Albrecht Bochow: Bridging East and West
Published: October 9, 2013 (Issue # 1781)
Having grown up in Eastern Germany, behind the Iron Curtain, Albrecht Bochow had always had a strong desire to travel. This thirst for new impressions and experiences led Bochow through his career and brought him to different countries and continents, finally landing him in Russia in 2007. Bochow was first appointed Managing Director of the newly formed MAGNA – GAZ Joint Supply Organization in Nizhny Novgorod. Since August 2011, he has been a Member of the Management Board at Kirovsky Zavod and is responsible for the company’s international strategy and business development. He confesses that he likes business opportunities, meeting people from different countries, bringing them together to brainstorm and develop projects, and, as a result, receives some benefit. Bochow talks about his work with good cheer and remarks that if he didn’t like his job, he wouldn’t be here. Bochow sat down with The St. Petersburg Times in the offices of the factory and spoke about his career journey, the experience of being an expat in a top position at a Russian company and shared his own observations about the differences between Russian and Western working styles.
Q: You started your career in Mexico. Why was your first job out of college so far away from Europe?
A: I was 18 when the Berlin wall came down, which means that I spent 18 years behind the Iron Curtain. I remember the liveliness of the situation and I’m very happy that the wall came down. Lots of members of my family lived in West Germany and I couldn’t even visit them. Yet, we always had an attachment to West Germany; there were TV and radio stations from West Berlin, so we were not completely isolated. And there has always been the tendency to travel in our family. I heard from my cousins how they went on vacation and traveled all over the world, and this wanderlust also developed in me. In seventh grade, my geography teacher gave me a big map of North America. Throughout my youth I had that map hanging above my bed. Looking at this map, I thought that one day I had to go to America. So I finished high school, graduated from the Dresden Technical University in Engineering and went to America for three months before traveling to Mexico. As coincidences sometimes happen in life, I met someone who worked in the HR Department at Volkswagen Mexico. Since I had worked as an intern at Volkswagen Germany, three weeks later they offered me a job. I stayed in Mexico for two years.
Q: What was your further professional journey?
A: When you start your professional career, you realize that you need to study more and more. As I heard a lot of good things about business education in the United States, I decided to study for an MBA degree. Then I went back to Germany and worked for a consulting firm for some years. They sent me back to America where I again spent a couple of years. While working, I met many top-level managers and, as a result, I was invited to join - Magna International in Austria. As I had some language ability in Russian and I was interested in new projects, I was asked to join a business development team and to go to Russia. These business trips, in the end, resulted in my living in Nizhny Novgorod, where I started a subsidiary for MAGNA. Later, through some colleagues, I was invited to work for Kirovsky Zavod and I decided to make a change and work in St. Petersburg for a Russian company. At the time it was an experiment but it was, and remains, very interesting, so I have no regrets. I’ve been here now for more than two years.
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