing in Bad Homburg, Germany and he’s ready to tell you all about his professional journey.
More than twenty years ago, Ralf Will was hired by NNE in Bad Homburg fresh-out-of-university. Just after he finished his studies as a chemical engineer with an additional degree in economics, he began as a freelance Junior Project Engineer.
“When I started, I was integrated in some engineering teams and I grew more and more in the previous Pharmaplan organisation,” Ralf says. “Once the company became the NNE it is today, I became a full-time employee and I grew more and more within the organisation.”
When asked what his initial expectations were for his work at NNE, Ralf chuckles and confides that his fresh out of university younger self had no idea what he was in for.
“To be honest, my first expectation was to work for a few months, save money and take a vacation since I began as a freelancer in summer time,” Ralf confesses with a laugh. “But the job was very interesting. The industry is exciting and complex. I had no expectations of how I would grow within the industry but I did end up growing – very much so. There were many chances with regards to project execution and in regards to leadership and personal development. I had no idea I would be, twenty years later, a Project Manager or a Line Manager.”
For Ralf, the complex nature of pharmaceutical engineering makes it so intriguing. He enjoys the intricate regulations paired with the tangible effects of his work. “If I need a certain medicine, I can say that the drug has been produced in a facility familiar to me or one of my colleagues,” he says. “We don’t work with facilities that produce bombs, but rather cure diseases or alieves symptoms.”
After twenty years with NNE, Ralf Will is confident that he chose the right path. His career has led him up the project engineer and project management ladder and over to line management. His ambition has afforded him these opportunities:
“In the later years, I discovered if you are interested in being a valuable part of a project, you can be,” he says with confidence. “If you are ambitious, you will be approached with more and more complex projects – and in this field, the complexity never ceases. The changing nature of pharma engineering requires that you are agile and future-proof all the time and anticipate a new customer with different organisation and desires. Even if I have the same labour contract, I always have a new boss and this is my customer. I enjoy this kind of work, which is never exactly the same.”
How to succeed in project management according to Ralf Will:
- Have the obvious technical requirements and constantly sharpen them
- Share your skills and knowledge with colleagues utilising various NNE knowledge-sharing platforms
- Improve your skills by asking questions and posing discussions on said platforms
- Beyond technical skills, enhance your soft skills, such as communication to understand your customer and teambuilding to strengthen your team