A Guest Appearance in Germany
It is a common practice for large companies to send their employees to other countries for career purposes. However, the opposite is also true: At tesa, Dr Nela Ren gives international input as an ‘inpat’.
The Chinese city of Suzhou is located about 8,500 kilometres from Norderstedt. What connects the two cities with each other: Both are home to a location of the adhesive specialist tesa – There is a large production plant in eastern China, and the company's headquarters is in northern Germany. Dr Nela Ren knows both places. She worked in Suzhou until mid-2019. Since then she has managed a laboratory for the development of adhesive tapes in the area of rubber technology at the Norderstedt Research Centre. “I’m very happy to have the chance to work here. It allows me to gain new perspectives and additional qualifications,” emphasises Ren.
Dr Nela Ren has worked for tesa since 2006. She has a doctoral degree in chemistry and first started as a process engineer at the plant in Suzhou (China), then switched to research and development, initially as a product developer and later as head of the Application Solution Centre. Since mid-2019, Ren has been working as a laboratory manager in the Research Centre at the tesa headquarters in Norderstedt. In her case, tesa practices the reverse of the widespread model of expatriation (temporary posting of employees from headquarters to another country) – impatriation.
She presented the best qualifications for this three-year engagement. After studying chemistry and receiving a doctorate from the University of Beijing in 2002, Ren started her professional career at the US company General Electrics in Shanghai. She joined tesa in 2006 as a process engineer at the Suzhou plant. Interrupted by a three-year intermezzo at another US company, she returned to tesa in 2016. Nela Ren’s new job at an old workplace: Product developer for adhesive tapes in the electronics sector. In 2018 the researcher was offered the position of Director of the Application Solution Centre (ASC) for the regions Greater China and Asia Pacific – including personnel responsibility for 45 employees. The ASC is a special facility where tesa tests new products together with customers and develops new application technologies.
new adhesive tapes:
When she moved to Germany, her superiors and the HR department fully encouraged and supported her, she says, Chinese and born in Inner Mongolia. “They opened the door for me to get to know work processes and the corporate culture at the headquarters,” says Ren. Of course, the company also benefits from her experience and expertise: As a so-called ‘inpat’, Ren brings an international perspective to the company headquarters, which is a crucial feature in the global age. It’s no coincidence that she was given a special project: To create a concept for Technology and Product Development in the course of an investment project in Asia. “My advantage is that I know employees, structures and processes at the headquarters as well as in Asia,” says Ren.
“I’m very happy to have the chance to work here. It allows me to gain new perspectives and additional qualifications.”
Lab Manager at the tesa Research Centre
Despite all the differences between East and West, she appreciates the common features in the wide tesa world: “We work in a structured, result-oriented and friendly way,” says Ren. For her, it is truly fulfilling to further develop employees and to shape trustworthy, high-performing teams. If there was one career tip she’d share, it would be that it is worth leaving your comfort zone and entering unknown territory. Or, in other words: “Follow your heart, life is short, so make it special.” Nela Ren not only finds her time in Germany enriching for her career, but also a benefit for her private life – her husband and two young children have come to Hamburg. In her free time, she likes to play badminton, cook for her family, and meet friends. Furthermore, she wants to travel around Germany and the rest of Europe – the next destinations will be Barcelona and Prague.
tesa offers not only vertical but also horizontal career paths. Who are the employees that have successfully moved forward on alternative paths? What motivated them? What tips do they have for others? These and other questions will be answered in an article series on tesa.insights. In loose sequence, we’ll portray protagonists from the diverse working world at tesa. General information about tesa as an employer: