Monika Witt is an enthusiastic advocate of natural refrigerants, not least in her role as Managing Director of a long-established German refrigeration company and board member of eurammon. We spoke to her about her motivation, her role in the family-run business and why we need a reality-check for safety regulations.
WITT is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year - first of all, congratulations! Mrs. Witt, you are the Managing Director in fourth generation. Was it clear to you from the start that you also wanted to join the family business?
I am lucky that my father did not pressure me at all. The company was always present, but I was free to make my own decisions. However, after graduating from school, I decided to study mechanical engineering. I guess as a daughter you always try, maybe subconsciously, to impress your father. And a technical degree was the best choice to do so.
During my studies, I was particularly interested in ecological topics and therefore wrote my diploma thesis on the denitrification of drinking water in a bioreactor using bacteria to remove harmful nitrates. After graduating from university, I consequently wanted to work for a company involved in water and soil treatment. However, I actually ended up in the field of cryogenic cooling by coincidence and built air separation plants.
During my first job, I had the opportunity to work in the US for three years. When I told my father that I would like to extend my stay for two more years, my father confronted me with a choice: I would either get into the family business on the occasion of the 100th anniversary in the following year, or he would sell the company – something that had never crossed my mind. The choice was therefore easy, and I never regretted it.
So this year you are celebrating your 25th company anniversary. Congratulations on this as well! What has been one of the most memorable experiences during your career?
Thank you! Yes, it has been 25 years on the first of May 2021. Thinking about my most memorable experience… It's hard to say, there are quite a few. Maybe at the beginning, when I was responsible for a multimillion budget and, as a greenhorn, I was afraid of making mistakes. But then I told myself that mistakes are necessary for your development process, and my employer would have assessed the risks and found them acceptable.
You also mentioned that you have always been interested in ecological issues and that your thesis was in this area. Why do you personally care about our environment?
I have always cared for the environment and always wanted to work in this area. We all see what environmental damage means and the issues of pollution and global warming are now more and more in the public consciousness and intensively discussed. It is important to keep the world in a state that future generations would also like to live in. And as an engineer, I am naturally interested in finding solutions to complex problems.