“I often don’t know what to expect the next morning!”
At the age of 17 Vikas Shambhalwal came to Austria from India. He quickly found his professional home at MGG Polymers, which he no longer wants to miss. In our MGG relay interview, the head of electrical engineering reveals the reasons for this and much more.
Mr. Shambhalwal, you have now been working for MGG Polymers for eleven years. How did it come about that you started here in 2009?
Vikas Shambhalwal: After my apprenticeship at the HTL technical school for electrical engineering in Waidhofen I was looking for work. Of course I wanted to stay close by and so I looked around for a job in the area. So it was a good thing that Polymers had just been looking for a shift supervisor.
That means you started in production?
Vikas Shambhalwal: Yes, I did shift work here at the plant for about a year and a half of. This work is really exhausting – especially the night shifts have been very hard on me. I am definitely not a night owl, I just need my sleep at night. From my point of view, luck was on my side again: after the departure of the head of the electrical department, Robert Pörner, this position had to be filled again. I was subsequently approached by the management and was asked me whether I could imagine taking on this job. I accepted immediately, without thinking twice. For me there was simply not much to think about – this was my chance to do what I like to do.
What are your specific responsibilities as head of electronics here at the MGG Polymers plant?
Vikas Shambhalwal: The most important work is to fix malfunctions in the electronics of the equipment – after all, it is essential for the company that the equipment is working at full capacity. These malfunctions can of course be quite different with the large number of machines. Furthermore, new pieces of equipment have to be installed and commissioned and existing equipment needs to be improved and rebuilt again and again. There are also a lot of things to do all around – apart from servicing and repair work, there also is some office work, such as ordering of goods that must also be done and this can be immediately followed by laying cables again afterwards. It is simply a very varied task that is absolutely tailored to my interests.
Sounds like you have found your calling…
Vikas Shambhalwal: Yes, you could say that. Because I am also a real hobbyist in my spare time. At home I work on devices that I then use myself. At MGG Polymers, these skills have always been supported and encouraged from the very beginning – by the management, the production crew, and my colleagues. There are probably many other companies that simply dispose of equipment when something is no longer working properly. Here I get the opportunity to repair these things in the electrical workshop. Often it is small things that can be easily and quickly straightened, and the device works perfectly again subsequently. In my view, this is sustainability in action – and I really enjoy this work. If I have a bad day, all I have to do is go to the electronics workshop, sit down to work and my day is saved.
You can really feel the joy in the varied work. Is there a typical daily or weekly schedule for you at all?
Vikas Shambhalwal: No, every day is different. I often cannot tell the day before what to expect the next morning. This is especially true after the weekend.
You say that you often don’t know what to expect – what was it like when you came to Austria from India as a youngster in 2002? Did you know what to expect then?
Vikas Shambhalwal: Since my father had lived and worked in Austria since 1991, I knew a little bit of what life here is or could be like from his descriptions. But of course it was a huge change – especially the German language is not that easy. I often cheated my way through at the beginning with English.
Anyway, you speak excellent German now…
Vikas Shambhalwal: Thank you – but I often notice myself that in the middle of a sentence I can’t think of a certain word and I suddenly get stuck. However, it helped that our family in Austria had to speak German immediately, because we didn’t know anyone here who spoke Indian. So I learned German relatively quickly. I am very grateful to my work colleagues that they also always help me when I say something wrong. It is important to me that I am corrected because this is the only way to learn and do it right.
So you feel you are in good hands with MGG Polymers?
Vikas Shambhalwal: Definitely! The working atmosphere is wonderful. I get on well with everyone at the factory – and I hope that the reverse is also true and that people appreciate me and my work. In any case, I try to respond to the concerns of all colleagues and help them as much as I can.
Last question: What do you expect or hope for your future – professionally and privately?
Vikas Shambhalwal: As in my daily work, I simply let myself be surprised what the future will bring. I hope I will enjoy my work for a long time to come. Privately, I’m sure things will change soon: On the one hand, I am building a house and in the summer my daughter will be born.
Then we wish you and your family all the best and may you continue to maintain your enthusiasm for your work. Many thanks for the interview!