Our graduate Michael Tarmastin started working for Infineon Technologies Austria AG (Infineon Austria) as an industrial trainee while he was still studying for his Bachelor’s degree in Information Management. He was offered the opportunity to write his diploma thesis there and to take up a full-time position. As a Senior Operations Manager at Infineon in Villach he is now responsible for 120 employees and he talks to us about regarding the Welcome Days as the launch pad for an unforgettable time at university and the responsibility he now bears for his department.
What drew you to the University of Klagenfurt initially?
In 2005, I started both my job as an industrial trainee at Infineon in Villach and my studies in Klagenfurt at virtually the same time. The degree programme in Information Management was very appealing to me in terms of content and was also easy to combine with my working hours. This allowed me to gain valuable work experience while I was still studying.
Tell us about a memorable experience during your time as a student.
The Welcome Days. This is where I met fellow students who I spent the rest of my studies with and who I still keep in close contact with today. I wasn’t really expecting that. Lots of people advised me to “go to the Welcome Days, the fellow students you meet there will stay with you for life!” It really did work out that way, and I’m very glad about that. As a result, my circle of friends in Klagenfurt grew.
If you were to study again, you would … definitely study in Klagenfurt once more.
Were there moments or people during your time as a student that had a lasting impact on you?
As I was saying, this certainly includes my fellow students whom I met at the Welcome Days. We were a well-coordinated team, attended courses together, studied for and took exams together. We always supported and motivated each other.
You started working at Infineon Austria while you were still pursuing your Bachelor’s degree. How did you manage to reconcile working and studying?
It was very easy to combine the two. Infineon is very supportive of employees who want to continue their education while working, and I can’t remember a single day when the two were not compatible. Because I always needed to plan my course schedule very carefully, it worked out very well. Even when I was travelling a lot for work, especially in German-speaking countries.
How did your journey at Infineon Austria evolve?
I started as an industrial trainee working two days a week in 2005. It didn’t take long, then it was three days. Later, I was invited to write my diploma thesis at Infineon, on the topic of basic data comparison between Villach, Regensburg in Germany and Kulim in Malaysia. When that was completed, I started my full-time job at Infineon in Villach in 2012. During these years, my responsibilities underwent a considerable change as well. Initially, I was responsible for the establishment of the basic data. I acted as an interface between the process technology and the EDP software and transferred process steps into the basic data system that existed at the time. In other words, I wrote the blueprints for microchips. My supervisor at the time recognised and nurtured my potential and I was soon responsible for logistics concepts between Europe and Asia. I worked as an interface with the IT department and helped to develop software and adapt it to the production in Villach. Since 2017, I have been working as a senior manager in our factory and am responsible for 120 employees. I manage the operational part of a process area – a job that is very much driven by metrics, but for me personally, people represent the primary success factor. I am in constant contact with production management, maintenance, process technology and line control, and am responsible for quality and performance targets, the continuous improvement process, change management and also for succession planning in my department, further development and training of my employees, mentoring and coaching.
What do you find most fascinating about your job?
Working with a wide range of people. Motivating them to develop and achieve goals together, but also to conduct critical conversations and offer praise. It is precisely the high level of diversity at Infineon that is fascinating; people from over 70 nations work at Infineon Austria. Diversity yields different perspectives, and I see this advantage quite clearly in my department. I am also proud to have a balanced number of women and men in my department. This is very important to me, especially in a profession that is generally still dominated by men. Diversity, be it in terms of gender, culture or nationality, plays an important role in my opinion, especially during the decision-making phase. I think that knowing all sides and all points of view is an important factor.
What still connects you to the university today?
The friendships that developed back then and fellow students who have since become work colleagues.
What advice would you give to students today?
It is very important to gain practical experience while you are still studying. I was able to incorporate many situations from practice into my studies and thus gained a better understanding of the theory. But the same is true the other way round: I can use what I learned at university as an important foundation in my job today. The combination of studying and relevant practical experience is consequently a very purposeful and rewarding path in my view.