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Graduate profile: project manager

Finding out how aviation functions as a complete system

Robin Breu studied Aviation at the ZHAW School of Engineer-ing. Today he manages demanding aviation projects for aviena GmbH in such areas as flight safety, utilisation concepts and the simulation of passenger flows at airports.

What is the quickest way for a passenger to get from A to B when changing planes at an airport ? How many security checks should be available during peak periods? And how should the airport’s luggage sorting system be designed so that luggage ends up in the hold of the right aircraft at the right time? These are the types of questions that Robin tackles. As a member of the management at the

aviena GmbH aerospace consulting company, the Aviation graduate heads up demanding projects. “As a project manager, I bring together the most important experts in a specialised area, assume leadership responsibility, create project plans, keep an eye on costs and ensure that the project progresses according to plan and that we can present results to our client within a reasonable time,” he explains.

“What really fascinates me is the fact that aviation is so multifaceted and intersects with a variety of socially relevant topic areas”

Multifaceted, challenging, fascinating

His own expertise lies in the field of Airport Engineering, where he complies with international regulations and decides how an airport should be built in order to be able to operate ideally and, most importantly, safely – both on the ground and in the air. Technology and practicability, politics and profitability all need to be taken into account. “What really fascinates me is the fact that aviation is so multifaceted and intersects with a variety of socially relevant topic areas,” Robin Breu comments. However, he is quick to add: “This also presents a great challenge at the same time. It is difficult to find solutions that are optimal for all the aspects involved. This makes it even more vital to have extensive knowledge about how the individual areas of aviation interact as a complete system.”

Aviation as a networked system

The Aviation programme at the ZHAW School of Engineering prepared him for his current position. After an apprenticeship as an electrical technician, he was looking for more specific technical training. It was a lucky coincidence that Robin chose this precise programme. “I started the programme with few preconceived notions. My main motivation wasn’t a specific career goal – I was just interested in the subject area.” Today, he feels that this interest is indispensable. “In my opinion, an-yone who just wants to fly will not be happy in an Aviation programme. You also have to have a desire to know how avia-tion functions as a networked system.” After graduating from the Bachelor programme, Robin began a Master of Science in Engineering and continued to study in the area of Engineering and Management.

Knowledge and tools

Robin’s studies gave him a comprehensive overview of his subject area, which meant that when he graduated he started his professional career with a great deal of confidence, knowledge and tools. “As a graduate, I felt completely capable of entering a company and making a contribution – even though I naturally learned many specific skills 

on the job as well.” According to Robin, his studies equipped him especially well with a systematic approach, problem-solving skills and personal responsibility – all gained in the context of practice-oriented projects. “Throughout my studies, I always focused on close collaborations with industry partners, and that also made it easier for me when starting my career.”

“As a graduate, I felt completely capable of entering a company and making a contribution – even though I naturally learned many specific skills  on the job as well.”

Moving the company forward

After a short further education course at the University of Man-itoba in Canada, Robin joined aviena GmbH and worked his way up the career ladder. “I first worked as a project engineer and then as a project manager and now I represent the ‘new guard’ of engineers in management.” However, he is not resting on his laurels but rather setting himself further goals. “I am concentrating on moving the company forward – not just with new projects but also with new focus areas beyond aviation, such as in the areas of logistics, automation and process op-timisation.” His heart still belongs to aviation, however. “The international flair, the wide expanses – once you’ve caught the aviation bug, you don’t get over it very quickly.”