Employee story

You bond the minute you meet a GEA colleague from another country

Tatjana Krampitz

Hanover born Tatjana Krampitz began her journey with GEA in 2013. Today she leads the Technology Management team in GEA’s New Food unit. While her academic and subsequent career path has been pretty straightforward, both have taken her to interesting and sometimes surprising places around the world.

Looking back, I can see my path to GEA was already taking shape during university. I have always loved the sciences, but I knew I wanted to focus on more than just biology. I had a desire for both technical and process knowledge, so I majored in biotechnology and process engineering, which was still a fairly new field at the time. During my studies, I spent a critical half a year with the Erasmus program in Uppsala, Sweden. This was one of the greatest experiences in my life. I loved the close working relationship with professors and the intense cooperation of working in small groups to develop solutions, such as engineering proteins. 

Path to GEA

During the thesis phase I was working for a pharma lab. As I considered my next step, I knew I wanted to be somewhere where biotechnology and process engineering would both be part of my job. This led me pretty quickly to GEA, where I started as a project engineer in 2013 in the liquid pharma business unit. Eventually, I moved into project management, and this meant I was responsible for my own projects and teams which enabled me to travel even more. I spent many weeks over the course of two years in Korea to build an insulin plant – which I loved. This was an opportunity to expand my GEA network and my cultural and culinary horizons. I have fond memories of a jellyfish salad!

I’ve traveled the world with GEA, and I can say, that the multinational projects here are great. Wherever you go, you can always count on another colleague being there. You bond the minute you meet a GEA colleague from another country, and you can learn so much from one another.

Pharma to New Food

I joined GEA’s brand new, New Food team in 2021. With a background in pharma and biotech, I brought the needed cross-over experience for this new business area which involves the development of solutions that support customers in the production of alternative proteins.

Both pharma and New Food require a deep understanding of precision fermentation and culturing mammalian cells, which in the pharma industry is one way to develop and produce drugs. Also, both industries have their specific and demanding regulations when it comes to producing according to precise and demanding hygienic standards. Today, pharma techniques and processes are being transferred – with some modification – for use in alternative protein, and more specifically, cell-based food production. Given the food industry is very price driven and competitive, we must develop smart processes that are neither over-regulated, over-designed nor over-engineered.

Lots of opportunities, and a few challenges

New Food is quite exciting because it offers pathways to create food with a smaller ecological footprint and gives us the chance to produce on demand. That means, not being at the mercy of rainfall and other climatic conditions or land availability; and not having to depend so heavily on large-scale livestock rearing. It is an opportunity for developing nations to establish food security and independence and for all countries to forge more sustainable food systems.

The challenge is that not all processes are established. Often, each customer comes to us with a different or entirely new need. One day it may be algae-based, another day dairy-based, or a customer who wants to produce a chicken product and maybe another day the customer has a fungus-based product idea. That means for each, we may have to conduct new research. And there are many aspects which need testing and defining to ensure the best results. That said, because nearly every project has some new aspect, this promotes quite open discussions between us and our customers. It is more collaborative because we are learning from each other during this process. I really like this.

New Food is quite exciting because it offers pathways to create food with a smaller ecological footprint and gives us the chance to produce on demand.
The right ingredients for technology development and R&D

Some might be surprised to find out how collaborative working in technology development and R&D is. You need to listen to your team members, listen to customers about their needs and look at the market to see what opportunities are there or what problems could be solved with either existing or new GEA solutions.

An open mind-set and being able to change course and fail fast, when necessary, are also important in my job. In R&D you often have an idea about how something should work, but then you have to test it – and perhaps retest and retest. So, in addition to being a team player, you need a degree of resiliency and agility to deal with the variety of topics and customer needs we have. And of course, being able to think laterally and transfer know-how from one situation to another is important for success in my role.

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GEA oferuje wiele możliwości rozwijania kariery w branży inżynierii mechanicznej. Ponadto proponujemy także praktyki oraz studia dwutorowe.
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