The faces of the Foundation

Great at changing direction

Who actually does what at Humboldt headquarters? Who are the people behind the scenes making sure that everything runs smoothly? This page is devoted to the colleagues at the Humboldt Foundation, their lives at work and beyond. TODAY: DANIELA NIES.

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  • Recorded by Teresa Havlicek
Daniela Nies auf ihrem Motorrad

When I joined the Foundation 13 years ago, I could already look back on several stages in my working life. I trained as a carpenter in my father’s firm, but it wasn’t the right thing for me. So, I did a complete reverse turn and finally worked as a multilingual secretary for various science organisations. Alongside this, I taught yoga and started my own yoga school. And with my yoga trainer, an Irishman, I set up the folksong duo “Laurence and Dani”. Recently, I have started doing rock music again and sing with a band. When I hear about somebody having a “krummen Lebenslauf”, which is the German equivalent of an “unusual CV” – someone who has tried out lots of things and changed direction – I really have to laugh. I like changing direction – after all I ride a motorbike.

I enjoy dealing with people in my work. And that suits me very well at the Foundation. I started in the press department in 2010 and am now the assistant to the Deputy Secretary General. I am quality coordinator and internal auditor. A lot has changed over the years: when I started, the Foundation had a staff of roughly 170, today it’s 270. And the topics are quite different, too. There was nothing like the amount of mobile working then that there is now. With all these innovations, it’s really important to me to represent the interests and rights of staff so that, hopefully, everyone feels at home in the workplace. That’s why I’ve been on the Foundation’s works council for the last seven years.

And just to be sure I don’t get bored when I finally stop work, I’ve already made plans: my husband and I recently bought two vintage motorcycles, which we are now restoring. When we reach retirement age, they will ensure we never stop changing direction. 

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