My name is Joe Mannion and I studied German and French at Trinity College Dublin and work as an international business development consultant.
What does a typical day in your job look like? Is there any link/relation to German/ Germany?
I work as an international business development consultant, having founded my own business (EuroLink) some years ago. This means each day is a real mix of liaising with clients across Europe and North America, who I help to gain business in Europe. Of course, with Germany being such a key market, I am often in touch with firms there, and I utilize my German fluency to get better results and to be able to have more convivial conversations. It is has brought me great friendships and fun over the years! I often travel around Germany, to ‘Messen‘ and to visit customers, and it’s always a pleasure to get out & about there. On my last trip to Hamburg, I even squeezed in an evening with a client attending a Handball game (Hamburg beat Kiel).
If you are teaching, what sparked your interest in education and teaching? Especially in teaching abroad?
While I do not teach German officially, I have been able to tutor my own children and some local students in German. The year that I spent on a scholarship in Germany at Kiel University, and my own Germanistik/Romanistik studies in Trinity College Dublin, really gave me a life-long love of the German & French languages and of learning. Later I lived in Spain and picked up another language and the love of another culture too.
Which experiences have you gained during your stay in Germany and how has it influenced your career path/ personal development?
The scholarship in Kiel, and several other periods working elsewhere in Germany later, showed me the depth and variety of regional cultures and places in the country. I travelled through the then DDR & East Berlin, and later have seen them blossom after reunification. I fondly recall taking a month-long ‘Trämperticket’ train journey crisscrossing Germany. I love the variety of different parts of the country and its culture. My work was always going to include Germany after that!
Which city in Germany have you been studying/researching and what was/were the reason/s for choosing it?
Kiel was my study destination back then, and the support of the German government was critical in choosing it, along with its top notch ‘Institut Deutsch für Ausländer‘ section in the university. There I was immersed in the German language and culture, and also provided the opportunity to explore other course work: BWL (business), Romanistik (French for me) and even learning a little of other languages through German (Portuguese).
Who has inspired you the most in your career and why?
All of the lecturers in Trinity (Professor Eda Sagarra especially) and in Kiel were so generous with their time and knowledge. Later in international business, the sales & marketing and the people skills that I learned from my first bosses (John Chamney and Jim Breen at C&C International) were crucial to my own career growth and opportunities.
What do you like in or about Germany? Can you give an example?
I value the directness of German culture, and the emphasis on quality and honesty. It makes Germany the powerhouse that is economically. Even in seminars back in Kiel University I recall the open competition and evaluation of effort and work from fellow students.
Is there a (German) book or (German) author or maybe German film you always return to? If yes, why?
Das Boot, the film by Wolfgang Petersen, and later the television series is one that I can always return to. It shines a light on the human condition, as the crew in the submarine struggle under pressure with their mission and any justification for it.
Which is your favourite city/ place in Germany and which in the UK/Ireland and why? Are there any similarities or differences?
Well now I will have to give Kiel a huge mention! But I have also spent time living in Frankfurt and in the Black Forest (near Freiburg). In my work I now regularly get to spend time in the fabulous cities of Munich and Hamburg.
What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had in the UK/Ireland so far? How did you react? What did it remind you of?
In Trinity we had a ‘Stammtisch’ with the German Society, so that was great fun to have a set meet up in a pub with friends. I have always enjoyed visits too from German family (a brother lives near Bonn), and from business friends & colleagues. It’s easy to slip back into German habits and approaches!
Can you cook a German dish without a recipe? If so, which one and where have you learned it?
I must be honest, ‘Bockwurst’ and a good ‘Pils’ are about it for my German cooking. But I still love a slice of ‘Leberkäse’ with a fried egg on top, when I am in Germany!
What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study/research?
Languages are a great doorway to many areas of work and study. They make travel for work or leisure so much more rewarding and fun. It helps you to think a bit differently, and to be able to solve problems with/from another perspective.
What advice would you give to UK/Irish students and researchers who are thinking of pursuing research abroad in Germany?
While Erasmus is now almost a norm for Irish students, the quality of the choices & universities that you gain by having German language skills is invaluable. In your early studies it’s an exciting journey, which can lead you to unexpected destinations in your career in business or academia.
Is there anything we have not asked but you would like to say?
Do embrace the opportunity to master German language and culture, and with the help of DAAD programmes you will benefit from great support and introductions to make it all the more enjoyable.