Desperately seeking: Colleague Number 15,000

Forgotten your own wedding anniversary? Or a close friend’s round-number birthday? Embarrassing, but when times are a bit hectic these things may happen. I know what I’m talking about, because at Krones Corporate Communications we were guilty of a similar faux pas: we failed to notice the arrival of the 15,000th. Not only his arrival, actually, but the fact that he existed at all.

We discovered our oversight when new personnel statistics came out, and revealed we had 15,174 staff on the payroll. As the realisation dawned, a medium-sized panic ensued: quick, quick, we have to run a report on this! We need a photo of him (or her). And first of all we have to locate Colleague No. 15,000.

So I swiftly pick up the phone and call the Human Resources Department. The nice lady who answers is keen to help me, but immediately draws my attention to a problem I had never even considered: there are usually several new hirings simultaneously at Krones on the first of each month – so which of them is then the 15,000th? Hmm, good question …

When she calls me back a bit later, the news is reassuringly good: the number of candidates involved can at least be restricted to two. “No problem,” I say, “we’ll simply take both of them.” However, there’s another complication: one of the two, Noshalan Pillay, works in Johannesburg – which is rather a long way away. So off to South Africa?

Flying there myself is not (unfortunately) an option. This means I have to locate someone in South Africa who will interview and photograph Noshalan Pillay. So how am I going to do that? For want of a better plan, I pick a name at random out of the Krones telephone directory: Sales Assistant Karen Banks.

I brace myself mentally for a bureaucratic marathon. Because it’s bound to take quite a lot of time before I’ve phoned my way through to someone who is able and willing to help me – or so I think. But in actual fact what happens is something I’ve often experienced at Krones and in secret call the “miracle of communicative short-cuts”. As is only meet and fitting for a miracle, it’s never possible to predict precisely when and where it’s going to materialise; but when you need it really urgently, it rarely lets you down. That was the case here.

Karen Banks is a bit surprised at my request, and had never heard of her new colleague. Unsurprisingly: there are around 150 people working at the South Africa Center, so you don’t automatically get to know every new hiring immediately. But she promises to ask around. And lo and behold: shortly afterwards two South African HR colleagues get in touch with me: Simone Osborne and Nomalanga Ncube are not only incredibly nice and helpful; they even shot a professional portrait of Noshalan Pillay and also penned a warm-hearted text for it. Perfect, I couldn’t have asked for more!

Bouquet from the board

So the first half of my task was done and dusted astonishingly quickly. Now all I need is Candidate No. 2: her name is Aurelie Börmann and she works in Neutraubling – a convenient 500 metres away from me. But before I can start rejoicing, the next difficulty is already emerging. “If she’s working here at head office, then we should really do a photo with Christoph Klenk,” opine my colleagues.

Sure, what could be easier? Board chairmen are, of course, well-known for having plenty of time on their hands, and thus like nothing better than dropping in spontaneously on a photo-shoot. So what we need is once again one of my Krones miracles.

This time it is manifested in the shape of Christina Resch. As Assistant to the Executive Board Chairman, she has her boss’s appointments diary at her fingertips, and knows precisely where there are still a few gaps. What makes the scheduling a bit trickier is that Aurelie Börmann in her first weeks at Krones is attending several training courses for familiarisation. But after some telephoning back and forth, a shared time window is found: we’ll meet up three days later at 7:30 in the morning.

On the agreed date, my photographer colleague and I set off well in advance for the reception hall. Hopefully nothing will go wrong: no one can risk getting caught in a traffic jam or missing the bus: the Chairman has only 15 minutes before his next appointment awaits. But before I even start to worry, a visibly cheerful Aurelie Börmann is approaching us. Her beaming smile moves up a gear when a few minutes later our Board Chairman strolls in – holding an enormous bouquet, which he presents to Aurelie as a welcome-to-the-firm present. Now that’s what I call a perfect start to the day!

A more felicitous end to my little quest can hardly be imagined: a few days ago, I began my confused and confusing search for the firm’s 15,000th. In the end I found two of them, thanks to lots of helpful colleagues, who once again impressively demonstrated: to the outside world we may perhaps be a large corporation – but inside we’re still a family, in which we help each other out as a matter of course.

Et voilá, here are the two 15,000th members of this family:

31-year-old Noshalan Pillay graduated at Durban Technikon University, before finishing his apprenticeship at Toyota Motors. He has quite a bit of sectoral experience on his CV: he had already spent five years with South African Breweries (SAB), for example: first as a service technician, then later as a maintenance planner. At Krones South Africa, he will now be contributing his abundant expertise as a Project Manager. With a proven track record of getting things done, he’s looking forward to tackling his remit in the Krones management team and upping the levels of customer satisfaction still further.

Aurelie Börmann, born in Wiesbaden, studied chemical engineering at Munich University of Applied Sciences, and gained additional experience in internships at Haribo and Airbus. After being awarded her masters degree, she spent a year in far-off Montreal, where she worked as a research assistant at the prestigious McGill University. Back in Germany, she applied for a job at Krones – successfully: since 1 October, she’s been assisting the Packaging Development and Consulting Team in the Plastics Technology Division with her expertise in materials and chemical processes.

Noshalan and Aurelie, welcome to the firm! We’re delighted to have you on board and wish you every success at Krones!