Two are better than one

Natalie Rothhaar first fell in love with port logistics while she was working as a hotel professional. So she retrained, this time as a mechatronics engineer at HHLA.

Always outside, working hard physically and as part of a great team – these are the first three things that come to mind for Natalie Rothhaar when she talks about her job as a mechatronics engineer at HHLA. She successfully completed the appropriate training in January. She could never have predicted that she would one day end up in a technical profession. “At 15, I had no idea what I’d like to do some day,” remembers the 23-year-old.

She initially trained as a hotel professional, which she liked just fine at first but later didn’t really enjoy. Because her brother spoke so excitedly about his job in rope-making at HHLA, she decided to take a closer look at the company. “After my two-week internship, it was clear to me what I really wanted to do,” says Rothhaar. “And that has been the best decision of my life so far.”

In the course of her three-and-a-half-year training programme, theoretical knowledge was taught at the vocational school for media and technology in Farmsen. She says she was helped by the fact that she is good with numbers: “At vocational school, about 80 percent of the work was arithmetic. It starts off pretty easy, but the formulas get more and more difficult,” recounts Rothhaar.

The practical training is just as important, of course. Because HHLA doesn’t have its own workshop for apprentices, this part of the training largely takes place at the Hamburg training centre in Langenhorn. “The conditions there are great, and the trainers know exactly what we need for the exams,” says Rothhaar. Some of the skills she learned there are turning, milling and welding – industrial skills that she can use in practice on the job at Burchardkai.

Among other things, the container terminal’s workshop ensures that the equipment required for handling the steel boxes – such as ground-handling vehicles (van carriers) and container gantry cranes – is always ready for use. Rothhaar is enthusiastic when she talks about her job: “The best moment is at sunrise, 60 metres up on a container gantry crane, where you can see the entire harbour all the way to the Elphi.”

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She has especially fond memories of an exchange with female mechatronics engineering trainees from engine manufacturer MTU in Munich. “Those five girls and I spent a week talking about women in technical professions. We thought about the best way to get school-age girls interested in these jobs.” The fact that there have only been nine women in technical jobs at Burchardkai up to now doesn’t put Rothhaar off: in fact, just the opposite: “I think our mixed team is perfect.”

Following her apprenticeship, the avid amateur horseback rider will look after the brakes on the container gantry crane – for example, by measuring reference values and changing pads. She is more than qualified, since, as a mechatronics engineer, she followed up her first qualification as a hotel professional by essentially completing two more training programmes: as an electrician and a mechanic.

Learn more about apprenticeship at HHLA

Published 02/2022