Alumni Relations Management

“We create chemistry” - Alumni Career Talks with CAU alumnus Dr. Eckhard Parzich (BASF SE)

What’s it like to work for the world’s largest chemistry corporation? To switch over to corporate communication with a doctorate in chemistry? And to move from Germany to China as a manager? CAU alumnus Dr Eckhard Parzich (Corporate Communications, works council, BASF SE) answered these questions first hand at our interdisciplinary Alumni Career Talks on 24 January 2018. read more

'We create chemistry'

The joint events by Alumni Relations Management and the Career Center unite students and new graduates with alumni in leading positions in order to exchange ideas and views. There is plenty of scope for your own questions - and the 50 participants to this event made good use of this! Eckhard Parzich spent almost 90 minutes after the end of his talk to answer each and every question by those attending.

Eckhard Parzich beim Vortrag
Eckhard Parzich at the Alumni Career Talks (click to enlarge)Photo: C. Fink, Uni Kiel

He was born in Dortmund, and originally wanted to study marine biology in Kiel, but then decided to study chemistry at his home university. But he always longed to be by the sea. Parzich transferred to Kiel University after his intermediate diploma, where he then also completed his doctoral degree. It was the right idea: “The great environment for studying really clears your head,” he says. The diligence in research is what makes Kiel University so special, he thinks: “The CAU is the best kind of working university - there’s no room for fake news here. I’m pleased that the workshops are still here,” he says. He was able to see for himself this week during a tour through the chemistry section.

Führung durch die Chemie
Guided Tour through the Chemics Department (click to enlarge)Photo: M. Mika, Uni Kiel

From Ludwigshafen to Shanghai

Due to the hiring freeze for chemists back then, Eckhard Parzich decided to further qualify as a technical editor, after his doctoral degree. He completed a work experience placement at the metal company in Frankfurt am Main and gained his first insights into corporate communication there. Aged 31, he began a traineeship at BASF in Ludwigshafen. “At that age, I admit that it’s not the right thing for everyone, but you have to recognise chances and opportunities for long term further development,” he says on the topic.

He also spent six years in China during his 20+ year career in various communication roles at BASF. “The phone call from our communications boss came as quite a surprise,” he smiles. “It meant the whole family had to move.” He prepared himself for the trip with intercultural training and the like. Here, it is important to cater to other customs in the host country. In practice, however, they may be surprising! “We had a press meeting over there. The local journalists were all very young, nobody had touched any food or drink.” Why not? In China, the oldest person at the table has to start eating or drinking first, before the others can begin. The oldest person in the room was me - everyone was waiting for my signal.” He also reports on the “BASF Kids' Lab” project, in cooperation with Sesame Street at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai, and shares personal anecdotes about how the managing director of a German style meat deli in China named a liver sausage after his family - the Parzich Leberwurst - which you can still buy there today.

Präsentation bei den Alumni Career Talks
Presentation during Alumni Career TalksPhoto: C. Fink, Uni Kiel


Throughout his career he has employed many trainees for the same entry-level position he started with. Which tips can he offer our students? “The topic for your thesis or doctoral thesis is not all that important - the main thing is a good final grade and the ability to work scientifically.” He especially encourages young scientists to send spontaneous job applications, but also mentions that the situation is extremely competitive. “Specialist knowledge can be a qualitative advantage, but study alone is not enough without practical experience,” he says. “Start setting up a professional network early on, establish a range of contacts and maintain these, both while studying and in your job.” And which soft skills are important for working at a corporation? “Team skills and the ability to communicate.” And how should you deal with failures? “Don’t give up, and follow it up. If you don’t get the job, give the HR member a call and ask why. That’s the only way to learn for next time.”

We are very grateful to Eckhard Parzich for the personal and practical insights into his professional career and for all the valuable tips he had for our students and new graduates!

Good luck with your networking and best wishes from Kiel University!

Unterschrift M. Mika

Mareike Mika M.A. 
Alumni Relations Management
Kiel University (CAU)