Since November 2015, Barbara Siegmund has been head of the Sub-Saharan Africa Working Group within the Technical Cooperation Department of PTB.
Barbara welcomes me to this interview with a candid look and a friendly smile. Her office on this snowy winter’s day is as tidy as it is every day. We put on our coats and head out for a walk.
I ask Barbara whether she has a favourite object at PTB, and she replies that it’s the 1 MN force-measuring system. With this in mind, we decide to stroll over to the Gauß building. Her favourite unit, though, is the mole, as it reminds her of her days spent in the biology lab – Dr. Siegmund is a biologist. The topic of her dissertation was »Sperm competition in the scorpionfly« – a subject that has garnered a few laughs during more than one pleasant evening’s conversation.
Before she took up her position at PTB, Dr. Siegmund worked for three years in development cooperation in Uganda. There, her work helped establish a functional structure in the climate department of the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment. What compelled her to leave Germany for Uganda was her passion for Africa – a passion that has accompanied her for thirteen years, beginning with a holiday trip to Kenya. The prospect of working at PTB appealed to her due to both PTB’s location in Germany and to the international nature of the work, with a focus on Africa.
It wasn’t just her love for Africa that Barbara brought back with her from Uganda: she found her two cats, Luca and Meeko, there as well. A friendly neighbour looks after the two »expat« cats during Barbara’s frequent trips.
Barbara speaks with just as much admiration about her ten-person team, noting that it is incredibly enjoyable to work with a group that is intrinsically motivated. She comes to work with a smile on her face and welcomes an open approach to communication that can also include critical feedback.
Currently, not everyone on her team has their own office. Some move frequently from one office to another when their »main occupants« are out of town. I ask if she always knows exactly where each member of her team can be found, and her immediate response is »Yes, of course!« – but adds, after hesitating for a second, »…except yesterday!«
For the years to come, Barbara hopes that her working group will continue its successful work in sub-Saharan Africa, and that its cooperation will be expanded to include new countries and partners. We are glad that her path in life has led her to us!