Careers

Andy Wieja - from chemical laboratory assistant to laboratory team leader

RG_Maps_Andy Wieja.jpg
I wanted to become a laboratory team leader from a very early stage and have always worked toward this aim. By contrast, my move into training was completely unplanned – but I learned so much there that is very useful to me today as a manager.

Andy Wieja

Lab Leader

A laboratory team leader who has not been to university? Why not? Andy’s career path shows that – with confidence, dedication and the right attitude – it is possible to achieve career goals. Having undergone an apprenticeship as a chemistry laboratory assistant and additional training as a chemical engineer, he now leads a team of nine.

RG_Maps_Werdegang_Andy_Wieja_EN.jpg

After my training as a chemical laboratory assistant and subsequent further training as a chemical technician, I started to work as a chemical laboratory assistant in crop protection research. After a while, my group leader switched to the training department and called me six months later to ask if I wanted to become a vocational trainer, too. I didn’t really feel like it, I wanted to do chemical research. But my ex-group leader convinced me, he was able to assess my talents better than I could at that time. And so, for many years I hired and trained young colleagues and even had to recommend whose employment was to be terminated; in short, I did everything that comes with personnel responsibility. I also represented BASF at trade fairs and thus gained a strong connection to the company. After eight years, I longed for scientific input again and monitored the vacancies in our internal job portal. There I finally found a laboratory team leader position in crop protection research, which required a chemo-technical background. I had been told several times that no one could become a laboratory team leader without a university degree. This was a motivating challenge and a burden at the same time. I just applied. And I got the job, because the department head saw me as a bridge builder between laboratory personnel and lab team leaders / group leaders. Today I lead a team with nine employees, I am an industrial supervisor for two students who are working on their PhD theses in flow chemistry at Imperial College London and am a cooperation partner for KIT. I have enough freedom and responsibility in my position and at the same time always face new challenges in the technical field. That’s why I am happy with what I am doing and where I have arrived with my career journey.

I wanted to become a laboratory team leader from a very early stage and have always worked toward this aim. By contrast, my move into training was completely unplanned – but I learned so much there that is very useful to me today as a manager. 

Never let yourself be persuaded what you CANNOT do. You must know what you are getting into and have a certain self-confidence to be able to assess yourself well. Having to leave your own comfort zone again and again is not easy and takes quite an effort. Always be honest and fair, as difficult as it is sometimes. Be convinced of yourself and go where you want to go and do everything for it – then you can achieve it.