Careers

Harald Winsel - a fascinating trip into the world of production.

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I followed the call to return to research because it gives me the opportunity to share the network and expertise that I have built up over the decades with others and because I know how production works.

Harald Winsel

Principal Scientist

Having started out in research, Harald spent many years in production. Today, he is back working in research. An expert in process development, he benefits from the experience and expertise he gained during his time in production, allowing him to advance the process development of products used in the plants.

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I have been working at BASF since 2000. Before that, I learned a metalworking profession and completed my “Abi” [German university entrance-level qualification] in a second-chance education program. After seven years of studying chemistry, I started as a laboratory team leader in the synthesis of intermediates. Following five years of research, I really wanted to gain more experience in production and applied for a position as deputy plant manager in the indole factory. I prevailed against seven competitors and got the position. The surrounding conditions were tough, and the working atmosphere was just great. The team and I have achieved a lot together and in 2007 I even received the Business Excellence Award – a prize that will forever remain special for me. A few years later, I moved to a factory that produced specialty amines as a process manager and had the opportunity to really get into distillation, which is usually more of a process engineering topic. After four years, I became a process manager in the hydramine factory and head of the ZwiPro technical center, this time with the transfer of duties. That entailed a lot more responsibility, because now I was also personally liable for the safety of the plant and my people. In October 2018, my current manager finally asked me if I would be interested in returning to research as an expert – I was to contribute my knowledge to the process development of products that come into the companies and provide technical support for the next generation. And now I’m still working with the same people as before, just from the other side of research – and it’s still fun. 

After two or three years I had already worked out what I did not want to do, namely marketing or communication. My first development step was therefore very targeted and took me into a production plant. However, the changes within the production plants were controlled by my manager at the time. It all made sense in retrospect, as I got to know different stages of the processes, on a large and small scale, with expensive fabrics or mass products. I followed the call back to research because I can now share the network and knowledge I have built up over decades with others, know how it works in production and can directly address the right people.

I was ready to get my hands dirty and that’s what you should be if you want to go into production. And you should be able to have confidence in your people, let them try out things for themselves. Because the worst thing you can do is to avoid making decisions because you are afraid of your boss. This requires trust and freedom; you must be able to give that. And you have to love chemistry if you want to take this path. I enjoy chemistry. Even after more than 20 years at BASF, I can still say that.