RKW respect stories. Meet...

Respect is one of the most important values at RKW, a globally successful privately-run business. Here you can get to know some of the employees of the market leader in film solutions and discover their fascinating stories.

Jingyi-Wang.new

“Challenges are an opportunity”

Jingyi Wang

Jingyi Wang studied German at university in China and did her master’s in business and culture in Germany. She joined RKW in 2014 as a general trainee and is now also responsible for looking after customers in her native China in her role as marketing manager in Frankenthal. She regards challenges as an opportunity.

Get to know Jingyi Wang

Football can build bridges

I studied German because I thought Miroslav Klose was so great. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Germany featured a great deal on Chinese television. I really liked it all, but I didn’t want to be a German teacher. Instead, I wanted to gain specialist knowledge. That is why I went to Germany after completing my German degree, with only a suitcase and a rucksack. I was 21 years old. Mannheim was my dream university, situated in the middle of Germany, with a mild climate, housed in a baroque palace – and with the highest position in the ranking. I studied business administration, German, and philosophy. The philosophy course helped me to better understand my German friends. German people ask themselves: “Am I happy?” The Chinese think: “If you are happy, I am also happy.

Yingyi Wang talking to two men. 

Muffins from the boss

I lived all alone in Germany for six years. It was difficult on birthdays because my family was never by my side. In June 2014, I started as a general trainee at RKW’s headquarters. I opted for RKW because it is a highly innovative family-run business. And the team spirit in my early days was exceptionally good – I celebrated Germany winning the World Cup with my colleagues. It was a fantastic evening! It was my birthday in August. When I arrived at the office on that day, my boss at the time had baked cakes and muffins. The muffins were still warm … I was given flowers, a gift, everyone gave me a hug. It was a wonderful day and I felt part of a family. We chatted a lot and even cooked together at lunchtime. Everybody tried to help one another.

Between Frankenthal and China

A great deal has changed in my professional life since then. After successfully completing the trainee program, during which I spent time in almost every department and almost six months at RKW in China, I was taken on in the marketing department at RKW in Frankenthal. Ever since then, I have been looking after marketing for the China region. In addition, I am responsible for market intelligence across the entire group, so I oversee market studies and provide analyses in order to further improve the success of our marketing activities. My role also includes the marketing of a range of core products across all divisions.

RKW also gives me the opportunity to get involved in the area of sales, where I actively assist the agricultural division in the direct management of its existing customers. It is a very interesting role, particularly since I am also able to travel, visit customers, and organize trade fairs in my native land. My further career options at RKW will be decided together in a team over the coming months. I like the fact that new opportunities always arise – allowing me to change together with the company and play a part in helping it continue to evolve.

I have always loved such challenges in my life! Naturally also away from work – canyoning, rafting, bungee jumping, parachuting – I’ve tried it all.

Upholding values

Another challenge is upholding the values that RKW represents. There are many new international colleagues as a result of the company’s global growth. I think it is vital to show them the importance of respect, team spirit, and honesty. These very values were a key reason why I chose RKW. And I believe they are one of the main reasons why the company continues to attract talent.

“Manager on a part-time basis? Why not!”

Sandra-Grimm

Sandra Grimm

Sandra Grimm wants to build a successful career – and be there for her children. That is why she made it clear on her application: I want to work part-time and that is also possible as a manager! As HR manager at RKW in Michelstadt, Germany, Sandra Grimm proves that she is right in this assertion on a daily basis.

Get to know Sandra Grimm

 

Achieve something and enjoy doing it

I have two teenage sons and work part-time as a manager. This requires good planning and real organizational talent. The grandparents also help out when we need them. Nonetheless, my family and I must be just as prepared as my employer to react flexibly to unexpected events.

This works really well at RKW. My boss tries to arrange meetings to fit in with my working hours and otherwise only calls me in real emergency situations. I see this consideration as a kind of respect. In return, however, I am also flexible, when deadlines are approaching, for example, or when there are longer meetings or business trips. Another important aspect is the delegation of tasks. I have a very good team that can keep things running – even when I am not in the office. My colleagues have a great deal of experience and know exactly when they are able to take a decision by themselves and when they have to involve me. And in such cases, I can be contacted by telephone outside of my regular office-based working hours.
 

“To me, success is not spending 70 hours or more every week in the office, but being effective and achieving something during regular working hours. I also think that success is investing time in things that really matter, both on a professional and personal level. At the same time, it should also be enjoyable.”

 

Setting a good precedent

Many companies still do not cater for part-time staff in management positions. Even at RKW, “part-time parents” remain relatively rare. I am trying to create suitable models for other mothers and fathers, wherever possible.

