Let’s be honest, you likely don’t associate controlling with being sexy. As a college student, I connected it with words like dull, boring, and uninspiring. My image of a controller was that of a loner – someone who never laughs in public. Whose day-to-day work always follows the same rhythm, and who would rather sit alone in a quiet little room pushing numbers back and forth than talking to people. In other words, neither the man of my dreams nor my dream job.
And yet, after nearly eleven years in the professional world, I find myself back in controlling. What happened? Have I become a version of that cliché? A glance at the mirror reassures me that’s probably not the case, but then - what did happen?
When I applied as a Finance Trainee at Evonik in 2010, I did it because the program promised variety thanks to the different assignment areas, along with constant new challenges and the possibility of spending a couple of months abroad. I was not too intrigued by the controlling part, but the program made a good overall impression. Already in the Assessment Center, I realized my outlined stereotype didn’t really apply to any of my colleagues. The people I met here were much too diverse and communicative. It was an impression that would deepen over the next few weeks and months. I found a mix of colleagues with many years of controlling experience, career changers with a chemistry or engineering background, and new employees whose different personalities complemented each other and allowed them to see things from new perspectives. The “typical“ controller type didn’t seem to exist.
The same was true for the assignments. Naturally, the focus is on facts, figures and data, and those are often represented in Excel files and systems. But the questions are always changing. Interpreting this data and coming up with recommendations for complex issues is something that cannot take place in a silo – you need the constant interaction with colleagues, both inside and outside the Controlling department. Consequently, next to my analytical skills, the job also challenged and expanded my communication skills. And I was able to do what I like best: work with people, take on new challenges, and solve problems.
For those reasons, after spending six years int the operational business, I now find myself back in Strategic Group Controlling. In my role as a partner for a chemicals division, I support operational questions, e.g., regarding investment decisions and portfolio management. At the same time, I track the implementation of the company’s interests at the division level, providing an important contribution to corporate management.
My journey with Evonik is far from over, and after spending time in different functions and countries I am excited to see where it takes me next. But what I do know is that my experiences in controlling have given me the best possible preparation for the next part of the trip.