“A lone player doesn’t score a goal”
Rainer Popiol is not only Head of the BILSTEIN Academy but also a long-standing figure at thyssenkrupp even though he doesn’t see it like this. Popiol, a proud Gelsenkirchen resident, values teamwork and the company’s diversity which he places special emphasis on in his work. He makes sure that no-one is left behind – both worldwide with the extensive range of courses offered by the BILSTEIN Academy as well as in his team.
What are you changing at thyssenkrupp Bilstein?
I am bringing about a change in technology i.e. I am changing technology that people can understand. In the training department I ensure that everything is prepared according to the exact requirements so that everyone involved – regardless of whether they’re working on the machine or in the engineering department – can work with our training offers. On the one hand, we offer internal and external training courses on subjects such as shock absorbers and chassis but also customer advice. On the other hand, we also offer technical support for our BILSTEIN technologies. Our customers can therefore contact us and ask questions on our products.
What do you associate with thyssenkrupp?
Real diversity – on the one hand, with view to the products – from the smallest nano part to a huge ship and, on the other hand, also the diversity of the people at thyssenkrupp as the company operates worldwide. Where else do you have so many opportunities to come into contact with many people from the whole world? This is something that is really important to me and is why I like to make sure that we stick together as a team and don’t leave anyone behind. This applies to my team as well as for the whole of thyssenkrupp. We are, after all, a worldwide name and it’s important to me that people like working with us, also in the future.
What has changed in the time that you have been at thyssenkrupp Bilstein?
When I started at BILSTEIN, in 2001, we were still working with overhead projectors in seminars. Then at some point we started using projectors. Communication was via telephone and e-mails. Today, we work with Microsoft Teams and offer a range of virtual courses including virtual live training, 24/7 e-training and training videos on our platform which are not time limited. In other words, we are today much more flexible in our training although we had and continue to have to overcome challenges along the way.
What challenges did you have to overcome?
We realised that in virtual training, in particular, instructors are extremely challenged as you don’t have the personal communication with the participants, and this makes the exchange more challenging. In in-person training, you can respond to participants’ signals and receive direct feedback. You don’t get this type of interaction in virtual training. However, the digitalisation of our training offers also has its good side.
You see how small the world has really become and the new communication forms enable many more ways for exchange. It is, for example, possible to speak to customers in Brazil or Singapore – regardless of where in the world you are. We also receive very positive feedback on our e-training and thanks to our fast conversion to digital training offers during the pandemic we were able to secure a leading market position which is something I’m very proud of.
What is particularly important to you in your work?
That we see ourselves as team players. We do not stand on our own as an academy but work for all the other departments. We want to be a wheel in the machine of thyssenkrupp Bilstein so to speak. Through this we support several areas but also have a good network that supports and gives us feedback.
I have a very good team which I can really rely on – both in the company and personally. Each individual should feel at ease and be there for the others. And, if I should not be there, the work continues just as well. It’s like in football – a lone player doesn’t score a goal, only the team together does.
My personal goal is to change something for following generations and leave a good impression. And this not only through training which they might later click on and see my face. I would like future young colleagues to perhaps one day say, “That Mr Popiol was a good guy. He helped others, listened to anyone’s problems and was always there for his team.” That is particularly important to me.