Name, organization: Ulrich Hirn, TU Graz
Current position: Professor
Areas of expertise: Lignocellulosic materials and paper
Roles in FibreNet: Supervisor of ESRs 12 and 13
Where were you born/ where have you lived as a child?
I was born in Vienna, but I grew up and studied in Graz, Austria.
Hobbies: Skiiing, swimming, going to the gym, general interest in economy and society, financial markets.
Tell something about yourself, which other FibreNet people might not know yet.
I used to play the violin for 13 years and even studied for two years at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.
How did you become a researcher/scientist?
I was asked to work as a PhD student, there I got to know the free and self-driven work as a researcher. I loved that and so I decided to try going for a career in science.
What do you like most in your current work?
To work with people from very different scientific backgrounds and with talented young researchers. This is very exciting and inspiring.
What has been the biggest change in your working life, and how did you adapt to it?
In a leading position you move away from doing research to supervising research. I had to improve my time management a lot to adapt to that. Last minute activities might bring results as a researcher, but they do not get you anywhere as a manager or supervisor.
What has been the hardest decision you have made during the last years?
To realize that I will not have enough time to start my own company.
How do you organize your time at work, reveal some of your effective time management tricks.
Supervising people I find that they need very different levels of attention, and also very different fields of attention. I spent a lot of futile time trying to shape people’s abilities in fields they did not find interesting or did not have talent for. Instead I have learnt to adapt the research plan to the researcher and not the other way around.
Reserve enough time for the important things that are NOT urgent (publications, grant applications, organization development), otherwise they never happen.
What are the three most important things in your current job?
Grant money, publications and research results.
Describe the best colleague or boss that you have worked with. What was it that especially impressed you?
My best boss was my R&D manager in a paper producing company. She was very clear in communicating her goals and expectations, yet she never made me feel under pressure. She was great in communicating our research within the company and had great ideas to valorize our results. She never bothered with technical details. She was a true manager, taking care of the large and important decisions but never engaging in micromanagement.