The Plant Manager

As a brand-new plant manager, Esther Thieme has a lot of responsibility – and that suits her fine.

“All of a sudden I’m a boss, that’s pretty much how it feels. Leadership was part of the trainee program I joined at DMK, it’s still totally different to manage an entire plant. I’ve been plant manager at wheyco in Altentreptow since January 2021. I deal with employee motivation, occupational safety, quality, environment and energy issues, cost management and the value chain.

What makes a good manager? They should be inspiring, motivating and create the right conditions so people can succeed at their work and enjoy it. They should have the courage to get involved, be honest and open – even when things get tough. But above all, it’s about empathy: Something that works for one employee does not necessarily work for another. The learning process probably lasts forever. I don’t know if I’ll be able to manage that, I haven’t been in the job long enough yet. All I know is that these are my goals and that I love a challenge and I’m up for it.

It was only in 2019 that I was asked by DMK if I wanted to get involved in a whey strategy for wheyco. I was project manager at ARLA for three years. That was a good time: I was responsible for optimizing production and then moved to plant engineering. Plant engineering is pretty exciting, it’s a bit like an adventure playground because each day you do a lot of the work yourself and it’s very practical, with overalls and a wrench. You have to work things out with a lot of people, from the technicians to the programmers and the plant engineers – and sometimes in different languages. All that meant the job was really exciting and varied.

Initially at DMK, I was a project manager for the implementation of the whey strategy and then took on more projects with a greater scope. When the opportunity due to the succession plan arose, it made sense for me to take on this post. I have no regrets! You have to get involved and seize opportunities – especially when you’re young. That’s the only way I can get to know lots of interesting people and encounter new ways of thinking.”

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