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Münster (upm/ja)

"International experience is a positive criterion for recruitment."

Interview with Gerd Hartwig, Personnel Director at Claas, a manufacturer of agricultural machinery
Gerd Hartwig<address>© Claas KGaA mbH</address>
Gerd Hartwig
© Claas KGaA mbH

Münster University sees itself not only as being rooted in the local region, but also as having an international orientation – in teaching, in research, among students and among its administrative staff. Using reports, background information, portraits, facts and interviews, we will be showing just how wide-ranging the issue is.

On the basis of discussions with students, we know that they often wonder whether, and to what extent, international experience is an advantage for their later careers. In this series of interviews, personnel managers from various companies located in the Münsterland provide answers to these questions.

Gerd Hartwig gets the ball rolling. Hartwig is the Personnel Director at Claas, a manufacturer of agricultural machinery located in Harsewinkel, near Gütersloh, in eastern Westphalia.

What are the three most important criteria for your company when it selects new staff?

We attach great importance to specialist knowledge, commitment and curiosity. In other words, we look for people who distinguish themselves by actively progressing our company through their specialist knowledge. Commitment is another important criterion. It demonstrates to us that new staff want to develop themselves here, that they want to achieve things and make a contribution. Also, curiosity is something that is relevant in many ways. Firstly, in order to identify quickly with our company and our products, as well as to recognize and understand technical innovations. And secondly because curiosity about foreign countries and cultures is important for international collaboration that is flexible and team-oriented.

When you recruit people, how important for you is international experience, for example in the form of work placements, voluntary work abroad or a semester spent at a foreign university?

International experience is very helpful. We very much like to see evidence of it, in whatever form –work placements abroad, a semester spent at a foreign university, voluntary work, or even holidays spent in distant lands. All these things leave their mark on your personality. Today the world is globalized and transparent, and people are more mobile than ever before. And Claas is a company heavily involved in international business, which means we have dealings with people from all over the world. That’s why international experience is a positive criterion in recruitment.

In what other ways can young graduates score with you?

What we like to see is when students get involved in things in addition to their studies – for example, through voluntary work in a student organization, as a student assistant or as a member of the students council. They can also score with us by being involved in various kinds of voluntary or social work, for example in a sports club. Young people can show that they get involved and take on responsibility, and that during their studies they have learned to work in teams.

What status does internationality have in your company as regards your staff, your business and your corporate culture?

About half of the more than 12,000 employees we have work outside Germany. Our work and our thinking stretch from the USA and Canada to India and China, and our products can be found in almost every country in the world. As a result, there is a very strong international influence on our corporate culture. For anyone who really enjoys working with people from many different countries and who also likes the idea of working in these countries, Claas is just the company for them, a place where they can put this into practice.

Do you think that in future international experience will play an even greater role than today? And how should universities react to this?

We live in a globalized world, our thinking and our lives are international. So we welcome this idea of internationality being put across to students while they are still at university – whether in intercultural seminars, international courses, semesters spent abroad or through international exchanges between partner universities. Universities can promote internationality and they can, and should, create the conditions for young people to gain international experience during their studies. Work placements abroad can be arranged in collaboration with companies. Claas wants to give students the opportunity to gain intercultural and practical experience to complement their studies, which will prepare them for the best possible entry into the global world of work.

Further information