Anna Lena, you moved to the north of Germany specifically because of the wind industry. What do you find so fascinating about it?
I completed my Master's degree in safety engineering with a focus on occupational safety in Wuppertal and then wanted to find a place where I could pursue my hobby of playing handball in addition to my profession. Bremen was immediately shortlisted as a location for wind energy and professional sports. After I received a good offer from the club “Werder Bremen”, I looked around for jobs and found the right one at Deutsche Windtechnik. I feel very much at home here.
What fascinates me most about wind energy are the heights at which we work. At the company where I worked before, I held GWO and DGUV training courses. During these training courses, abseiling from the wind turbines was always a highlight for me and I really enjoyed it.
How long have you been playing handball?
For more than 20 years. I was born into the sport because my parents both played handball. I come from a small town called Lenzinghausen near Bielefeld where handball is very popular, and I practically grew up in the gymnasium.
Of course I also played handball when I was studying in Wuppertal. When the team in Wuppertal was undergoing major changes during the COVID pandemic, I got an offer to play there in the second division, and it all fell into place. Before that, I had never played in a higher league, although I did play once in the third division. I'm now playing my fourth season with Werder Bremen in the second Bundesliga. I play back right.
How was your start at Deutsche Windtechnik?
Very easy and pleasant. I got to know everyone quickly and felt right at home. In QHSE in particular, you can contribute your own ideas and experience very well and I was immediately able to work on my own.
What is your typical daily routine?
My daily routine varies. We're currently preparing for the season, so we also have training in the mornings. That means I first work from 7:00 to 9:30 a.m., then I go to training until 11:30. Afterwards, I have a quick lunch on the way to my desk. I work again until 4 p.m., then I leave for training at 6 p.m. and fall into bed at 9:30 p.m.
Many people think, "It's crazy that she goes to training in the morning and then goes back to work.” It's nice that I'm allowed to do that here and that I can say, "Hey, I'm just going to training for two hours and then I'll be back." Everyone understands that. The work will still get done. It's really cool that the working environment allows you to do this. I don't take that for granted.
Do you earn enough money playing handball that you could live off of it?
At 27, I'm one of the older ones in the team. Most of them are still studying at university. I have a 28 hour per week contract with Deutsche Windtechnik. I can make ends meet with both salaries. The salaries in the second division are comparable to a mini-job, and you also get a travel allowance. But that's all. It varies from club to club, but most of them can't make a living from it, even though it takes up so much of their time.
Women often push themselves just as much physically as men in competitive sports, but because of their other activities they have much less time for regeneration.
What was your most memorable moment at Deutsche Windtechnik so far?
The summer festival was a big highlight for me. I finally got to meet everyone in person. I had many informal conversations with workmates where we could chat and get to know each other in a relaxed environment. It was an extremely nice get-together.
What are your professional goals?
I currently work in quality management, and process management in particular can be organised flexibly in terms of time. After my active handball career, I would like to move more into HSE, and the subjects I studied at university will be helpful in this. If you are responsible for a project in HSE, you obviously have to meet deadlines on a daily basis, and that is even more difficult to reconcile with sports at the moment.
What does ambition mean to you?
To give everything you've got. That's why I decided not to work full time. It would be feasible, some of my teammates work full time. I admire that a lot, but I wouldn't be able to do it because I want to give my all in both areas.
If I give 100 percent at work, I don't think I can give the same in the gymnasium in the evening. With a full-time job, I couldn't train in the mornings either. If I decide to stay in the second division, then I want to be there for every training session. And I want to give my all at Deutsche Windtechnik in exactly the same way. I've always had that drive, it's just who I am. I actively look for situations in which I can prove myself. This is both a curse and a blessing because I put pressure on myself in situations where it can be a hindrance, but it can also give me enormous drive to get things done.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Come to handball, everyone! Everyone is welcome to come and watch the games.