Who would have thought that you would start your time as a new trainee fighting for your life? Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) students Susanne Lehnert and Stefanie Sauter give an account of their ‘survival training’ during the introduction days for newcomers at MANN+HUMMEL.


The 35 of us DHBW students and apprentices new to MANN+HUMMEL were surprised when we received the invitation to the introduction days in Ludwigsburg in our mailboxes. One of the items on the agenda for our first day on September 3rd was ‘Outdoor survival training’. Ursula Fritz, Head of Training at the company, told the participants was that: “It is important that you bring heavy-duty clothing and a rain coat…”

We knew that MANN+HUMMEL had been organising a five day introduction period for all new trainees at its headquarters in Ludwigsburg since 2012. But ‘survival training’? What would that involve? Skydiving? Would we be marooned in Ludwigsburg’s ‘Favourite-Park’? Bungee jumping?

Far from it! First of all, we got together with our coach Günther Lohfink. He taught us about ‘soft skills’, including how to give presentations, how to provide and take on board feedback correctly, and how to work in teams and do so effectively. We were then tasked with applying what we had learned during ‘survival training’ at the outdoor education adventure park in the Neckarweihingen area of Ludwigsburg. Dangerous crocodile pits, ticking time bombs, and electric fences all awaited us

The tension was written across our faces, but using Günther Lohfink’s teamwork tips and tricks, we managed to overcome even the most difficult hurdles and put on gallant display together. With the strategy clearly outlined and tasks distributed to particular individuals, the five teams heaved themselves up along the high ropes and negotiated their way across the slack line over the crocodile pit.

crocodile pit

The importance of trust and observing the rules of communication within a company were emphasised in a game involving a tennis ball (the aforementioned time bomb!). Once a leader had been chosen, the remaining team members were blindfolded. The tennis ball lay on an empty reel, to which several two-metre lengths of cord were attached in a big circle. Each blindfolded member of the team had to take one cord in their hand and follow the instructions of the leader regarding how to proceed.

survival training

This was a light-hearted way of getting to know each other better and helped us to build mutual trust, which will undoubtedly help us during our day-to-day work. It was also a chance to start networking with our colleagues in Speyer and Ludwigsburg.

survival training

We hope that the next few weeks and months will bring just as much fun and enjoyment as the introduction days, and would like to say thanks once again for the support we received, and also the great organisation.

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