All under control...Sven Schweinfurth supervises space mission budgets
Sven, why did you join ESA?
I joined ESA in 2007 because I was eager to be part of a multinational environment. At the time I was responsible for the finances of an IT company and when I checked the ESA vacancy notices I saw that ESA was looking for a specialist in resource management, so I applied for this position.
What did you study and what did you have to learn on the job?
I studied business management, majoring in controlling and IT-management. This gave me a good theoretical knowledge on the financial facets of cost accounting and the processes in IT.
Learning the specifics of each company, how it interacts with outside partners and the way it works regarding the legal environment in which it is set, is the practical knowledge I acquired on the job. ESA, with its essential role for space research and industry, gives this an even more unique perspective.
What do you like about the working atmosphere within ESA?
Working together with people from many cultures to achieve one unanimous goal, is what I love about working for ESA. You are surrounded by highly qualified professionals from all over the world striving to get the best result. This can also be very challenging at times, especially when you’re responsible for budgeting the costs, it is however always interesting and inspiring when you see the outcome. Like any job with deadlines, the closer you are to a delivery date the more heated it gets – I find this exciting.
What projects are you involved in, and what is particularly interesting about your work?
My day to day business involves the funding of cost centres such as those of ESA’s tracking station network (ESTRACK) and also financial reporting to management. Like all of my controlling colleagues, we are also heavily involved in adapting the budgeting processes to the new financial framework and financial system ESA has introduced, which is an interesting task. I find it fascinating having to deal with specialists from different business fields from throughout Europe.
Do you have to travel much for your job?
At the moment, I don’t have the need to travel a lot. Thanks to today’s technology it’s only necessary in some rare cases.
How about your work-life balance? Do you also like to spend parts of your free time with ESA colleagues?
I have a young family and like the fact that the area around Darmstadt has an infrastructure that makes it possible to concentrate on the job and also enjoy family life. As the work is demanding, I was searching some time ago for some sports activity and thus became involved with the climbing club at ESOC. This is not only an extremely enjoyable way to free my mind, but more importantly I also get to meet many different people from ESOC and learn more about the things they are doing. That gives me a fascinating insight into fields in which I’m not directly involved in.
What recommendations can you give to students and young graduates if they are interested in working for ESA?
I think you should have a continuous lust for learning new things. ESA is on the forefront of technologies and being part of this is exciting but also requires the best minds. Gaining experience and responsibilities in industry in my field is what helped me but you can also start with involvement in one of the graduate programmes, or keep an eye out for an opportunity with one of the many contracting companies working for ESA. To check out the list of small and medium sized enterprises, just click on http://smed.esa.int/index2.php