In love with biochemistry and pharmaceuticals
“My childhood dream was to be a doctor,” explains Jeanne. “But that all changed in secondary school when I went on an excursion to a pharmaceutical company. I was very impressed by the way people worked there and thought to myself: ‘Wow, I want to work in a company like this one day, making medicines that help people all over the world’. I fell in love with biochemistry that day (laughs) and right then and there I knew I would become a biochemical engineer. After I left school I wanted to study abroad. I could already speak English and French, so I could have gone to the UK, the US, France or Canada, but I deliberately opted for Germany. No, choosing the easy road is definitely not my style (laughs). My first goal was to learn German and then I stayed on in Germany to study engineering. I firmly believe if you want something badly enough, you can do it. After graduating, I started looking for a job in the pharmaceutical industry. On a career site I came across the name GEA. I remember it as if it were yesterday: the job interview lasted two and a half hours and the more I found out about GEA, the more I knew I wanted to work there. In 2011 I joined the company as a Process Engineer Pharma at the site in Hildesheim, near Hanover. Mission accomplished!”
I firmly believe if you want something badly enough, you can do it.
Source of happiness
“I have absolutely no regrets about the decision I made eight years ago. I’m now married and have three young children, but I never took extended maternity leave and have always worked full-time. Look, my job is just really important to me and I believe that you have to give it your all if you want to get ahead. I love what I do as a Project Engineer and have come a long way, but I feel I have a lot more to offer. I’m always curious to open new doors and see what’s behind them. Recently, for example, I got a huge boost to my confidence from working on GEA’s biggest order in Pharma. The pressure was enormous and in the pre-engineering phase our team had six weeks to show what we were made of. During that time I did a lot of things for the first time in my life (laughs) and learned a massive amount. When the order was confirmed, I was really proud that I'd contributed to our success. But that was just the start, of course: I find it so exciting to see the project gradually taking shape, level by level. And the fact that I have the chance to travel to Chicago to help the client with the installation and commissioning on site gives me great satisfaction. Being able to see with my own eyes that the client is happy and that the end product is top quality is a real source of happiness for me.”
Being able to see with my own eyes that the client is happy and that the end product is top quality is a real source of happiness for me.
Impossible isn’t a fact, it’s an opinion
“Do I find it a disadvantage being an African woman in a team made up mainly of Germans? No, why should that be a disadvantage? Even at college, I was often the only female African, but that’s no excuse for not getting ahead. We’re like a family here at GEA Pharma and there’s always someone who will answer any questions you may have. I believe that you can get anywhere you want if you have an open mind. Yes, I come from another continent, but I can and want to be open and get on with people with a different background and mentality. What matters is the end result we achieve together. What matters is that we all do everything we can to satisfy the clients. Look, I’m now 36 and feel that I still have room to develop and learn. I’d love to do an MBA and it would be great if GEA could support me with that. Because one day I want to do even bigger things. I want to grow and inspire others with my story. Don’t look at the obstacles, don’t think that something is impossible; step out of your comfort zone, open that door and see what's behind it. That’s the spirit that brought me to Germany and the same spirit drives me to see the rest of the world. I go where I can make a difference; I go where GEA needs me (laughs).”
Don’t look at the obstacles, don’t think that something is impossible; step out of your comfort zone, open that door and see what's behind it.