Bianca Reeb

For some, it is a well-intentioned resolution, others directly turn the resolution into reality. We are talking about social commitment abroad. Our colleague Bianca Reeb made her wish come true. She spent two months in Kenya supporting a social project there.

Bianca Reeb has wanted to go abroad again and work there for some time. Her goal has been to make a social commitment. But how could she make it work when she has a full-time job and team responsibility for two employees? At some point she got up the nerve and spoke to her supervisor about it. "It took a lot of courage to ask because I didn't want it to have a negative impact on my career", says Reeb, who is responsible for supplier and license management at Bilfinger Global IT. She was therefore pleasantly surprised when the reaction to her request was extremely positive.

"Management at Global IT has given me their full support", reports Bianca Reeb happily. There were, of course, still a lot of things to be arranged prior to the trip. Among other things, a temporary replacement was organized who would assume Reeb's tasks during her absence. Cooperation with the HR department regarding the planned leave of absence proved to be uncomplicated. In the selection of the project, it was important to Reeb that she commit herself to an area where she could contribute her IT knowledge. The right project was quickly found and was set up by an external organization.

In March and April, Bianca Reeb then worked in both Nairobi and a more remote location in western Kenya - a five-hour drive from Nairobi. The company that she worked for distributes gas, solar systems as well as cooking and household goods. Her main tasks were to optimize the sales and delivery processes for these goods and to evaluate a suitable software program to better manage the inventory - including market analysis, discussions with the suppliers and final product recommendation.

Back in Mannheim, Reeb looks back on her time in Kenya with satisfaction. "It was an unbeatable experience. After a trip like that, you really appreciate how good we have it here in terms of infrastructure and living standards. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who is interested in other cultures and would like to contribute to society."

3 questions for Bianca Reeb

What did your workplace look like?

I worked at a so-called "co-working space" in Nairobi. We shared the office with other small start-up companies - this meant that it was relatively easy to make contacts. It was really interesting to see what the other companies were doing. With my job, I was able to work very independently, but I exchanged information and ideas on a regular basis with the management of the company I was working for. The work in the rural area was totally different. We greeted the working day together in the garden with a nice ritual called "dancing for a reason". I was able to accompany the Sales Manager on her sales appointments and thus gained real insights into life in the countryside (and, unfortunately, also the poverty there).

How was it to come back to work in Germany?

It was surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of things here. Following a handover and a talk with my Managing Director, I managed to get right back into the issues at hand. It was possible for me to continue right where I had left off. I also realized again that the attitude toward work in general is very different here than in Africa. Meetings were sometimes very drawn out there - things that are quickly dealt with here are discussed at great detail for a long time there. There the clock moves a little bit slower and things are not as organized as they are here.

What impressed you most about your stay?

I met very nice people who were always willing to help. I was also impressed by the international atmosphere in Nairobi. A lot young people work in the international NGOs. I was also surprised about how widespread and integrated mobile devices and apps are. In areas without sufficient infrastructure I had better reception than in Mannheim. I felt very safe throughout the entire stay. It was a great experience to get to know a country and a people - far away from the usual tourism.

Bianca Reeb, responsible for supplier and license management at Bilfinger Global IT
Bianca Reeb in Nairobi