LEO PALMA – an industrial engineer knows no boundaries!
Leo Palma has been working in technical project management at the Schnitzer Group since 2016. Prior to his studies in industrial engineering, he completed a training as an IT management assistant. Mr. Palma has a strong affinity for technology, coupled with a very positive charisma, high empathy and communication skills. Ideal for his daily work as SYSTEMIC Project Manager in a global environment.
1. You have already spent several months on the road for the Schnitzer Group in the NAFTA area and now China? What attracts you to Asia?
At the Schnitzer Group, there is a high degree of flexibility in the daily work and, of course, also in projects. That makes everyday life exciting. Personally, I have always been a fan of Asia and seized the opportunity to spend a semester abroad in Thailand during my studies. When I was approached by an internal job advertisement at Schnitzer Consulting Shanghai in 2019, I applied the same day for the assignment in China. This was received very positively and after handing over the current projects, I was already in Shanghai two months later.
2. In which countries had you worked for the Schnitzer Group up to that point? Is there a favorite country?
I have been fortunate enough to manage many international projects. Within Europe, I was able to gain technical project experience in Switzerland, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands and Slovenia. After a month-long project assignment in Mexico, I had the desire to continue working in the NAFTA area. Since my move, it is clear that China, where I live and work since 2019, is my favorite.
3. How long will you support the Chinese team?
The current world situation makes it easy to make a decision. China has almost overcome the pandemic. Here you can move freely and you only feel COVID to a limited extent about headlines from "abroad". Work and life go on here undisturbed and I feel very, very comfortable here in Asia.
4. What makes your "Chinese"?
Living and working in China is easy with a good knowledge of English. Thus, my Chinese vocabulary has not developed too much. However, since I plan to stay in China for a longer period of time, I am now taking a Chinese language course to integrate linguistically as well.
5. Can you still remember the first weeks and months in China?
Of course I do! The team here gave me a warm welcome and already on my second day in China I got my first project for a Tier1 supplier. It is simply exciting to experience a completely different "way of live and work". And of course, the food, which couldn't be more diverse. Right from the start, the men's shared apartment with Andreas Kohler, CEO of the Schnitzer Consulting China, was a plus.
6. What was/is your highlight in China?
It is the internationality, the flair of the big city and the flow of the metropolis with its millions of inhabitants that can be felt here every day. You live and work in a melting pot of cultures. It is an absolute highlight to see how nations, people, languages develop in parallel and only being human counts, no matter what skin color, origin or religion. The term cosmopolitan is totally appropriate here.
7. Which experiences can no longer be taken away from you?
It's just my thing to get to know the most diverse living and working conditions in the most different countries. Unique impressions and experiences that I gain in a wide variety of customer projects also broaden my horizon and are part of a really good life for me.
8. What do you value most about the Schnitzer Group?
Openness, appreciation and trust! These qualities are practiced values at the Schnitzer Group. I almost think they are unique. I was always able to coordinate personal development directly with the management and define a common path, so that a win-win situation always arose.
Technical hands-on experience, which expands with every project. You can make an impact in the projects and achieve a lot. The close cooperation with colleagues in international projects shows again and again how swarm intelligence is actively practiced.
Variety: Sometimes I work in injection molding, then I get a project with a focus on metal forming or carbon. Then there are topics with headlights, then another project with air intake grilles or injection nozzles. It's the technical and human challenges in projects that never get boring.
9. How did you become aware of the Schnitzer Group back then?
I was a student and working on my bachelor thesis. At the same time, I was already in the application process for a job. By chance, I got into a conversation with a Schnitzer Group employee. The enthusiasm with which he told me about his everyday work quickly spilled over to me and the very next day my application went out to the Schnitzer Group. After the interview, I could say it was love at first sight!
10. The Schnitzer Group has many experts in a wide variety of fields, how does that work?
Due to many years of expertise, the Schnitzer Group team includes many colleagues with in-depth expert knowledge. For example, we have experts in quality, metal forming, injection molding, tooling and mechanical engineering, carbon technology, light & vision. The team can fall back on these knowledge yodas at any time. Our customers have a central contact person (one face to the customer) and a whole team of experts in the background.
11. How do you reconcile your job with family life?
That's the only downer. The exit and entry regulations owed to Covid-19 prevent travel back home. I miss my daughter Anna very much, as well as my dear mother and the whole family. I fervently hope that the borders will open soon. Unfortunately, Facetime cannot replace the real hugs.
The interview was moderated by Ulrike Schnitzer with Leo Palma.