Felix Gutzeit is a true “Berghof home-grown talent”: Twelve years ago, he wrote his thesis at Berghof and ever since has played a key role in project management for the Berghof Automation and Control Solutions business unit. As a Project manager, he often spends several months of the year travelling all over the world – impressing his customers and colleagues time and again with a combination of specialist knowledge, nerves of steel and a talent for improvisation.
1. The demands on automation are constantly increasing. What are the main conditions you and your colleagues must fulfil for Berghof as project managers?
Our customers come to us as a partner because our solutions are not only particularly resistant to disruptive influences; they are above all extremely flexible. Many of our customers come to us with a similar assignment, mostly from the field of intralogistics – yet each of our systems is individually adapted to suit the respective project right down to the last detail. And it is precisely that which makes our solutions unique that we also need to provide as project managers: extreme flexibility all round.
2. Why is this flexibility so important – and what puts you and your colleagues in a position to be able to fulfil this requirement?
Automation has a long and successful tradition at Berghof. Back in the mid-1970s, we were one of the first providers of freely programmable microprocessor control systems. This means that we have a great deal of experience and expertise within the group, enabling us to plan a system in the best possible way and focus on individual customer requirements. However, we also have to react to previously unknown issues on site. So we not only need strong nerves, but above all a wide knowledge of automation hardware and software solutions and a profound understanding of operational procedures and product specifications in various sectors. After all, we can only stay calm in extreme situations because our expert knowledge, boosted by access to the accumulated expertise of the Berghof Group, provides the ideal basis for our daily work.
3. When you look back over more than ten years spent at Berghof, what has changed the most during your time in this sector?
Customers today are more than ever looking for a partner, which not only understands their area of expertise, but also keeps an eye on the surrounding infrastructure. So, for many of our customers, we are now not just in demand as a partner in the areas of control technology and software, but also for the associated areas of electrical equipment, control systems and data handling. So of course this has expanded our range of tasks enormously. For example, we have an increasing number of projects, for which we upgrade or retrofit existing systems to bring them in line with the latest technological developments – whilst the plant is in operation. This is another reason why, more than ever before, we as project managers must always keep our minds as flexible as possible.
4. People who improvise a lot need a counterbalance to keep them feeling calm. What do you do to recharge your batteries and relax?
I do some sport whenever I can: cycling, diving – but most of all climbing. That’s because when I’m cycling, even on rides with colleagues in the Berghof cycling group, I often think about the projects I’m working on. Whereas when I’m climbing, by the time I get to the second hold, I just focus on the route and completely block out anything to do with my job. So I can clear my head more quickly that way. I also love to travel. I was a real globetrotter even before I joined Berghof. I’m also really happy setting out on my own with just the bare minimum of tent and backpack – which has probably got something to do with the many years I spent with the scouts.
5. Talking of scouts, what did you learn as a scout that you can now use as a project manager at Berghof?
As a scout, you get the chance to take on responsibility at an early age. For example, I got involved as a group leader. And as a child you learn how important it is to be independent and take responsibility for your own actions. That had a strong influence on me and that’s precisely why I enjoy my work at Berghof so much. As a project manager, when you get things rolling after months of intensive work alongside the customer, it's always a great feeling – whether it's at the well-known car manufacturer around the corner or at a quarry in South Korea.