Interview with Dr. Gregor Eckerth

“At agiplan, project management means thinking and doing.”

Our consultants manage projects. With true commitment. They give tasks a meaningful structure and set milestones all the way to project completion. Project managers are responsible for overseeing and controlling the big picture. Dr. Gregor Eckerth tells us what is so special about project management at agiplan, and what his tasks as department head involve.

Dr. Eckerth, what exactly do you do at agiplan?
As department head, I'm the link between the management and the project management employees. I oversee the development of issues and personnel in the department and ensure that it is integrated in agiplan's overall spectrum of services. In this role, I lead the department, take care of project staffing, new customers and acquisitions. Of course, I am also the main point of contact for the project manager when things get stuck somewhere. In addition to these management tasks, a large part of my work is focused on my own active involvement, i.e. Managing projects for customers. Both tasks together are comparable with what a player-coach does in football: I develop, train and cheer on my team and am also active on the pitch.

What does project management involve at agiplan?
In line with our mantra "gedacht. getan.", project management means thinking and doing. Our aim is to implement things, such as ensuring that a new factory is designed and built, and the production ramped up. This means planning the project schedule and organisation, and then taking a hands-on approach to implement the project for the customer.

What are the prerequisites for applying for a project manager role at agiplan?
A project manager at agiplan needs to be able to think creatively but still work in a structured manner. I expect a project manager to take an interdisciplinary approach and have enough foresight to notice any problems with the project. On a personal level, they should be able to balance recognition and motivation. In addition to technical and economic knowledge, diplomacy plays a major role in a project manager's daily work.

What do you find especially enjoyable about your work?
The biggest attraction for me is that I'm treading new ground all the time - together with our customers, because even for them our projects often pose an unknown challenge. We are constantly faced with new tasks, different customers and various industries. Each member of staff is therefore constantly learning something new and can evolve. You grow with your tasks, both professionally and personally.

You've been with agiplan for five years now. What was your most exciting project?
A fast-track project in the semiconductor industry. We had to deal with high investment sums for a new production site in the shortest possible time. Everything needed to be organised; the various stakeholders had to be coordinated. After one and a half years, a brand-new factory with 400 staff opened on a previously empty meadow.

What career opportunities does agiplan offer young professionals?
People join agiplan because of the many development opportunities we offer. Our definition of "career" focuses on how successful our projects are and what value is created for our customers. Careers are advanced within our projects: staff members usually start off with supervisory tasks for smaller sub-projects and then assume more and more complex managerial tasks, through to interim management. Our flat hierarchies and our professional and collegial interactions with one another support this development.

What makes your role so special?
On the one hand, it is the aspect of "lifelong learning". Owing to the many new challenges faced all the time, I never stop developing. On the other hand, the human factor certainly stands out. Sound technical expertise is one thing, that is clear, but confidence in dealing with people at different levels of the hierarchy is at least as important. I would even go so far as to say that, at most, 20 percent of my job is based on expertise. The rest has to do with relationships, because project management means working with people after all. And I think that's exciting.

Dr. Gregor Eckerth joined agiplan in 2008. He studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Dortmund and then worked as a consultant and later as a group leader at the Fraunhofer Institute of Material Flow and Logistics. He undertook his part-time doctoral studies with a focus on production, logistics and robotics in Vienna; and he completed a distance learning course in business economics at FernUni Hagen. Most recently, he worked as a senior consultant in a consulting firm, providing advice to energy and utility companies.

Gregor Eckerth
Dr. Gregor Eckerth, Head of Project Management