B Yourself: Marcel Syrowatka

B-Yourself - MarcelName: Marcel Syrowatka

Age: 28

Hometown:  Lueneburg, Germany

Occupation: Manager of Operations at BLG Logistics, Inc.

Languages: German, English, French and Spanish

What brings you to Birmingham?

During a one-year scholarship program from the German Bundestag, I worked as an intern for BLG Logistics Inc. at their Headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. Since the both of us liked the work performed, I was offered a position as project manager in Vance, Ala. My dream was to work and live in the United States since I was a little boy, so I took the offer and moved to Birmingham. In addition to that, I like my Southern Belle; this is what probably keeps me here.

Tell us about the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals and how you were selected out of 4,000 candidates?

It is a fellowship funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Congress that annually provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries. Being tasked to help build the bridges between these two cultures, the so called “Junior Ambassadors” need to go through a lengthy six-month application and interview process proving their social, intellectual, and political skills in order to get selected.

How is work, life, and culture here compared to Germany?

I nicely describe it as the “Alabama factor.” People are more laid back than in Germany, which took me a while to get used to. A lot of fried food–where I needed to change my workout patterns–and people are way friendlier than in Germany, but this was, on the other hand, easy to get used to.

What do you miss about Germany?

Homecooked meals and German beer. Although, Birmingham has some good local beer to offer.

Tell us more about Alabama-Germany Partnership?

The Alabama-Germany Partnership is a non-profit organization that develops and supports relationships and friendships between organizations and individuals with ties to Alabama and Germany. They also increase and improve business opportunities and foster cultural exchange.

What special skills/experience do you bring to Alabama?

The German discipline, the pursuit to perfection and the German education.

After working as an intern for BLG, Logistics you were quickly moved up into a much higher responsibility within. Can you share the reason for such a big promotion?

Being at the right place, at the right time and working hard. Like my father used to say, “Envy has to be earned. Pity is free.”

What is your biggest achievement and future achievements you hope to attain?

The big accomplishment was that I was able to adapt to the different culture here in the Southern U.S., but the biggest achievement is yet to come. Managers shouldn’t manage, they should lead, and my goal is it to further advance the operations including the workforce and myself a little more every day.

Interview and photograph by Angela Karen

*The answers to these questions are the opinions of the interviewee, and not those of BLG Logistics, Inc.

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