Thirst for knowledge as a driving force


Learning has become a real passion for her. Biljana Branisavljevic-Sovic started at Gira in Assembly in 2004 and then soon applied for the position of team coordinator. While she was completing the two-year in-house training for this new function, she was already thinking about the next one. So she then directly began training as a master craftsman. Despite shift work on the job and three sessions a week at the college for master craftsmen, this single mother kept on going and successfully completed her training. She now works as shift manager in plastics production and is planning her job-concurrent university studies.

Topics in this article

Further training and promotion

In-house training at Gira

Job-concurrent university studies

You work in plastics production in shifts, in the so-called continuous shift model. What hours did you work today and how about over the next few days?

BB: I started at 5.30 this morning. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I have a late shift, then night shift on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then I have two days off.

Does it always continue in the same rhythm?

BB: No, it changes. I have been working for seven days in a row: two early shifts, two late shifts, three night shifts. Then I have two days off. And then it continues with 2 days on early shift, two days on late shift, once on night shift, then four days off. Ultimately this means that I work one to two weekends a month. After every night shift block I have two to four days off. It depends whether the weekend falls in between.

What do you do in your free time to recover from shift work? The rhythm is different if you work through a weekend or sometimes start early or late.

BB: You don't even notice the first day of the night shift. But because I am a single parent, I don't go to sleep at all, but during the day I do the household chores which were left undone on the previous days. I spend the second day with my daughter. There is homework to be done, so I see how I can help her to cope with the material. I spend most of my time on my child, my dog and the household. This is relaxation for me.

As a single parent, alongside my work I also attended night school for three and half years – that required a lot of staying power. Biljana Branisavljevic-Sovic managed it. For she knows: "The more further training I complete, the more new stuff I learn, the better chance I have of achieving something in life."

You completed your training as a cutting machine operator specialising in grinding technology. What gave you the idea? Were you always interested in craftsmanship and technical subjects?

BB: Yes, I always enjoyed this. My parents used to have a tractor. I preferred changing the oil on the tractor to playing with Barbies. This suited me much better. I was never particularly interested in make-up and clothes. It was the same during training. Early in the morning I put on my oil-smeared clothes – and that was always OK.

You started in Assembly and completed your training as a team coordinator there. What happened next?

BB: When I started in Assembly in 2004, I soon applied for the position as team coordinator and completed a two-year in-house training course there. This was followed by training as a foreman, which I also successfully completed. After the master craftsman training, I applied for a position in plastics production because they were looking for a shift manager. And I got the job.

How does this actually play out in practical terms when you work on a shift? How can you also complete training?

BB: When I was doing the master craftsman training, I received specific support from Gira. At that time I was still working in Assembly, working on both early and late shifts, in alternating weeks. For the three and a half years during which I attended the school, I was allowed to work only on early shifts. This enabled me to go to the college for master craftsmen twice during the week and on Saturday.

These three and a half years must have been very tiring.

BB: Yes, it wasn't easy as a single parent to persevere with three and half years of night school alongside work. In addition, the tasks at Gira kept on growing, as I was a team coordinator, first as a specialist supervisor, then later as a disciplinary supervisor. After just under three years I thought: now it's time to finish school and pass the exam. For at some point you can't do it any more. But I am also prepared to keep on learning. I want to start it again soon.

Biljana Branisavljevic-Sovic's 14-year old daughter is the centre of her life. She draws strength from the time with her and their dog.

You can see from her CV that she always wanted more than just a secure job at Gira. Why do you always push yourself?

BB: I need change, I love learning and achieving new goals. I am not that old yet, I have a few years until I retire. I notice it already: The more further training I complete, the more new stuff I learn, the better chance I have of achieving something in life.

You were supported by Gira during your further training. What did this involve?

BB: In the team coordinator training I told the head of training that I wanted to attend the college for master craftsmen at a later date. I asked myself how that would be received in the company if I said that I still wanted to carry on learning. At some point the training manager put pressure on and said: Now go to the HR department and don't just ask for it, but tell them that you want to do it now. I did just that and it was well received. I submitted an application. Then Gira supported me financially during the training to the tune of 80 percent. I clarified with my colleagues in the segment how we would organise the shifts. Because I couldn't work the late shift any more. My supervisor agreed. And then this was possible.

You spend your free time with your daughter and your dog. Does your daughter already have an idea of what she would like to do in the future?

BB: Yes, she would like to study mechanical engineering later. And she wants to be CEO at Gira.

What gave her the idea? Do you tell her a lot about your work?

BB: Of course I do. We talk about everything, about work of course and that I enjoy it. If I ever urgently need some time for my private life, then that is also possible. For example, if my little girl has an important appointment coming up or someone rings from school and I have to pick my daughter up. No-one has ever said: No, that's not possible. I get the support when I need it. And my daughter is also aware of that. She would like to work at Gira some day. She can hardly wait to have a holiday job here some day.

You intend to also continue with further training in future. Where do you see yourself in a few years?

BB: I have decided to begin a part-time university course this September, to run concurrently with my job. I would like to study business psychology. I can't yet answer where I see myself in a few years. I'll let myself be surprised. I think that all doors are open at Gira.



At Gira since

Cutting machine operator specialising in grinding technology

Career at Gira
She began working at Gira in Assembly in 2004 and became a team coordinator after completing in-house training. She soon began to attend the college for master craftsmen alongside her work and successfully completed her training as a metal foreman at the end of 2010. In March 2012 she was appointed shift manager in plastics production at Gira

[Last updated: 2014]

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