In actual fact, my job was also advertised as a full-time position. They were looking for a commercial manager with responsibility for controlling, finance, and HR. I applied nonetheless with the suggestion of separating the roles of finance/controlling and HR and sharing them between two people. RKW initially declined the idea, because they saw no way of implementing it. Yet a little while later, they recognized the benefits of this model after all. We met at the interview and I was appointed HR manager on a part-time basis.
 

Actions not titles

I am pleased that there is less emphasis on having an important-sounding job title here. You cannot tell a person’s success from their title. It is more important to be able to achieve things and take on interesting roles that allow people to make a contribution and develop both personally and professionally. We need “doers” who can make things happen and enjoy their job rather than just their job title.
 

Strong women, new fathers

We are a manufacturing location. Communication is mostly very direct. Matters must be approached self-confidently, enabling most conflicts to be resolved satisfactorily through dialogue with the corresponding facilitation. One increasingly more frequent occurrence is paternity leave. Spring and summer are our peak seasons. If a young father is then absent from the manufacturing process for two months, it is difficult for us to compensate for that. We often also find a compromise here – one month for the birth and the second later on, in fall or winter.
 

Mari-Valtonen

“Learn from one another, laugh with one another”

Mari Valtonen

Mari Valtonen studied plastics engineering in Finland. As part of an Erasmus exchange program, she spent two semesters at RWTH Aachen. She wrote her master’s thesis at RKW’s Finnish location in Pori and has been head of production there since 2012. Here she explains why it was easy to join RKW and work her way up.

Get to know Mari Valtonen

Young, female, no rarity

I studied plastics engineering and wrote my master’s thesis at RKW in Pori. This provided a good opportunity to make contact and I was able to prove myself in initial projects. The entire company supported me; I was able to ask any question and everyone was very helpful. It was a very easy decision for me to join RKW after completing my master’s degree.

In Pori, I initially worked in research and development, managing the laboratory for three years. Then I sought a new challenge. In 2012, I became production manager and am now senior production manager. As a female manager in the field of industrial production, I am no rarity in Finland. There may not be many female plant managers, but there are plenty of female production managers.

In the factory: Three large rolls of film by a machine.
The Finnish location of Pori, where Mari Valtonen works as senior production manager, specializes in flexible packaging solutions for industry.

International dialogue

The induction period was intensive. I spent time in several RKW locations as part of an exchange program, including Echte and Nordhorn. I regularly get together with my colleagues from other countries; we talk, compare our benchmarks, and learn from one another. It also helps that there is a good sense of humor within the company. I can approach colleagues with a twinkle in my eye and say: “A young manager needs help.” What does this mean??? If someone makes a mistake, we talk about it over a coffee, but with humor.

Typically Finnish, typically RKW

I thank people personally for their good work and particular commitment. But Finns are very modest and we tend to play down praise from others. In Finland we are all on first-name terms. It is typical of our culture that all production employees can come directly to me with their concerns, although this style is also typical of RKW.

“Anyone with the desire and ability will go far here”

Ali-Korkmaz

Ali Korkmaz

Ali Korkmaz joined RKW as a machine assistant in Petersaurach, Germany. He trained to become a machine operator and shift manager and later went over to Egypt to help set up the RKW plant there. He is now based in Petersaurauch where he works as a process technician in the H&I division and draws up training concepts together with colleagues in order to train production employees in the area of extrusion at other RKW locations.

Get to know Ali Korkmaz

 

Extrusion is an art form

Extrusion is an art form. We take the base material and create a huge bubble through the interaction of external air, internal air, and extracted air. In doing so, we have to react to factors such as the temperature. It takes patience and a great deal of instinct before the plastic bubble has the optimal thickness and quality. Only then is it rolled, shaped, and wrapped … I love this job; I love this machine. When you’ve got it up and running, it’s an indescribable feeling.
 

A large plastic bubble created during film production.
The extrusion process involves melting plastic in powder or granulate form and forcing it through a nozzle at high pressure. This creates a bubble so big that it almost touches the ceiling of a high production hall. The supply of cold air externally and internally determines the thickness of the plastic film.

 

The managers open doors

I started at RKW in Petersaurach as a machine assistant 15 years ago. For the past three years, I have been a shift manager and trainer in the area of extrusion. My manager approached me because I possess the specialist knowledge and am good at dealing with people. Everything is taken care of at RKW – and not just financially. The managers open doors and help employees to develop. If you have the desire and the ability, you will go far here.
 

“I love this job; I love this machine. When you’ve got it up and running, it’s an indescribable feeling.”

 

You cannot work without respect

I was born in Turkey. My parents moved to Germany when I was a small boy. Respect is a very important value in Turkish culture, so it is a matter of course for me. To this day, I would never smoke a cigarette in front of my father. You cannot work without respect and manners – towards young and old alike. I enjoy listening to others and discussing their issues.
 

