People + Places

It’s all in how you set your sails

MURAT ASLANDAG

When asked about his favorite quote, as an avid sailor Murat didn’t hesitate. “You cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can set your sails right.” And he was quick to explain. “There will always be obstacles, but if you reset your sails you can set your direction and you’ll get to where you want to go.”

Murat and his two brothers were all born in Duisburg, Germany. They sail together in the summers and snowboard in the winters. “Even with all of life’s distractions, we make time to get together a couple of times each year to do these activities.”

Murat’s first assignment with Siemens Gas Turbine Services division began after he completed the company’s co-op program while studying at the University of Applied Sciences Gelsenkirchen, and Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey. He feels fortunate to have found Siemens and becoming part of this industry through this co-op opportunity.

“I was encouraged to go abroad to learn, gain new experiences, and improve my English. I learned early on how great a global network is and how diverse the experience can be. Jobs in Services or Project Management are welcoming opportunities for a young engineer to see the world. I was fortunate to be part of a Greenfield project in Uzbekistan, and had a six-month assignment with Siemens Energy in Orlando, Florida. The people in the Orlando office were great. I didn’t want to go back home!”

One of the facets Murat finds most rewarding about working in this industry is its tangibility. “You have this visible success at the end. As a project manager, you see the equipment running on site. You’re getting positive feedback from your client and it’s so motivating. And if you’re on a site, like I am now here in Leipzig, it’s incredibly rewarding to watch the equipment ship from the factory.”

Murat’s last assignment made his decision to step into the role as Head of Leipzig Operations in early October 2016 a difficult one. He loved what he was doing as a senior project manager for large scale complex compressor package projects at the company’s Duisburg site.

“We engineers thrive on solving complex technical issues that clients bring to us. I was managing a large project from Siemens compression business with two O&G powerhouse clients. I had a great relationship with the clients and it was difficult to leave that project and hand it over to someone else at the end of September.”

But he did. He’s ready for the next chapter. The Leipzig Operations has a century-old track record of supplying compressors all over the world for the oil and gas industry, chemical and petrochemical production plants, and for metal processing. In 2006, Siemens AG took over the Leipzig facility that was previously owned by Kuhnle, Kopp and Kausch AG. Today, the Operation manufactures and services engineered to- order geared and centrifugal multi-stage turbo compressors.

One new thing Murat faces as Head of Leipzig Operations is the expectations of 200+ employees and the Dresser-Rand business’ leadership team. “They look to me to make the right decisions and to run a successful operation.”

In his new role, Murat must set the Operation’s strategy – one that is in tune with the Dresser-Rand business strategy and contributes to the company’s overall objectives of operational excellence, increased productivity and profitable growth. “The local leadership team must set the direction and explain where we are going. It’s important to communicate with employees so they know the company’s objectives and understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

When it comes to management style, Murat prefers to lead by example. He wants to ensure Leipzig Operations has the right skills and the right tools in place to accomplish the work they need to do.”We must set our sails in the direction we want to go and then adjust them as needed to meet our commitments.”

He looks forward to working with his colleagues throughout the worldwide Dresser-Rand business. “I want to share with them our experiences and learn from theirs. When you have a large network to rely on and you get to work with other colleagues around the globe, the team spirit and collaboration can be extremely rewarding.”

Murat recalls one particularly challenging assignment which he also terms his “best.” He was part of a Project Management team responsible for extended scope projects, and they were working on a contract with tough penalty clauses that included hardware, installation, commissioning, and bringing the unit into full operation at a compressor station in Germany.

“The site manager had recently retired and I had to decide if I should bring someone new in to manage the project, or decide if my team and I could handle it. There was still more than half a year’s worth of work to do on site. My team and I decided to manage the project through to completion. I had a great working relationship with the customer.

This project allowed me to see, firsthand, what it means to earn a client’s loyalty for life. And that is so important to me. The direct client feedback on site is irreplaceable. When issues arose, someone would literally walk up to my office and knock, or just walk right in and say “hey guys, look what’s happening.” And we solved the issues together, right there on site. I learned so much. And it taught me to do my best to make those on my team understand just how important it is to understand the needs of our clients. It can make all the difference whether or not they will choose us for their next project.”

That project reminds me, in fact, of one of my favorite lines from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. It goes: “…there was a language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”

Murat explained how that way of thinking continues to motivate him – not only professionally, but personally.

“I firmly believe that whatever you do, if you do it with enthusiasm and with passion, and with a lot of energy, you can achieve it. As simple as the story line is, that novel packs so much passion about the power of our dreams, listening to your heart, and overcoming any obstacle you encounter to reach an end goal.” ▪

other articles from insights issue 12.2016