From Würzburg into the world06/30/2017
Kathrin Krause-Harder studied political science at the University of Würzburg. She worked as an office manager in the Southeast Asia studio of public-service television broadcaster ZDF. Today she lives in Singapore and works as a freelance business coach.
Which jobs do graduates from the University of Würzburg work in? To present different perspectives to students, Michaela Thiel, the director of the central alumni network, has interviewed selected alumni. This time, it is Kathrin Krause-Harder's turn. After graduating from the University of Würzburg, Kathrin Krause-Harder spent several years working in the editorial and production department of a weekly TV news magazine.
Ms Krause-Harder, it seems that going abroad has had a strong appeal to you from a certain moment on. Why is that? Well, I don't t think there was any one defining moment. As the daughter of an American mother and a German father with a love for travelling, my sister and I were born with an international perspective. Right after finishing school, I went to Italy for a year first before starting to study political science in Würzburg. When the opportunity to go abroad presented itself again after a few years, we assumed that my husband's employment in the US would be limited to two years. We hadn't planned at the time that this would lead to 15 years of living and working on three different continents.
What was your career abroad like? In 2002, we moved to the US and afterwards to the UK. Since 2008, we have being living in Singapore where I worked as the office manager of the Southeast Asia studio of TV broadcaster ZDF until recently. After undergoing further training to become a Bachelor Professional of Human Resources Management and International Certified Business Coach, I have been working as a freelance business coach since 2016, developing and designing intercultural training and leadership programmes. Also, I do voluntary work to further train "foreign domestic workers" in Singapore.
Do you feel like you have reached your final destination now in Singapore? Looking back on my life, it is absolutely impossible for me to define a so-called geographical end point. But I think that's exciting and enriching. Singapore has been our adopted home for nine years and at present I see no reason to change this.
What do you like most about the city? In particular, I appreciate the internationality of the city, the different cultural influences, the geographical location at the heart of many exciting, exotic and also less developed Southeast Asian countries, the tropical climate and the job opportunities this city state offers.
Did you learn Mandarin? No, I didn't learn Mandarin. At the beginning of my time in Singapore, I thought briefly about learning Malay which is the fourth official language besides English, Tamil and Mandarin. But I discarded the idea pretty quickly for lack of necessity. Foreigners consider Singapore to be very convenient and for a good reason: English serves as a connecting element between the different ethnic groups, to name only one example.
Please tell us a little more about your job as an office manager with TV broadcaster ZDF in Southeast Asia. What makes the ZDF studio in Singapore special is the fact that it is a so-called "travel studio". The studio's area of coverage ranges from India to Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zeeland. Accordingly, the local team are out and about a lot. For the office manager this means above all to maintain good relationships to the embassies of the corresponding countries to make sure that journalist visas are issued that allow them to enter the respective countries. Additionally, the office manager is responsible for the logistical preparation of filming trips. In countries like Pakistan, Nepal or Myanmar, this can turn out to be a rather challenging task outside the urban agglomerations. Ultimately, the office manager is also responsible for all studio affairs in terms of human resources, finances and administration. Generally, however, the work is determined by the current news situation as for all other employees of the studio. Assignments in disaster areas and crisis regions dominate the daily business.
Why did you choose to purse a different career path with learning & development? In retrospect, this was probably a logical consequence. Already during my first job experiences as a pupil and student, I was fascinated by how managers and employees interact as well as employees among themselves. And this has been the central theme of my career until present. The question of how you can lead a team as a superior, how to develop and motivate employees and how to promote team work has always accompanied me besides my actual professional tasks. Today, I am glad to have taken this step formally, too. These questions feature prominently both in my work as a business coach and in the domain of intercultural training. Often, it is about developing an awareness and openness for that which is "different" and to change one's perspective. Life and work experiences are immensely beneficial in this context.
What would you recommend to other graduates who would like to work abroad? Do it! In fact, that is all the advice I can give on this subject. Getting to know new cultures and the working environments of other countries is and will always be an invaluable experience.
What are your best memories of your time as a student? Well actually, I can't remember one single event specifically. I had great pleasure studying; I found Würzburg to be the perfect city for students and I have never regretted studying politics and this despite the fact that our lecturer predicted that we would end up as taxi drivers during our first lecture. Moreover, I met my husband while studying in Würzburg and most of our closest friends in Germany go back to the Würzburg time.
Thank you for the interview.