Stories from over 90 years of SEW-EURODRIVE: Michael Kropp

Michael Kropp, Innovation Mechatronics Product Solution Center Mechatronics
Michael KroppFour years in Australia. Today: Innovation Mechatronics Product Solution Center Mechatronics – Motor, Bruchsal, Germany

Training Down Under

Training customers and employees has always had a high priority in SEW-EURODRIVE’s corporate policy. The numerous DriveAcademies around the world are testimony of this. Their success story is closely connected with the name Michael Kropp. One of the highlights of his career was developing a training center in Australia.


I began as group manager for "Training and Documentation" in 1991. As my career at SEW-EURODRIVE progressed, I remained committed to the subject of training. Initially, this only involved training the company’s own employees, but I and my team soon widened the training program to include customers’ employees. This was how the DriveAcademy® was born. As time went on, more and more training centers were set up in Germany and around the world, trainers were trained, and the range of courses available expanded.

SEW-EURODRIVE has set new standards with its customer training. Even if the old-style courses of the early 90s involving overhead projector and employees attending in person have long-since been replaced by state-of-the-art media that enable faster and more sustainable knowledge transfer, the added value of the training centers still remains the same, giving employees the expertise that puts them at the cutting edge of drive engineering and automation. Training is and remains a crucial component in successfully getting ahead of the competition worldwide.

In 2007 I set course for one of the key milestones of my own career development, when I saw an in-house job advertisement for the position of “Technical Training Manager” for the development of product training in Australia. I didn’t hesitate long, applied, and got the job. This was a huge step, because it involved balancing work demands and my own private life. I tackled the new job with the support of my family. My wife gave up her own job and the entire family moved Down Under for two years and two months. My son and daughter completed their schooling in Australia.

As time went on, our offering was increasingly well received. Also SEW-EURODRIVE in New Zealand soon started joining the training courses in Australia. Training is and remains a crucial component in successfully getting ahead of the competition worldwide.

At the beginning there were a few teething problems to deal with

Neither the training standard of the local employees nor the operating software and internet applications were comparable with what I was used to from German sites. Within a very short period of time, I had to train a large number of employees and establish an internet site with additional offerings. We were also frequently confronted with wrong assumptions on the part of customers. Many customers did not plan for more than two days of training. In addition, we were always getting e-learning requests. But how am I supposed to explain the complexity of a gearmotor or the startup procedure for a frequency inverter over the internet? It just can’t be done.

Nonetheless, I overcame all the challenges – thanks to the support of my team and the generally laid-back nature of the Australians. As time went on, our offering was increasingly well received. SEW-EURODRIVE in New Zealand soon also started joining the training courses in Australia.

In retrospect, this can all be seen as a success story: SEW-EURODRIVE now has training centers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. If necessary, the trainers also go to the customers’ sites. You don’t get much closer to the customer than that!

Back in Good old Germany

After his time in Australia, I started looking for a new challenge within the company, and moved to product management for standard drive technology at the beginning of 2011. This involves analyzing markets and their requirements so as to work with requesters and development and related areas to offer customers the products that meet their needs. I am very grateful for the wealth of experience that I and my family were able to gather in Australia, and consider that to be one of the best times of his private and professional life.

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