Stories from over 90 years of SEW-EURODRIVE: Manuela Girrbach

Two years in South Africa – an unforgettable experience

Manuela Girrbach
Manuela Girrbach, two years in South Africa

Not only SEW-EURODRIVE has a long tradition. There are some employees who have been with the company a long time. One of them is Manuela Girrbach. She began her career in 1987 as a trainee industrial clerk. Today, she works in the secretary’s office of the Heavy Industrial Solutions business unit.

Now 46, Girrbach managed to fulfill one of her dreams 15 years ago, when she spent two years working in SEW-EURODRIVE’s South African subsidiary. This afforded her the opportunity to get to know lots of new and friendly colleagues, as well as another country and its people. Here is her report:

It had long been a dream of mine to live and work abroad at some point. This would not only enable me to improve my English, but I would also be faced with new challenges.

For me, SEW-EURODRIVE is a reliable employer with excellent social benefits. I particularly like the international atmosphere. Further training and qualification opportunities made it possible for me to take on new challenges.

Overseas placement with SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa

SEW-EURODRIVE plant in Vienna
SEW-EURODRIVE plant in Vienna
SEW-EURODRIVE plant in Vienna

In February 2000, I was transferred to the assembly plant in Johannesburg at my own request. As a marketing/public relations assistant, my work there was very interesting and diverse. It included designing advertisements and flyers, coordinating and planning all SEW events – such as anniversary celebrations, trade fairs or conferences – and customer events such as the Oktoberfest.

At that time, the Oktoberfest was an annual event held in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nelspruit, and was a real highlight for customers. They particularly enjoyed the draft beer, German specialties and the brass band playing Bavarian folk music. There was also the opportunity to take part in a plant tour and find out more about SEW-EURODRIVE’s products in a little in-house trade fair. These trade fairs are important events for SEW South Africa. Planning, coordinating and participating in them was always very enjoyable for me. I had no problems adapting. I found it fascinating and invigorating to work in a foreign country with people of a different culture. I quickly got used to my new surroundings and way of life.

South Africa – the whole world in one country

South Africa is more than four times the size of Germany. This vast area, along with various climatic factors, means it is home to a wide variety of landscapes, ranging from the Kalahari desert to the Mediterranean-style climate of the Cape region, from the cool, rough seas of the west coast to tropical Maputaland on the Mozambique border, and from the huge animal reserves in the area around Kruger National Park to the nearly 3000 m-high Drakensberg mountains.

This “whole world in one country” is also reflected in the population. Living conditions vary greatly – every level of existence is represented, from luxury, wealth and middle-class to extreme poverty.

I tried to use my spare time to explore the country and get to know its people as much as possible. Again and again, I was particularly fascinated by the landscapes, the sky, the nature and game reserves, and the safaris where I could get up close with African fauna.

My time abroad remains an unforgettable experience.

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