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Pia Fork – process performance expert at thyssenkrupp Steel

Pia Fork at the SteelCube

Having graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the Ruhr University Bochum, Pia Fork took the plunge into the exciting world of the steel industry and found her way to thyssenkrupp Steel. As a process performance expert, Pia now plays a key role in the field of technical and efficiency optimization in the company's cold rolling mills.

Her work takes her to various locations to analyze production processes, develop innovative solutions and help enhance the quality of our steel products. In the following interview, we learn more about Pia's experiences and her start at thyssenkrupp Steel via the company's trainee program.

General inquiry


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thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse 100

47166 Duisburg, Germany

+49 (0)203 52-0

What does your work involve?

My team and I work in a broad range of activities; our production operations at the various plants and locations involve a wide diversity of process steps, after all. These range from hot strip mills, hot and strip coating plants, cold rolling mills and annealing lines, logistics and maintenance-related topics right through to the development of new apps for production support. And it goes without saying that the green transformation across all process stages is a major and important topic. Our aim is to increase our system availability and product quality through enhanced process efficiency. My own work takes me to our cold rolling mills, where I supervise cross-location projects on various technical topics. I am also frequently one of the first points of contact within Production in matters related to our innovation and research activities.

How did you come to join thyssenkrupp Steel?

I started as an intern. I subsequently wrote my thesis at thyssenkrupp Steel and then really got my teeth into professional life through the trainee program, which I completed at the thyssenkrupp Hohenlimburg subsidiary. At the time, I worked in hot-strip product development there, before moving to my current position in Duisburg at the beginning of 2022.

How is the trainee program organized?

Participants immediately have a permanent position so, right from the outset, they know in which team they work and will be working. This way, they get to know the tasks their work involves directly, and they can immediately get started on a comprehensive familiarization routine. The great thing about our trainee program is that it gives you the opportunity to take a close look at other areas of activity as well. These can include areas with which you are closely associated in any case, in the context of projects, or certain interface areas in which you might want to gain some initial experience. The best part about it is that you get to know the people who work there well, and you also understand how and what is being worked on in other areas. After this 'circulation', you know a lot of people who work at thyssenkrupp Steel, and that makes subsequent cooperation much easier. This gives you a deep understanding of what our company is all about and how everything works hand-in-hand. It is precisely this understanding that cannot be learned at university.

How long does the trainee program take?

All told, you are employed as a trainee for 12 months, including the 3-month probationary period. This provides enough time to become familiar with many areas within the company and to be given intensive training. During this period, you work 40 hours a week and are entitled to 30 days of leave.

What were your highlights in the trainee program?

For me, the best thing about the trainee program is the network that you build through shared training and assignments. I still work with many former trainees today. It's really exciting to see how we are all developing and taking on increasing levels of responsibility.

It's great that the entire trainee program is accompanied by regular feedback discussions: you always have a fixed and central contact person in the Recruiting & Development team. Great importance is placed on personal and individual development, and you definitely don't feel alone or lacking support when you start out on your career.

I was also given the opportunity to take part in various training courses that helped me learn a whole gamut of useful soft skills. This, for example, is an aspect that I personally felt was missing during my studies. The trainee program enabled me to add this area to my skills profile, however.

What does a typical working day look like for you at the moment?

Like so many others, I don't have a typical working day. There are always lots of different activities and projects that I am assigned to. You can roughly say that I spend 60% of my time in the office and 40% directly on the production sites. But that's exactly what makes my work so appealing to me.

Why did you ultimately choose us as your employer?

I am simply fascinated by our production facilities. The logistical and maintenance effort is enormous, and dealing with the temperatures, the huge forces and the material is not easy. I've always been fascinated by the opportunity to learn from and contribute to this. At thyssenkrupp Steel, I simply have many opportunities to get involved, familiarise myself with many areas and master many different challenges.

What makes you representative of #nextgenerationsteel?

It is often said that we are a generation born too late to discover new places on Earth and too early to explore space. In saying that, I am not referring to the characteristic "Generation X, Y, Z" perceptions but very much more to everyone working at Steel. There is so much we can and must do in the here and now. It is impressive to see the resilience and creative energy that we "new kids on the block" are developing. Of course, environmental issues are at the forefront which, quite simply, is hugely important. But there are other topics as well in which we can better ourselves. And identifying, implementing and contributing to these topics is what makes the #nextgenerationsteel movement so special for me.

Did this pique your interest?

If so, become part of the #nextgenerationsteel movement and apply for a place in our trainee program.

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