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    Backstage
    First woman to serve as a site manager at Krones
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    30. September 2021
    6:15 min.
    Woman power in a male-dominated field: Premwadee Mongkolnam is the only woman to serve as a site manager at Krones – and she masters her job with great success.
    • Waan assumed responsibility for her first site in January 2021 and supervised the commissioning and installation of two lines at the same time.

    For a little more than five years, Premwadee Mongkolnam has been member of Krones’ service team in the Asia-Pacific region. “I love travelling, meeting new people, and getting to know new cultures”, she says about herself. The best prerequisites for a job in service then!

    The lively Thai, who is known as “Waan” among her colleagues and customers, studied economics and spent two years in Belgium. In search of new challenges, she started working for Krones Thailand in 2016 as a site secretary, where she supported site managers in the Asia-Pacific region.

    “I don’t like desk work“ 

    Thus, she got her first taste of on-site work and discovered that she enjoyed bringing all the threads together at the customer’s plant and supporting the installation, commissioning, and acceptance of new lines. Her bosses, Eric Coevoet and Aditep Kongdee, soon realised that Waan has what it takes to be a site manager. “My professional background is in economics and economic management – but to be honest: I don’t like desk work. That’s why this job on-site is perfect for me”, explains Waan. 

    After having demonstrated her abilities in a number of smaller projects, she took on full responsibility for her first larger site, in Cambodia, in January 2021, where she supervised the commissioning of a complete line. Waan’s tasks as a site manager include project planning, communication with customers, coordination of the site, and the organisation of the team. In short: She makes sure that the project runs smoothly and that all parties involved are satisfied. 

    But there is one thing she still has to do: “Normally, there is a theoretical training, which I could not complete yet because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But I hope that I can add that last piece to the jigsaw in 2022.” 

    A woman who loves challenges

    Usually installation and commissioning take four to six months, depending on their scope and complexity. Then it is normally time to pack one’s bags again and move on to the next customer. But Waan will stay at this site in Cambodia for while longer. Since the commissioning of the first line there went smoothly, she was given responsibility for a second line, which is now being installed in the neighbouring hall.

    Up until now, her work at Krones has taken Waan to customers in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines. As a site manager, she is responsible not only for the project itself but also for taking care of the team on-site, which can consist of three to ten people depending on the scope of the line. Waan says: “As far as I know, I am the only woman at Krones who works in this position. It’s a good change and it’s also a challenge – but I love challenges.” 

    “Thinking and acting like a team is most important”

    In the following interview, Waan talks about her work as site manager and about often being the only woman among men. 

    Article 25917
    Premwadee Mongkolnam is known to all by her nickname “Waan“.

    Waan, you always seem to be in a good mood. What do you like most about your job?

    I like that it never gets boring. I always change projects and travel to different sites. That change of working place is really exciting and it allows me to not only meet new people, but also get to know new cultures and their food.

    And on the other hand, what is the most stressful part about your job?

    Well, I’m mostly handling new machine projects – and the schedule is always tight. If you start out going 100 kilometres per hour, you will have to keep up this speed until you cross the finish line. Last year, our schedule was especially packed: because of Covid, travelling was almost impossible, especially for my colleagues from Europe. So, in the Asia-Pacific region, we had to cover all the projects ourselves and therefore had to quickly change between sites. To be honest, this was quite exhausting. But we always have fun and that makes up for the more stressful days.

    As a site manager you are responsible for your team on-site. Do you have a ‘recipe’ for keeping morale high and keeping everyone motivated?

    In my opinion, thinking and acting like a team is most important. I usually try to hear my colleagues’ opinions before I make any decision. This is probably one of the reasons why we work together so well. I want to know their opinion before I answer the customer, for example, because I think that is respectful to the team. Of course, this is not always possible because I also have to execute things that have been decided from above. But in general, I want them to know that their opinions are appreciated.

    I usually try to hear my colleagues’ opinions before I make any decision. Erwin HächlPremwadee „Waan” MongkolnamKrones site manager from Thailand

    Article 25914
    Waan and “her” on-site team

    Most site managers and service engineers are men. Is it difficult for you to work in such a male-dominated, technical field?

    I would say that there are some factors that make the job tougher for women. Especially in the beginning, you have to prove yourself a little bit more. Some of your colleagues might want to test you a bit at first, but if you know that, you will be fine. 

    Since I don’t have a technical background, I was nervous to start the job. But my boss and all my colleagues gave me confidence. They are very lovely, they really take care of me and they respect my work. My German colleagues are very nice and polite and sometimes almost overprotective, as well. 

    All in all, we are a great team. We respect each other and our work and everyone on the team is very professional. I definitely trust my colleagues. And ultimately, we all are not only colleagues but also friends.

    And have you ever had negative experiences from the customer side? Do they respect you like your colleagues do?

    I’ve never had bad experiences, neither in Malaysia, Thailand nor in Cambodia or the Philippines. The customers see that we as a team work well together. Our professionalism and respect for each other gives confidence to the costumer, as well. I never had a problem. And to be honest, it sometimes is easier for a woman to accomplish things, because for example because we’re often more willing to reason with people instead of simply insisting on things. But sometimes you also have to show your tough side to achieve your goals.

    Do you have any tips for women who want to work in technical fields as well – as a service technician or even as a site manager at some point?

    From my view – with a background in economics – I would say it is all about your interests. I really enjoy my work and I am excited and eager to learn. Because, to be honest, even if you studied mechatronics or electrics, working in this special field of manufacturing always means that there is a lot which you don’t know yet. So it’s all about collaborating closely, being trained on the machines and gaining experience in the field. I learned from the site manager and engineers I was on-site with. I think the most important factor for success for women working in the technical field is to have motivation for your work.

    Of course, work is not everything. What do you usually do on your days off?

    Very girly things – pedicure, manicure, shopping. We as colleagues spend so much time together. We eat together, we always go out together – and I am the only woman. So, the whole team knows that on Sundays I take some time for myself to do the things I otherwise don’t have time to do.

    30. September 2021
    6:15 min.

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