Alexander Lorani

Nationality: German
City, Country: Munich, Germany
Study program/Degree: Engineering, Production Technology; Diplom-Ingenieur, followed by a doctorate
Year of Graduation: 1990
Employer & Position: Bristol Myers Squibb GmbH, Head of IT

Why did you choose to study at the TUHH and do you now think it was a good decision?
There is a reason for everything in life and in my life I came full circle at the age of 21. I was born in 1964 on what is now the lower campus in what used to be the Harburg General Hospital and commenced my studies at the TUHH in 1985. In contrast to what might today be seen as having been a fully planned career from high school onward, back then I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I applied for university places in Hamburg, Berlin, Brunswick and Hanover – and mechanical engineering at the TUHH. That summer I had to make a decision and for the sake of convenience and because of the fantastic, never-to-be-repeated student-teacher ratio of probably 3 to 1 I opted for the TUHH.

Can you remember the first impression that the TUHH made on you?
Back then the TU was spread all over Harburg and the only buildings that I imagine every student now knows was the Technikum. Everything was still new, the fi rst generation of professors had just gotten the fi rst semesters off to a start, and mine was only the second year’s student intake. Later, the professors were keen to enlist students for study and degree assignment and assistants’ jobs. Small groups were all that there was; the entire fi rst semester intake of around 80 students fi tted easily into Room 018 of the Technikum.

What was your motivation to study your subject and to choose your career?
Math and physics were the only high school subjects – apart from music and sport – in which I had good grades, so it had to be something technical. I may well have been the fi rst child in Germany who was allowed to work at a computer in the mid-1970s, but I would never have considered becoming a computer scientist. Much too much theory; machinery and equipment were more down-to-earth.

Where did you prefer to spend your time in Hamburg/ Harburg alongside your studies?
The car rental company Sixt used to have a brilliant ad for hiring a Porsche with the slogan “Get Out of Fulda!” As a Hamburger by birth that is roughly how I would describe the attraction of Harburg in the 1980s. I would be surprised if it was much better today. Hamburg had many cool live music clubs with Indie bands like “They Might Be Giants” or “Philip Boa and the Voodoo Club“.

What is the greatest thing about your job?
I have been with three employers since leaving university and I can say that I have always been lucky to work for great companies with inspirational colleagues and bosses who encouraged and promoted me.

What do you use in your career that you studied at the TUHH?
My specialization engineering was not much use and the computer technology that was around in my student days cannot be compared with the modern IT approaches of the work that I do now. I learned to think analytically and to solve problems by working with and on computers before taking up my studies. I can only advise every student to study only what you fi nd interesting.

What does your typical working day look like and which competences do you need for it?
I work for a U.S. group and spend most of my time mediating between project initiatives and our German organization. Along with a sound knowledge of IT technologies and management approaches I mainly need to have communicative competence, to be able to mediate on opinions and problem solutions, and to have intercultural competence. My typical working days starts with checking the around 50 emails from all over the world that I have received in the night, holding informal discussions with colleagues about the status of projects in order, usually toward the afternoon, to switch to meetings by telephone and Skype, by video or face-to-face. As a rule my calendar is booked twice or three times over, which allows me the luxury of prioritization and delegating.