And is this a challenge for your colleague?
CF: My colleague Mr Keup has to accept that his supervisor is not there every day. But we talk on the phone every day and exchange views. Recently, we were joking about the subject: "On Tuesdays", he said "it's always relaxed here, because you're not around". I know that it is not relaxed for him. Of course, this was an adjustment for him.
Your children are now nine and twelve years old. This means that you've now been working like this for about eleven years?
CF: The attitude, this flexibility has always been one of the company's fundamental principles, this was a matter of course without management making a big issue of it. Twelve years ago I was also given the opportunity to take a year off, and then resume my previous role. I was already working from home back then. Today, we call this trust-based working hours and have stipulated this in the works agreement. I always had the opportunity to do this at Gira.
It wasn't normal in those days, was it?
CF: No. It was normal at that time for mothers to stay at home and look after the children. And there were also a few older colleagues who couldn't resist making comments about it.
And the women said nothing?
CF: No, they didn't as they all knew that they would be in the same situation sooner or later and would also have to make a decision. Men usually have the convenient version: The wife is at home and they are the breadwinner. That's easy.
How do you manage when you travel?
CF: I cut down on this for the period when the children were small. This has been increasing for some time now, as it's easier, of course, when the children are older.
Do you still like travelling after all these years?
CF: Yes. Two weeks in China, who wouldn't enjoy that?
Whereabouts were you there?
CF: I have been to China four times. The last trip went from Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Chongqing to Xian …
That sounds tiring.
CF: Yes. But no matter. You can't always communicate with each other on the phone. Sometimes in life you have to meet up in person. This has a lot to do with esteem and respect for the other person. I can't work in international marketing and then not travel. Travel is simply part of the job.
What are your specific tasks when you are on the move?
CF: I attend trade fairs, conduct planning discussions for marketing with the importer, sometimes I visit a construction site and talk to the architect. And then I would like to get a general impression of the countries and know: How is marketing carried out there? I walk down the streets, take photographs and look at which exhibitions, business and media are available and which co-operations are possible. You sometimes encounter things that are not usual in Europe.
Which things, for example?
CF: In China, for example, there are small screens that you can't turn off in the headrests of taxis and on trains, which play advertisements with audio. You simply have to watch it.
Do you speak 37 languages?