Jun 12, 2023
An incredibly good start to professional life
Going abroad early, taking on responsibility early: That caught Maria's attention. That's why the chemist with a doctorate in chemistry opted for a unique career start right after graduation: the International Production and Technology Program, or IPAT for short. The program prepares young, well-educated scientists for three years so that they can take on management tasks or expert roles in production and technology in plants and facilities. It is aimed at graduates from the fields of chemistry and engineering who want to take charge of their future - people like Maria. After completing her doctorate in polymer reaction engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt, she was clear: "I wanted to work in the chemical industry." So in October 2021 she started the IPAT program. As assistant plant manager in Wesseling, she now shoulders challenging tasks, like process optimization projects, working on the safety reports, for example, or preparing inspections by authorities. "From a technical point of view, the most interesting thing for me was certainly my own process optimization project." She is looking forward to another challenge with great excitement: she will spend one and a half year in Osceola in the American state of Arkansas. "It's great how much Röhm supports us during our stay abroad. Visa process, dealing with the authorities, looking for accommodation: we are supported at every step of the way
Intensive support is a feature of the program. Benjamin, now deputy plant manager in Wesseling, has also had this experience. He completed the program starting in fall 2016. His impression: "It was a good mix: we were given a lot of responsibility, a lot of freedom - and at the same time there was always someone we could turn to." Those who go through the program receive a mentor, for example. In addition, there are regular meetings at which management is also present. Whether questions about the company or the next career steps: there was always a sympathetic ear. "It was a jump in at the deep end - but never without support." These meetings between newcomers and superiors were beneficial for both sides, as Benjamin recounts: "This exchange across several hierarchy levels is fruitful for everyone involved." For Benjamin, the stay abroad was also quite crucial. He went to New Orleans - with his wife and then one-year-old daughter. "The program is just not only for young professionals who are still independent. It was great that I could go to the U.S. with my family." He studied business chemistry in Düsseldorf and earned his doctorate in polymer chemistry in Hasselt, Belgium: Benjamin brought broad expertise with him. But he doesn't want to miss the assessments of colleagues who have been in the business for 30 years: "There are things you can't learn from books."
The program has been around for almost a decade. Almost every year, three to five new participants start at the production sites in Germany. In the meantime, the program has also become more international - with one member each in the USA and China. In other words, "The IPAT family is growing," says Markus, who became part of the IPAT family in 2017. He appreciates this network: He is still in very good contact with all three people he joined with back then. "The connection between us is still strong. After all, we had the same experiences at the same time." They call each other when questions arise. Not all of them always have the answer. But almost always the phone number of someone who knows more. "We are in regular exchange," says Markus. For him, this exchange is at least as instructive and important to him as the trainings he has completed within the IPAT Program, he says. A native of Austria, Markus studied process engineering at the Technical University of Graz and earned his doctorate in high-pressure process engineering at the Ruhr University of Bochum in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT. He is now project responsible for a plant section of a new production plant in Texas - a task for which the IPAT program also prepared him: "You can prove yourself right away fresh out of university: We already had the opportunity to take on responsibility right from the start." Before that, he had already moved to Shanghai as an IPAT to set up and operate a pilot plant for an important process optimization. “Even as a greenhorn, I had the chance to make a difference and be visible."