With her father running his own construction business, Helen Backhaus knew exactly what she wanted to be from a very early age: an engineer. She fulfilled this dream in 1989 when she was awarded her degree in civil engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Münster. A mother of three children, she has been working at the REMONDIS Group for almost 25 years now demonstrating that it most certainly is possible nowadays to have both a family and a successful career.
Helen Backhaus remembers every detail of the job interview she had at RETHMANN Städtereinigung in Selm in 1989. She was interviewed by Norbert Rethmann, now the honorary chairman of the supervisory board of the RETHMANN Group, and Dr Hermann Niehues, who died suddenly in 2008. “I was feeling a little nervous when I sat down on the black leather sofa in Dr Niehues’ office,” commented 48-year-old Helen with a smile on her face.
Egbert Tölle, today a member of the board of directors at REMONDIS AG & Co. KG, then gave her a position in the division responsible for collecting hazardous waste from households and for supporting local authorities and other customers with hazardous waste contracts – the part of the company now known as REMONDIS Industrieservice. Her first days in the company were as follows: having been given two orange files, she then read through all correspondence with the local authorities. “I was able to solve many of the problems, that I came up against at work, by using my technical knowledge. My common sense, though, also helped me to overcome many hurdles,” explained Helen Backhaus.
Over the last (almost) 25 years in the company, she has taken on a wide variety of projects to set up and/or further develop business concepts. Such activities have ranged from implementing the specialist waste management certification into all branches to introducing a CRM system. The most challenging project she has had to deal with so far was handling the electronic waste records procedure six years ago. With the introduction and implementation of this new electronic procedure, she had to manage the sales and marketing of REGISTA® – a software solution developed by the company itself – throughout the whole of the REMONDIS Group. Besides organising a whole host of information events and training courses, she had to develop marketing strategies, build up and train the REGISTA® team and involve the customers in the REGISTA® process.
Not only her career has run smoothly but her family life, too – not least thanks to the ongoing support she has received from her husband. Helen Backhaus knew from the start that she did not want to take long periods off work. She has only interrupted her full-time job to give birth to her three children. Indeed, she attended an inspection of one of the plants in south Germany just before her second child was born and was back at her desk two months after the birth. As well as looking after her children, the 48-year-old has begun a new project: ‘herding sheep’ with her Border Collie Tex. There is certainly no time for her to get bored at home, either. Helen Backhaus always approaches her work and life in general according to the motto “Never say never – there’s always a way” and is looking forward to the coming years and the new projects she’ll be taking on both at the company and at home.