Being a player on the international stage
As Head of Department Kirstin Kettler is responsible for marketing fiberglass in Europe. HELM sources the fiberglass from an exclusive supplier in China. Kirstin performs this balancing act between two continents with ease – all the while picking up something new both at the professional and personal level.
A trade fair in Paris yesterday, a day at her Hamburg office today, and off to Finland tomorrow to do a presentation for a customer – that kind of pace might be a challenge for some, but it is nothing out of the ordinary in the life of Kirstin Kettler, for whom travelling is an integral part of her job. Trained in business administration and specialising in wholesale and foreign trade, she is in an executive position with HELM and responsible for the product group fiberglass/thermoplastics. “Fiberglass is used in combination with plastics,” explains the specialist. “It helps reinforce materials, and products containing glass fibre are used in the automotive industry, among other sectors.”
Since the product can be used in many different applications and needs to be customised to suit individual customer requirements, Kirstin travels a great deal: “I could be introducing our chinese suppliers and their state-of-the-art production facilities to a european customer, for example – even right on site, if circumstances permit.”
Kettler has played an active role in the expansion of this business – from the initial market research via testing of the first samples of fiberglass right through to the signing of contracts. Along the way she has always been able to rely on the support of her colleagues working abroad: “More often than not, the first contact was made via one of our foreign offices,” recalls the Head of Department. “Being able to operate within a worldwide network is definitely helpful.”
At the personal level, Kirstin sees her international work environment as a plus: “I have been able to experience China’s rapid economic development first hand, for example.” It also provides her with plenty of opportunities to learn about specific cultural aspects – from culinary delights right through to how to conduct business. “It certainly helps keeping an open mind,” says the mother of two children.
She takes pleasure in letting her two daughters take part in her activities abroad: “We made a deal,” she recalls with a smile. “Whenever I travel to a foreign country, I have to bring back a small present for them. The result is that we now have muesli bowls adorned with the Eiffel tower at home and T-shirts decorated with Chinese writing.”