HSEQ Corporate Manager
At R&M since
HSEQ system, audits, trainings, instructions
R&M Germany, Hamburg
Thomas, where were you before your time at the R&M Group?
That was over 25 years ago ... I graduated from high school, then joined the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) and studied shipbuilding and marine technology at the university in Bremen. When I finished my studies, I joined R&M in 1992 as a trainee.
How did you find out about the R&M Group back then?
Once a year, in November, students and former students meet for the so-called "shipbuilding meeting" at the university in Bremen. At this meeting I came into contact with an R&M employee. That was shortly before the end of my studies. This was followed by joining R&M as a trainee (2 years). During the program I got to know different locations of the company, among them Bremerhaven, Hamburg and Kiel. In 1994 I became a project manager, then a department manager in the shipbuilding area in Bremen. When the branch was closed, I changed to the location in Hamburg in 2011 and took over the HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment, Quality) area.
Why should it be the maritime industry?
It was clear related to my studies. The shipyard business was in crisis at the time and suppliers were just as exciting.
Describe your tasks as an HSEQ manager. What skills do you definitely have to have as a QM manager?
The QM system at R&M Germany have already existed when I took over the position. The introduction in all other countries was then prepared and carried out by me. It was an exciting time because you can't easily transfer German standards to other countries. Today I am responsible for maintaining the entire HSEQ system. I conduct internal audits, training and instruction at all locations worldwide, and accompany external audits, e.g. Certification audits, introduce new processes and approve them, always with regard to the quality management system ISO 9001.
I think for this position you have to have the necessary passion for regulations, ordinances, norms and regulations. You are constantly dealing with it, a lot is not directly tangible and can be quite dry in theory. It is also important that you understand the processes, so that you have sufficient expertise in the field of shipbuilding.
What is particularly important to you in your work?
Personal communication with people and always on eye level. I like when you are in direct contact with your colleagues, not just by email or phone.
What are your biggest challenges? What do you like best about your position?
Reconciling all appointments and coordinating them. The best thing is the flexibility, the free planning of my resources and above all the great colleagues.
Tell us about your most exciting project…
The very first yacht around 60m long, which is now considered as "small", which R&M had commissioned and also the frigate program F123 / 124 - both incredibly interesting projects. Everything is exciting for me in the HSEQ area. The implementation of the QM systems in the USA, China, Norway and Finland e.g. and above all the mentality of the people. Working with foreign colleagues is a very special challenge, especially because there are completely different orders of magnitude and mentalities. Although one might think that the introduction should be almost identical compared to Germany.
What do you particularly value about your colleagues?
The lived openness and the professional cooperation, the good contacts and especially the friendly way of dealing with each other.
You are one of the “old hands” of the R&M Group. Why did you stay?
Because the projects are so varied, always different, new and challenging. No ship was and is like the other – that´s why I stayed.
What fascinates you about the maritime industry?
The modernity in combination with a solid industry. It's just a really big passion of mine.
Have you ever been on a cruise ship?
No, but on several test drives of yachts. There are too many people accommodated on the big cruise ships, that's not my type of vacation. But it is fascinating to see what is possible in the area of cruise ship and yacht building and how this is implemented. Back then, e.g. a submarine, a garage for cars or a lowerable swimming pool in yacht building or tunnel slides and climbing walls in cruise ship construction were a real highlight. Nowadays there is almost nothing that does not exist.