Some apparent opposites I’m happy with:

  • Science ↔︎ Language
    I represent a pretty rare combination of scientific and language expertise. I can take subject matter from research and technology and express it in a form that is correct, precise, readable, easy to understand and a little bit friendly, too.
  • German ↔︎ English
    I’m from Ireland, but the German language has been present in my family since my childhood. I spent the first 27 years of my life in English-speaking countries and now I have been living in German-speaking countries for over 30 years, and counting. I can speak and write in both languages at a professional level, with ‘clarity and grace’ (to borrow a phrase), in full control of style and tone and always with a strong orientation towards the particular audience and the goals of each specific communicative task.
  • Experts ↔︎ Beginners
    A thing that I particularly love doing, and also do very well, is getting deep into a specialist subject area and then developing materials that present and explain that subject matter to beginners or outsiders.
  • Teacher ↔︎ Learner
    I love teaching and coaching, preferably one-to-one or in small groups where we can keep the interaction in a dialogic mode. But I also greatly enjoy the role of a learner, including being a beginner. It’s the personal teacher-learner interaction that I like, from either side. Subjects in which I am experienced as a trainer are sailing (with children), speaking English (with adults), scientific writing (with researchers), technical writing (with students of software development) and cycling in street traffic (with children). I particularly enjoy working as a cycling teacher also because of the teamwork. We always work in pairs and the interaction with my partners while we are both working with a group of children is wonderful. Communicating in a few words or gestures, improvising within a shared training concept, reflecting together on how and why we do things in certain ways; helping each other out, ideally getting into a flow together. I haven’t had another job where I regularly get to ride home in such a euphoric state.
  • Engineering ↔︎ Marketing
    I am of the firm opinion that the best way to sell technical ideas and products is through stories that grow out of their inner technical logic. An essential part of this is of course translating features into benefits. But trying to project importance and expertise on the one hand, and trying to dress the product up in some kind of marketing language that’s extraneous to its technical function are, in my opinion, things best avoided – in English more so than in German. And I confess I am often frustrated with the usual role separation I encounter in companies here between engineering people and marketing people. I’m here to bridge that gap.
  • Lone nerd ↔︎ Team member
    The research scientist mentality is strong with me. I can work away at a project completely alone for long periods. I can spend years developing ideas. I can spend days writing quietly in my home office and am happy doing it. (Although let’s not forget that my text work is actually about reaching out to people.) But, and I don’t experience this in the least as a contradiction, I need good people around me like a drink of water. I like to think, and I believe it’s usually true, that people in teams experience me as a decent, sympathetic, friendly and reliable colleague. The ideal workplace for me has people from diverse backgrounds, roughly equal numbers of women and men in all roles, especially in leadership, and is a place where we all reflect critically on the conscious and unconscious, structural and personal things that might be in the way of everyone being, and feeling, equal. I’m not perfect but (as an old straight white guy) I know the direction I want to be headed in.