Actually, I never wanted to end up in the environmental field. I grew up on the countryside. As a child I had to clean out the cowshed, weed the turnips, collect potato beetles, mow the grass with a scythe and help out with the butchering. My childhood wasn’t bad, quite the opposite, but in my youth in Lower Lusatia and in the Spreewald, life became dull for me.
DOES THAT MAKE ME HAPPY?
This is a very personal story about successes, failures and endurance.
Actually, I never wanted to end up in the environmental field. I grew up on the countryside. As a child I had to clean out the cowshed, weed the turnips, collect potato beetles, mow the grass with a scythe and help out with the butchering. My childhood wasn’t bad, quite the opposite, but in my youth in Lower Lusatia and in the Spreewald, life became dull for me. I was interested in pop music, motorcycles, cars, street art, design and fashion. I’m an 80’s kid. Even then I wanted to be like the teenagers in the West. The GDR, that was a threat to me. Today, despite everything, I’m glad I got to witness the GDR. Berlin became my home and it was only a stone’s throw away from my parents’ farm. But it was easier to travel to China than to West Berlin at that time and that attracted me like magic.
From automotive mechanic to engineer to entrepreneur
I wanted to do something with music or design; but that was yet to come. It’s thanks to my grandmother that I was able to grow from being a mechanic into an engineer. In the GDR, only very few car mechanics were even allowed to do that. The teaching profession was reserved for a small minority with extremely good grades and I wasn’t one of them. But I explained to my future boss that I could eventually run his shop for him if he would only trust me. He decided to trust me.
Then the revolution came, and that turning point was my lucky strike. A company with forklift trucks moved in. The company was looking for someone with electronic know how. And I had that, I had been a DJ. And so I repaired the first battery powered forklift trucks. I was actually already working in the environmental sector I just didn’t know it.
But all of that wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I started studying automotive engineering. I dragged myself through it, at first with unconvincing marks. But perseverance and persistence helped me get through a lot. During an internship I met Bernhard, who was a real doer. Someone who didn’t waste time philosophising, he was someone who tinkered, experimented and tried things out. Someone who had learned to let ideas fail if they turned out to be too tedious or not very effective. We’re friends to this day, and to this day, I appreciate his advice.
I should develop a table for co drivers, he said. We called the table CarMax. The result was PIN AG, a new competitor to Swiss Post. I was laughed at multiple times. But that’s just part of it. Today, PIN AG is one of Berlin’s largest employers as a postal service provider. What a beautiful time that was; it was when I became an entrepreneur. Every day I learned an infinite amount. And even if it was just a coincidence; our logo? It was green. We wanted to revolutionise logistics, transport mail from A to B on rollers. Fast and cost effective. Efficient. That’s how I got to know that word. The DNA wasn’t green yet.
Happy? Sort of. But not properly yet
My passion for fast cars continued to grow, so I ended up at Porsche in Weissach. I helped develop their first SUV, the Cayenne. Engine development was a dream came true. But green? Nothing was green. What I took with me instead was the knowledge of being able to make the seemingly impossible possible with a strong will. My first boss drove me to fight for the things that were important to me. To this day, I cannot escape my attraction of Porsches. Nevertheless, as an engineer I learned to be but a tiny gear of a complex clockwork. It was an important task, but still, the entrepreneurial fire in me was ignited, and all of this was no longer enough for me. From Lower Lusatia and from the Spreewald I took with me these words: Do what makes you happy. Was I happy? Sort of. But not properly yet.