Success stories /
Success stories - Marina Petkun

Marina Petkun, R&D specialist (Hamburg, Germany)

Marina, please tell us about the first steps of your career at the company. 

I started my professional career in 1998 when immediately after my graduation I came to work at the Reemtsma-Kyiv Tobacco Factory. During the first five years, I worked as an Interpreter Assistant. At the time, everything was new, unusual and interesting because all the directors were German "expatriates" who worked in Ukraine. They taught me the German approach to doing business and talked about living and working in Germany. I could not even imagine then that after a while, I would be working in the country of my "teachers".

Why did you decide to participate in the international career development programme?

Before taking part in the programme, I worked in the Product Development Department. We cooperated closely with the central Product Development Department, which is located in Hamburg. I took part in the international meetings, seminars, and training events, and got acquainted with many colleagues from a number of different countries. At the same time, our company started implementing various programmes for employees who would like to gain experience in other markets. So I thought, ‘Why shouldn’t I try? After all, it is so interesting!’ 

I guess you are a very motivated person?

Maybe. I believe that you should just set yourself an objective, work hard on its achievement and wait for the opportune moment. The opportune moment came to me when a vacancy of an analyst of non-tobacco products was announced in the Product Development Department of the Central office. It was a great opportunity for me because, first of all, I could try my hand at the international level and not lose the relationship with my colleagues from the Product Development Department in Kyiv. I passed the interview successfully and was assigned to work in Hamburg where I moved in October last year.

Was it difficult to drop everything and to move to another country? Did you feel the support of your colleagues?

To be honest, it was not easy but thanks to the support of my colleagues I managed to do it. I remember when I arrived at the office, came to my workspace and saw that my computer was decorated with colourful ribbons; there were a variety of candies and sweets on the table, a beautiful bunch of flowers in the vase and a huge card with the inscription, ‘Marina, welcome to Hamburg.’ It was so pleasant, so unexpected and beautiful that I could hardly hold back my tears... At that moment, I wanted to see my mother so much, to be in the office in Kyiv, to see my friends and colleagues, to hear how they spent their week-end, and to share my news with them! But there were now other, new faces around. Fortunately, my German colleagues helped me overcome the feeling of loneliness quickly, adapt to the new environment, and feel a member of their team. I do not at all regret coming to work in Hamburg because I can always feel their kindness towards me. At any moment, I can count on their friendly advice and assistance not only concerning professional matters but also in everyday life, for which I am very grateful to them.

How do you like Hamburg — have you established yourself easily in this city?

My new colleagues helped me get to know the new city by telling me every day about the interesting things that happen in Hamburg, and they invited me to dinner at the week-ends. They were also tolerant to the fact that I do not know German perfectly, therefore, they mainly speak English in my presence, although every morning begins with an exchange of phrases in German because they really want to help me to master the language.

Please tell us about your current job. What projects are you responsible for now?

At present, I am responsible for all projects regarding non-tobacco products, which are developed and launched in the markets of Eastern Europe, America and some countries in Africa. This work is very interesting, I am completely absorbed by it and do not notice how time flies. Furthermore, I am always up-to-date with the launches of new products, the design changes and the introduction of innovative products in the markets, for which I am responsible. The work with non-tobacco products includes studying the characteristics of each product, familiarisation with the manufacturing processes and with the capabilities of each supplier, as well as a large number of business trips to different countries.

What are your plans for career development in the future?

It’s currently hard to say how my career will develop, after all, not much time has passed since my arrival in Hamburg. Nevertheless, our company offers great opportunities for all those who want to try working in another area or even in another country. I am always ready to broaden my horizons!