The mood is casual. He leans back in his office chair as far as the backrest will go. Laid back. And who’s sitting in the office chair? Christian Fischer, head of the OHB training department. He took over the department at the beginning of the year and likes to work in a “busy” atmosphere, pragmatically and with humor. His mission is to address the shortage of skilled workers and to provide OHB with highly trained employees. Prior to this, he worked as a requirements engineer at OHB for eight years, including seven as a team leader. Why he decided to switch to human resources and organizational development, what the boy scout has in common with his job as training manager and why “What’s What?” books can pave the way to a career in space - Christan Fischer explains all this and more in the latest part of our We.OHB series.
At the beginning of the year, you moved to the training center to take on the position of head of training. How did this step come about?
Christian Fischer: I came into contact with Ulrich Uffelmann through a project we were both involved in. He had built up the training department here at OHB and headed it for many years. Ulrich was impressed by how easy I am able to deal with people. He told me that he would soon be retiring and encouraged me to apply for the position of head of training. I was very taken by the idea, especially since I had worked as a boy scout in youth work for many years and had already shown that with my sense of humor I was able to build up a particular bond with young people. At the same time, I have no trouble telling them when the fun is over. I prefer a cooperative leadership style without people breathing down my neck. I find it personally enriching to be able to accompany the students on a part of their road into the future and at the same time to be able to secure young talent. That’s the beauty of this job: at the end of the day, I can see exactly what I (we) have created.
What makes working with young people so special?
It’s simply a pleasure to see how much we have in common. 3D printing, Smart Home and other cool things – these are what the students are interested in and also happen to be my hobbies. In addition, we share an enthusiasm for new technologies and space travel. We have a lot of in common and this has a bonding effect. Together with my colleagues Hartmut Claus and Erik Dehnhardt, with whom I’m organizing the training department; we’re also a bit like a replacement family for the students. We take this responsibility very seriously.
Will the department change under Christian Fischer?
I will initially be taking the baton from Ulrich and continuing my predecessor’s outstanding work. We will be networking with the other training facilities at OHB Digital Connect GmbH and Information Technology Services GmbH here in Bremen and are planning joint activities. In addition, I would like to establish contacts with the other Group subsidiaries beyond Bremen so that we can learn from each other. As well as this, we would like to develop and strengthen partnerships with schools and universities in order to address the shortage of skilled workers, a problem that also affects space travel. Like everywhere else at OHB, we want to continue moving towards digitization.
What does this specifically mean?
For example, we are creating timetable software. to help make students’ lives easier. The dual study at OHB combines university studies and modules at OHB, so there are quite a few dates that need to be synchronized. Our software is intended to help with this. Various other modules could also be integrated, such as a book management system. Who knows? Maybe we can even market this idea. We also plan to make the OHB modules taught to students accessible to OHB employees.
That sounds highly interesting! But tell me about yourself. What led you to space travel?
I’m a career changer. I actually studied “dirty” mechanical engineering and then ended up in the automotive industry. At a Ford subsidiary, I initially supervised air conditioning systems. As I wanted to continue developing my career, I move to a major aviation company in Bremen after other stations in the automotive industry. But I always had the feeling of being nothing more than a small cog in a gigantic machine. So, when an interesting position was advertised at OHB in 2014, I decided to apply. I immediately felt a special spirit here. Manfred Fuchs, the husband of our founder Christa Fuchs, was passionate about space travel. You could literally feel this passion in the air. I felt very comfortable here from the outset and still do (laughs).
No matter how great a job is, there’s always more to life than just work. So what does Christian Fischer do in his spare time?
I love screwing things together. I own a 22-year old VW Bulli, which I modify time and time again. Then there are my Smart Home projects at home, and I also like to work in the garden. Oh, and I also build pallet furniture. Whether it’s a TV rack or the lounge furniture for the terrace – everything is handmade. Other than that, I’m very busy with our patchwork family: household, learning vocabulary with the children, cooking something quickly, shopping, repairing my bike, etc. You know (laughs).
Imagine sitting on your terrace on a warm summer evening and thinking about the ultimate tip for those who want to work in space travel. What would this be?
Read lots of “What’s What?” books (laughs). That’s what I did. There are many books about space travel, planets – and dinosaurs. But seriously, an interest in technology and space travel is obviously particularly important. You must be passionate about this topic and never lose your interest in it. New fields of technology are constantly emerging. Space travel is at the spearhead of what is technically possible.