You cannot work without respect

From 2011 onwards, I worked at the new RKW location in Egypt. There were ten of us from Germany and each of us brought a particular skill with us. This allowed us to repair or modify machines and get the operation in Cairo up and running. In the second phase, we taught our Egyptian colleagues how to use the machinery. Thirdly, we had to ensure that the high standards of quality would be met. I learned a great deal, gained a lot of new experience, and now also speak Arabic.
 

Klaus-Hering

“My biggest challenge”

Klaus Hering

Klaus Hering is an engineer, having studied plastics engineering in Würzburg. His career at RKW has included time spent in quality assurance and product management and roles as plant manager and his current position as vice president of sales in the hygiene and industrial division.

Get to know Klaus Hering

 

How about Spain?

My biggest challenge at RKW was also one of my most valuable experiences of my professional career to date. I was product manager for our most important customer and had to travel to Spain – to the RWK Iter plant in Zaragoza – to work on a customer’s project. Shortly afterwards, I was asked if I wanted to take on the change management role as site manager.
 

I couldn’t even speak Spanish …

I couldn’t even speak Spanish. I accepted the job and took a three-week crash course in Spanish. This was just about enough to enable me to order food at the local restaurant, but by no means good enough for the job. My Spanish colleagues’ knowledge of English varied greatly. One of my strengths is my ability to persuade people, but I am unable to do that if I can only make myself understood via an interpreter. You have to be able to communicate with people in their own language!

We worked with a consultancy firm to launch a change process and fundamentally improve the corporate culture. We were able to negotiate a severance package without any resulting strike action – almost unheard of in Spain. Everything took off. In 2011, we reported a positive operating result for the first time. And my Spanish was good enough to enable me to speak the language of my colleagues.
 

Klaus Hering next to a film machine.
Whether in Spain, China, or Germany, Klaus Hering appreciates the open RKW management culture based on teamwork.
 

Off to China!

I came back to Germany at the beginning of 2012 for personal reasons. I became director of business development. Once again, it was a coincidence that determined my career path. Our main customer approached us and asked us to supply its production site in China with film. This would involve establishing an RKW plant in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

Construction work began at the end of 2013 and by mid-2014 we were able to set up the film printing machinery. I was only familiar with China from vacations. Clearly, the mentality of Germans and Spaniards is more similar than that of people in Europe and Asia. There is a far greater risk of committing a blunder here. But the principles are the same: All employees want to be respected and appreciated. For me, this means involving them in decision-making processes and giving them the freedom to make decisions. This open management culture connects RKW worldwide. We are committed to teamwork everywhere, rather than adhering to a patriarchal management style.
 

We are RKW

RKW employees have always been able to identify strongly with the company. Previously, when RKW was smaller, we “did things simply.” In our current phase of growth, we must define and describe structures. We want to further strengthen the sense of individual responsibility from top to bottom.

I am driven by the fact that I have little fear of failure. And I need variety. I would go crazy if I just shuffled files around in the office every day, so the opportunity in China came at the right time!
 

“Typical RKW: Respect and understanding”

June-Kroll

June Kroll

June Kroll comes from Thailand. Following spells in Bangkok and the USA, she has been working as a controller at the RKW headquarters in Frankenthal since the end of 2012. She has also come to appreciate her second home of Germany because her colleagues show her a great deal of understanding.

Get to know June Kroll

 

The open corporate culture is a bonus

 

Ms. Kroll, you have worked for a well-known management consultancy and an international cosmetics company. Why have you now chosen to work at RKW?

“I wanted to try something new; a different culture, a different management style. And not forgetting: RKW is also the market leader. Germany has now become my second home.”
 

You came to RKW’s German headquarters at the end of 2012. How was it at the start?

“Very good. I like the open corporate culture. I often used to notice that people in Germany ‘switched off’ when they noticed that I couldn’t yet speak German that well. The people at RKW were completely different and were all very helpful. We went out together; my colleagues took me to an ice hockey match. It was, and remains, a brilliant working atmosphere.”
 

What role does respect play in all of this?

“To me, respect is when my colleagues at RKW always try to understand my German, for example. It has got better in the years since I have been in Germany, but of course it isn’t yet perfect. All the same, everyone speaks German to me and if I make a mistake, they explain to me how I could express it better. I love this understanding! By the same token, I try to show my respect for the people in Germany when learning the language and the culture. I think it should go without saying when you go to another country.”
 

How satisfied are you with your career at RKW?

