Dr.-Ing Ute Fleck

Nationality: German
City, Country: Zurich, Switzerland
Study program/Degree: Process engineering/Dr.-Ing.
Year of graduation: 1996 (PhD in 2000)
Employer and position: Hitachi Zosen Inova AG,
Senior Sales Manager for key-ready waste incinerators in the UK, Ireland & Australia

Why did you choose the TUHH at the time and was it, in retrospect, a good decision?

It was sheer coincidence. A fellow-student had looked into the process engineering program and it appealed to me because it continued to involve all of the scientific subjects. At times I found study program exhausting, but today I am more than glad that I made the choice that I did – and as a Hamburg person you are happy to stay in Hamburg.

Do you recall the first impression that the TUHH made on you?

The buildings were still in part very much a makeshift affair, but the subject matter that was taught was nevertheless very demanding, my fellow-students were interesting and it was a whole new world after school. At the same time, however, there was an incredible amount of theory and the constant question “What on Earth can I really make of it all in the future?”

What was your motivation for choosing this subject and this career?

Engineers were very much in demand, I have always been interested in science, and I wanted to find a job after completing my studies. If I had known back then what a wide range of jobs you can do with my qualification I would have opted for it in any case.

How, in a nutshell, would you describe your time at the TUHH?

Hard work, at times disillusioning, and at the same time the way to an entirely different and exciting world.

What is your advice on getting off to a good career start in your industry?

Listen to your heart, persevere with your first job even if it isn’t what you may have dreamed about, and then apply for the next job with more knowledge and understanding, including knowledge about yourself. Expect more from yourself than from others.

What do you use from your studies in your job?

Directly, probably nothing. But if I had not studied what I did I would never have been able to work my way into such complex technical issues as fast as I am now able to do. I have changed the area in which I work three times and always been quick to get my bearings. A word of advice that my professor, Prof. Dr. Brunner, gave me has always seemed to me to be very important. At the very least, he said, you must always be able to check quickly whether a result appears to be plausible or not. This gift of being able to judge complex correlations has always been very important for me – both in finding technical solutions and in commercial discussions.

What does your typical working day look like and which competences does it require?

For me there is no such thing as a typical working day. There is a rough plan, of course, but business trips usually become necessary at short notice and in the course of the day something always happens, be it in-house or external, that requires a swift reaction.
You typically need always to reset your priorities, keep an overview, motivate the team, be a good listener and, of course, a good salesman. My area of responsibility includes market development, preparing quotations, checking cost estimates, negotiating contracts, negotiating exclusivity agreements, making speeches at conferences, trade fair and customer event organization, finding partner companies, managing the different offer teams, building political networks, and being responsible for costs. I am lucky. My boss has a great deal of confidence in me and I can for the most part plan, organize and carry out all of this by myself.

If you were the President of the TUHH…

…I would sell the TUHH as the best university of technology there is.