MRL interviews: Andre Gronke
05/10/2018 by Dominic Terry
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We like to get to know our candidates, because at MRL we don't just 'fill jobs' - we place people. So when Lisa Hegemann placed Andre Gronke as the Europe Engineering Manager at A123 Systems in Germany three months ago, we found out we placed someone rather special.
Andre is an automotive expert, with eight years' experience in the embedded systems sector. He is also an avid believer in self-development, and over a year ago he decided to put that passion into his successful blog mentor-ing.de.
Andre places his love for technology down to a Grandfather who was an engineer by trade and playing with Lego as a child. This passion expanded when he got to grips with his family computer - expanding it, configuring it and even networked them. He went on to study Computer Science at Dresden University where he also became a Research Assistant as an IT Administrator.
Within Andre's blog, he covers a whole range of topics. Andre sites: "I will tell you about the experiences of my own life since entering the professional world through numerous seminars, books, coaching, masterminds and the exchange with colleagues, friends and like-minded people..."
Today Andre gives us an insight into the Automotive industry at present and how busy professionals can balance work & life.
"That was not really intended. My affinity for computers brought me to my study of computer science. Unfortunately I didn’t find much resonance in available jobs at that time. So I looked for new fields where I would be able to use my knowledge and work on more interdisciplinary things. Finally I took the decision towards smart grids and started a second study on electrical engineering to get more technical knowledge on that side."
"When it was time to find internships and a company to write my thesis, I applied to energy suppliers (smart grids) as well as the upcoming field of e-mobility. Daimler reacted very fast on my application and I stayed there 8 years with different roles and functions."
"The challenge of complexity, resulting from wide range of customers and their needs, a long product lifetime and the challenges from innovation while maintaining comfort, safety and usability. This applies for the product itself as well as production, customer care and company related experiences."
"I spend at least 1 hour a day in my car and it consumes a significant amount of money, so I have a lot of expectations on that car and small willingness to compromise. I think, a lot of people think the same way: A happy customer might come back, an unhappy customer will most likely not."
"As I worked mainly in the e-mobility field, I can’t really answer this question.
For myself, I already started a long list with expectations on a future car, like personal device connectivity, memorization of driver specific settings (radio, seat, mirrors), comfortable and safe driving experience, head-up display over the complete windscreen, parking-assistance and autonomous functionality for longer trips."
"I expect some huge steps on more intuitive control concepts (touch, hand-free and voice), augmented reality (e.g. for navigation and traffic information) as well as connectivity (car-2-car, car-2-X) and maybe an AppStore. And of course, e-mobility and autonomous driving!"
"I recently started a new job leading, growing and improving an engineering department. On that I can use my technical experience as well as organizational and leadership skills. So right now I’m fine with my career and the goals I’ve set for myself."
"Additionally I’m about to start a systems engineering podcast (technical stuff on how to develop complex systems) where I will share my experience as Certified Systems Engineering Professional and over 8 years of applied knowledge. I’ll cover stuff like how to start with systems engineering in a company, how to train people, how to apply to projects, insights on system specifications and architecture etc."
"And I’ll increase coaching and mentoring activities to help more people with personal development and finding and achieving their life goals."
"The blog helps me pursuing the life I want to live. On one hand I’m much like most other people. Often I spend too much time doing random stuff before realizing how my time is eaten up while I’m not adding to my goals. So the blog is a vehicle that continuously reminds me to stick to my path and pursue progress."
"And on the other, it is my journal and backlog. I put in new ideas from books, seminars, podcasts and also methods how other people succeeded. I document what worked for me or what adjustments I had to make. And I exchange with people who are following the same path or pursuing the same goals."
"Additionally I shared my experience with my family, friends and colleagues and they encouraged me to write something about it, like a book or a blog."
"I create time budgets on a weekly base (168h), pretty much the same way I do for my finances. Including travel, I have like 50-60 hours for work, 35-40h for family, 55h for health and regeneration, 8h for learning, personal development and a buffer for unplanned things. At the end of the week or month I check whether things worked out and if not, what I can do to bring budgets back in line. You can download the template from my blog."
"Starting from these budgets, I get up early and spend one hour for myself (reading, exercising, journaling, blogging, reviewing goals …). Then I use some time to structure my work day and things to be done until end of the week. On my way to work I listen to podcasts or audio books or do some phone calls."
"Every Friday I do a review. I notice achieved results, look for possible improvements on completed and recurring tasks and reschedule/prioritize/reject things that haven’t been finished yet. This makes it easier for me to leave work at work during the weekend – last week is finished, new week is planned, nothing will be left out and now time to relax and spend time with family and friends."
"Do less – by prioritizing, simplifying, standardization, automation or removing. In the book “The one thing” there is one powerful question: What can you do today, that makes everything else easier or unnecessary?"
"This requires that you know what you want to achieve in your life, your job, your relationship … For me it started with Jim Rohn’s quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Until then I’ve never thought about what I wanted to achieve, in fact, I just copied ideas of people around me."
"There will always be enough work to spend 60 or more hours in the office. If all your time is already eaten by daily work and you are working overtime, chances are that you will never start on challenging, improving and evolving."
"If you’re related to management and leadership, I can recommend “Führung auf den Punkt gebracht” by Bernd Geropp, “Leben-Führen” by Olaf Kapinski and “Manager Tools Basics” by Manager Tools."
"For Systems Engineering I started with “Projektmanagement für Macher und Entscheider” by Maik Pfingsten and you can listen to my own Podcast which will launch later this year: The Systems Engineering Podcast."
"On my blog I recommend also books on productivity, goal setting and mastering life issues too. I’m looking forward to see you there."
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