Steffen Edinger shares his visions for the future of SafeLane's German business unit and explains how the company supports jobs for refugees.
Meet SafeLane GmbH Managing Director Steffen Edinger
This week’s staff spotlight focuses on Steffen Edinger, Managing Director of SafeLane’s German business units.
Steffen shares his visions for the future, how he plans to grow the German business unit post-coronavirus, and support jobs for refugees by empowering them to feel confident about integrating.
How long have you been working for SafeLane and what did you do before joining the team?
I’ve been with SafeLane Global GmbH since 1st September 2018, so coming up to a year and a half now.
Before joining, I worked for a mining company in West Africa and Sierra Leone.
This sounds quite different to explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) – how did this role prepare you for your work with SafeLane?
I have a project management background. At SafeLane the content of my work is different – but the processes, procedures and methodologies come from the same toolbox. Resource management, which is an area of my expertise, is a crucial skill for my role.
In my previous role, part of my job involved me owning the corporate responsibility side of things. Obviously, working in Africa means this goes hand in hand with things you can offer the local community. I’ve worked on famine, healthcare and schooling projects for communities.
These projects have given me very useful, cross transferable skills.
Why did you decide to apply for a job at SafeLane?
First of all I applied to an advertisement on Headhunter. The company name wasn’t actually mentioned. What caught my attention is the job description said this role was a mix of commercial skills and humanitarian work. Having this blended focus ensures that the work is substantial and has a real impact, so I knew I wanted to apply.
Then it was also a decision based on the people I met during the interviews – they live the values and culture I appreciate where individuals are respected and supported to grow according to their personal needs and goals.
What is the favourite part of your job?
Definitely dealing with the people. In Germany, SafeLane is overcoming a generation change in the field. We have a lot of employees who have spent their careers developing a huge amount of knowledge, and they are now getting ready to retire. It is essential that this knowledge is transferred to the new generation of employees.
The market is tight, and we have limited resources. So, we need to ensure new starters have excellent training and that we continue to support them to develop their skill set within this industry. We take this on a case by case basis. We have an accredited training plan which is continuously updated, we work to ensure that everyone is working to SafeLane standards.
Currently, the global community is focused on fighting coronavirus. How are you dealing with the pandemic?
We have taken all measures to protect our people. For example, we postponed the regular key senior staff meetings at a very early stage – we have equipped all staff with disinfectants as well, and issued behavioural rules to keep them and those around them safe.
Fortunately enough, our projects are widely spread which is ensuring the required safety distance between employees naturally; also most of our staff are working outdoors and often in forested, restricted, isolated areas or even underwater.
So, on the one hand, we can make sure that they keep the required distance apart from each other. On the other hand, we are able to continue most of our operations at the moment.
What is your long-term vision for SafeLane, Germany?
For us it’s very clear, we want to improve our market reputation and service capacity to become the market leader in the EOD space for both land and marine operations.
Currently, we’re stronger on the land side of things so marine is a focus. There are also huge opportunities with steel water works and diving works, our second service capacity.
There is a huge demand in the market. This is a great objective that I am proud to be working towards.
How will SafeLane Germany work towards that?
Our big, big, big focus is recruitment! This means we have to attract talent to our company in an area where the German economy is very strong and there is high competition for talent. Our industry is not necessarily the highest payer in comparison to other industries like construction- however, we need to let people know that EOD work provides excellent job security, that there is a future here for them, and that we are a great employer.
At the same time, we must make sure new recruits are properly integrated in the company and trained well so that they can build up their skills.
Last year, we hired 50 people and integrated them into the company effectively and smoothly. We are working to create training processes that support them on an ongoing basis.
Growth also will be achieved through mergers and acquisitions. We’re always trying to identify potential partners to work with on both long- and short-term bases.
What sort of people are you looking for to join the team and help you turn this vision into reality?
We are looking for really driven people who are excited by the challenges the transition period brings. We want enthusiasm and positive attitudes.
For our current employees, we want to encourage them to step outside the box and see what can be done differently to reach our goals and get closer to this idea of being a family and supporting each other.
How are you supporting intercultural integration?
I am proud to say, this is where we’re leaders within the industry. We want to integrate people from other cultural backgrounds within our company culture. This opens doors to other talents and skills that we may otherwise miss out on.
This approach also enables us to support refugees. Germany has been a focus when it comes to migration. At SafeLane, we are doing all we can to support the integration of people who have come to Germany. We have, for example, employees from Syria and Turkey. We will support anyone who is willing to learn the German language and who wants to integrate themselves.
This links to my previous work in Africa, where we empowered people to take initiative and develop crucial drive, motivation, and willingness. People who want to integrate into the SafeLane culture can have the opportunity to do this.
If language is a barrier, we need to see some self-initiative from people who want to join us. They need to learn the German language. We require a B2 Level at least. From there, we will support them further with the development of their language skills with on the job learning and by arranging additional language lessons as needed.
We work on a case by case basis and provide the appropriate level of support for each individual.