Fairygodboss

Daniela Katarzynski, a Plant Manager at GE Healthcare Cell Culture in Austria, can say with confidence that her job is never boring. In her own words, it’s “versatile” and she gets to “learn new things every day.” Moreover, she’s grateful that her company not only values employees’ skills — which can be developed — but also their mindset and personality.

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Recently, she spoke to Fairygodboss about her morning and evening work routine, the career move she’s most proud of, and why she considers her former manager the most influential person in her life.

How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?

I’ve been in my current role as Plant Manager for a bit more than 2 years now. Before that I was a Business Team Leader, which means I was responsible for Manufacturing, Engineering and Lean at the site where I still work. 

I started my GE Healthcare career 10 years ago at a manufacturing site in Germany right after completing my PhD Thesis in Chemistry. I began as a Research & Development Scientist but quickly moved into other roles like the Site Lean Leader and later Process Engineering Manager. I also was given responsibility for QC and became the Operations Manager within the 6 years I worked there. 

What's the first or last thing you do at work every day?

The first thing I do every morning is prepare myself a tea and get a big bottle of water to my desk so I don’t forget to drink water throughout the day. Next, I review my task list that I still use in written form (nothing else works for me). 

Reviewing my task list (and hopefully crossing off some tasks) is also one of the last things I do before I leave the office. Then I take a few seconds to review my day and write the highlight of the day in my calendar.

What's the most unique or interesting aspect of your job?

My job is very interesting because it’s so versatile. I get to learn new things every day and I’m challenged by demanding projects or unforeseen issues. I like change, and this is something we see a lot here at the site; we are lucky to be in a growing business. I like working with the great team here on site and the global colleagues. I try to do my best to lead my team through these changes.

What's something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don't know about GE that you think they should?

For me, the most amazing thing I’ve experienced at GE is the company’s investment in people. I personally have been given a great amount of opportunities and have received a lot of trust in my talent from my leaders. Not only are your solid skills are important here, it is also your mindset and your personality that add to your value. 

If this all fits together, you will get great opportunities. I was offered and encouraged to take jobs that I myself was not sure I could do, but it turned out I could!

What's something you're especially good at at work?

I’m especially good at problem-solving. I like understanding the issue, finding the root cause, evaluating different solutions, and, finally, creating an implementation plan and executing on it. The problems to solve have varied over the years from solid manufacturing problems to strategic problems. 

What about outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my 11-year old son, my husband and our two dogs. On the weekends we go for long walks all together. I love reading and listening to audiobooks and acrylic painting (which I should do more often). 

What are you trying to improve on?

My goal is to improve and learn something every day. I listen to audiobooks a lot and always have some takeaways that I want to implement for myself. Currently, I try to complain less and to not apologize for things that do not require an apology (never start an email with “Sorry for not responding to you earlier…”). 

What's your favorite mistake?

I don’t have a favorite mistake. For sure I made tons of mistakes, but I try not to let them demotivate me; I am not ruminating on mistakes for weeks. I just figure out what I learned from it and move on. 

What's the one career move you've made that you're most proud of?

After spending six years at the same site in various roles, I moved with my family from Germany to Austria. Starting from scratch in a different business was not easy. But I am happy and proud that I did it. I left my comfort zone, threw myself in a different environment (yes, Germany and Austria are different!) and my learning curve and personal development increased very much.  

What do you love most about working at GE?

I love that every day is a new challenge AND a new opportunity. I love working with the great people here. 

What's your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?

Believe in your skills and abilities and apply for the job you want to have even if you do not 100% fulfill the requirements. In the interview, convince the hiring manager with the right passion and self-confidence that you are a good fit for the job. Promote yourself and talk about your successes and achievements.  

Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?

One of my former managers — the one giving me all the different jobs during the six years at my first site and the one who asked me to come to Austria — always had great trust in my abilities. He asked for my opinion and I felt very valued by him. 

I am thankful for all the opportunities he gave me, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. Within 7 years, he developed me from a R&D Scientist into a Plant Manager, so that I could become his successor when he moved on to his next role.  

What's the most memorable piece of career advice you've received?

This was not too long ago. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like, “Don’t wait for others – take action yourself.” It is quite simple, but at that moment I needed someone to say this to me. It was eye-opening. I was still waiting for some form of guidance or approval, but in most cases, I can just take action myself. This was a great insight and makes things move much faster.

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