R SpohnStudying at Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) gives me the opportunity to learn about many different areas of the MANN+HUMMEL. Having spent time in Group Purchasing and in Logistics in Ludwigsburg, I am currently based in the Controlling department of Operations Germany. This fits in perfectly with my degree course in business studies and industrial service management, in which I’m learning everything I need to know about industrial operations, in particular material and production management, logistics and accounting.

The Purchasing and Logistics departments fascinated me from the outset. After just a few days, I knew that this could become my new passion and I found it even more interesting in practice than in theory.

Internship in Controlling: more than Excel spreadsheets

In contrast, working in Controlling presented me with some difficulties at first. It quickly became apparent that a controller does more than just sit around all day looking at Excel spreadsheets. They deal with extremely interesting and complex issues. This is the crux of the matter: the topics are very complex and only now, at the end of my twelve-week internship, am I beginning to understand what controlling is really about.

Although our lectures taught me many of the everyday terms used in controlling, these topics were covered much more superficially. There is, after all, a difference between memorising a definition to be written out in an exam and actually applying the ideas in day-to-day life.

Finally – thanks to lots of meetings in which I just sat and listened, a few visits to the library to look up a concept or a term and, of course, the support of my extremely patient and always cheerful supervisor – I am beginning to actually understand the figures … and it turns out that controlling can be really good fun!

Steering the company in the right direction – Controlling

Controlling is not just a matter of collecting vast quantities of data and figures from a wide range of areas (production, quality, personnel, finance, etc.), but also analysing, interpreting and processing the data. This provides the management with a basis on which to make decisions and derive appropriate measures to steer the company in the right direction – and this is precisely what it makes so exciting.

What surprised me the most was that the numbers in controlling are by no means as definitely as they appear. They are always based on assumptions and mathematical models and can produce completely different results depending on the model applied. The task of the Controlling department is to know which theory will be most appropriate and informative in the situation at hand.

As a DHBW student, I have found it fascinating to see how companies are actually managed and how complicated this can be not to mention the insights I have gained into the regions I´ve been! I still don’t know whether I want to return to Controlling, but I have another 18 months to decide before I complete my course. For the moment, I’m looking forward to returning to university and getting to know another area of MANN+HUMMEL in the summer!