Name, First Name: Lorani, Alexander Nationality: German City, Country: Munich, Germany Course of Study/Degree: Mechanical Engineering – Diploma, later PhD Year of Graduation: 1990 Employer, Position: Bristol Myers Squibb GmbH, Head of IT
Why did you choose the TUHH and was it a good thing from today's perspective? All things in life have a reason and in my case the “full circle” came after 21 years. I was born in 1964 on what is now the lower campus in what was then the General Hospital and began my studies in 1985. In contrast to today's appearance of a fully planned career when I graduated high school, back then I had no idea what I wanted to be. So I applied for various study places in Hamburg, Berlin, Braunschweig and Hanover and mechanical engineering at the TUHH. In the summer I had to decide, out of convenience AND because of the fantastic professor-student ratio of probably 1:3, which never returns, I decided on the TUHH.
Can you remember the first impression the TUHH made on you? At that time, the TU was still scattered all over Harburg, the only building that probably every student knows today was the recently completed Technikum. Everything was still very fresh, the first generation of professors had just started the first year of freshmen, mine was the second year. Later in your studies, the professors fought over you for coursework and diploma theses and student assistant jobs. There were only small groups; the entire first semester of around 80 students fit into room 018 of the technical center.
What motivated you to choose this subject and career? Along with sports and music, math and physics were the only subjects that were viable from high school, so it had to be something technical. I was probably the first child in Germany who was allowed to work on a computer in the mid-seventies, but I would never have thought of becoming a computer scientist. Way too theoretical. Machines and devices were more tangible back then.
Where did you like to spend your time in Hamburg/Harburg alongside your studies? There was once this brilliant Sixt rental car advertisement for a Porsche with the title “Get out of Fulda!” As a native of Harburg, I would describe the appeal of Harburg in the 80s in a similar way. I doubt this has gotten any better. Hamburg had many cool live clubs with indie bands for performances by “They Might Be Giants” or “Philip Boa and the Voodo Club”.
What is the best thing about your job? I have had three employers since I was at university and can say that I have always been lucky to work in great companies with inspiring colleagues and supportive bosses.
What do you use from your studies for your career? Technically: Unfortunately, it's not related to mechanical engineering; the computer technology I used during my studies is not comparable to the modern IT approaches of my current job. I had already acquired the ability to think analytically and develop problem solutions before I began my studies by using computers. I can only recommend that everyone during their studies only do what seems interesting to them.
What does a typical working day look like for you and what skills do you need for it? I work in a US corporation and most of my work consists of mediating between project initiatives and German organizations. In addition to a solid knowledge of IT technologies and IT management approaches, I mainly need communication skills, conveying views and problem solving and intercultural competence. The typical working day begins with dealing with around 50 nightly emails from all over the world, informal conversations with colleagues about project statuses, and then, usually around the afternoon, moving on to meetings by telephone and Skype, video or face-to-face. The calendar is usually booked twice or three times, which allows you the luxury of prioritization and delegation.