“My job now involves controlling projects and I try to play my part in increasing the company’s revenue and success. I returned from maternity leave a few months ago and am managing pretty well to strike the right work-life balance. The opportunity to work away from the office and the attitude of my boss have both helped here. He himself has three children and knows what it’s like when you have a family.”
 

What do you consider to be typically German?

“First and foremost, the fact that almost everybody eats potatoes here! The environmental awareness of the people is also typically German – and the fact that they like to go for walks outside. Thailand is too hot for that; people there prefer to stroll around shopping malls.”
 

Eddi-Chong

“The recipe for success: Trust!”

Eddie Chong

Eddie Chong comes from Malaysia. His career has taken him to Taiwan and Shanghai. He now lives in Singapore and the Chinese city of Guangzhou. At RKW, Eddie Chong is currently general manager of the plant in Guangzhou. He considers respect and trust to be particularly important qualities when managing employees.

Get to know Eddie Chong

 

Looking for ideas? Listening helps!

I used to work for companies that just adhered strictly to an agenda in the course of their business activities. It’s about more than just figures at RKW. There are regular conferences here involving managers from all RKW locations. For me, the collaboration with these people is a very pleasant experience. RKW gives its employees a good feeling – like a family.

There are many ways of achieving a goal. Every person is unique. Every person has good ideas, but we won’t hear them if we don’t listen. RKW has embraced this fact. I am given a great deal of freedom at work. And the managers want ideas from outsiders, from people who think out of the box. They want to listen.
 

Intercultural dialogue

We have an international team in Guangzhou/China: Germans with and without experience of working abroad, Chinese people, and other nationalities; here it is more about culture than personality. I try to establish a close relationship with my employees and find out more about their personal and family circumstances. I am friendly towards them, but not overbearing. And I create a working atmosphere in which the strengths of every single person are appreciated.
 

Eddie Chong sitting at a desk and talking to two men and a woman.
Eddie Chong works with an international team at RKW in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.

 

What can we learn from mistakes?

It is important to understand how mistakes happen. I never rebuke the employee who made the mistake, but instead try to establish how the mistake came about and look for ways of resolving the consequences of it. Maybe the mistake was the result of my management style, or maybe I failed to devote enough attention to the project. The most important question for everyone involved is this: What have we learned from this mistake? We openly discuss this question without pointing the finger at other people.
 

Team spirit and trust

When I started working at RKW, it was important to me to understand both the management’s mentality and the company’s structure and strategy. Only by doing so was I able to find the right employees, put together a strong team, and then develop this team.

A few important principles apply in relation to managing my 80 employees and gaining their cooperation. Firstly, there is the matter of respect and reliability among one another. Secondly, I specifically try to nurture the employees’ motivation. And thirdly, open communication and, above all else, trust are especially important. This creates team spirit and a feeling of harmony within the team, allowing us to perform at our best for RKW.

“Open communication and trust are especially important.”

 

Developing our own solutions in Asia

Asia not only learns from the Western world, but also from Japan and Korea. However, we cannot simply copy methods. That doesn’t work. We have to find our own solutions – our own way. I am very proud of the way in which we have built up our team in Guangzhou. We laugh together and we get our heads together when there is a problem to be solved, but always in an atmosphere of mutual appreciation.
 

“Respect. Dynamism. Happiness.”

Reham-Hassan

Reham Hassan

Reham Hassan oversees the human resources and
administration department at RKW Egypt

Get to know Reham Hassan

 

Which value is the most important?

I applied for a position at RKW in 2014. Other companies write about their guiding principles, their aims, etc. On the RKW website, I just found this single word: “Respect.” This immediately fascinated me. Respect is what it’s really all about, the most important value of all – being honest, doing good work, and showing respect towards others. Respect is the main value that allows all other values to flourish. At RKW, respect is not merely a word on a website, but something that runs through every stage of the application process, for example.
 

Reham Hassan talking to a man.
The culture of respect is the most important value for Reham Hassan in the course of her work at RKW.
 

Swapping Shakespeare’s “Merchant” for management!

I studied English literature. Shakespeare is my favorite writer. Language is very important for understanding a country and its values. After graduating, however, there were hardly any jobs – with a degree in English literature, you can either become a teacher or a translator. That’s what I thought, at least. A career in industry seemed impossible to me. But once I started in the HR department, I knew that it was the right job for me. I used to work for an Egyptian company and other international companies. I once even worked for a construction company. Yet I feel most at home in the field of industrial manufacturing – I haven’t experienced such dynamism anywhere else.
 

Aims: Satisfaction and professional development

I see myself as an objective intermediary between the management and the employees. The primary aim of my work in the HR department is to ensure the satisfaction of the employees. At the same time, I am also responsible for professional development. I want to assist in the development of every person at the company so that they can perform at their very best.