Portrait: Anna Amrhein
"Keeping everyone happy, while still complying with the law."

Every day, Anna Amrhein has to find new solutions and use her expertise to strike a balance between her colleagues’ needs and the regulations they must comply with. In this sixth part of our employee profile series, we’re stepping out of the labs and into the purchasing department.

mask Rocks

"Something always comes up." Anna Amrhein doesn’t mind that her to-do lists are never complete by the end of the day. The 27-year-old technical purchaser at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cognitive Systems IKS says this gives her job more variety.

Anna ticked off the most important item on her to-do list right at the beginning. When she started with Fraunhofer IKS in February 2020, many processes hadn’t been digitalized, and people did a lot of printing out on paper. So Anna took on the task of digitalizing these processes, not knowing what a blessing this would be for her colleagues within a month and a half. The 27-year-old’s work made working from home a whole lot easier for employees in the purchasing and accounting departments.

Anna Amrhein

Anna Amrhein: "It’s great that my work can make a contribution to the institute that’s making artificial intelligence (AI) safer."

Making the switch to science

After training as an industrial clerk, Anna worked in the purchasing department at an e-commerce company, before switching to science. At Fraunhofer IKS, she particularly likes that her ideas are heard and that she gets to drive initiatives, such as digitalizing the purchasing processes — an issue she is very passionate about. She also likes that she gets to support research. "It’s great that my work can make a contribution to the institute that’s making artificial intelligence (AI) safer."

However, Anna has very little involvement with scientific issues. The main thing she needs to know is which laws and regulations must be complied with. "As we work in the public service, we have to document every purchase as accurately as possible." It takes a real all-rounder to communicate with suppliers, get quotes and build up competition — all while making sure everyone stays happy.

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The departments formulate their respective needs, and Anna adds in the commercial requirements. "Sometimes it can be very challenging, if for example, a colleague says they want to start a new project next week and need something special for it, and I have to tell them that unfortunately, it’s not that simple. I have to strike a balance between keeping everyone happy and still complying with the law." And those laws differ depending on whether Anna needs to purchase AI servers, laptops, furniture or the services of an architectural firm for renovation works. She always needs to know which laws are relevant and where to find them.

Despite the lockdown, Anna did more than usual last year. "In the four years before all this, I had been using my spare time to study." She spent many evenings after work studying for her bachelor’s in business administration, which she completed in May 2020. Anna had a lot of time to reflect during the pandemic. "I’ve learned to appreciate everything more. I live in a beautiful city, I’m healthy, I have a job and I’m not on short-time work." And most of all, she says, "I have great friends and a family I can rely on."

Even if she unfortunately can’t always be with them — her family lives in Aschaffenburg, where Anna is originally from. She has chosen Munich as her adopted home, not least because she can quickly get to the mountains from there and go hiking whenever she wants. When the crisis is over, Anna is most looking forward to being able to travel again. "South America and Asia are right at the top of my list. And when I go, I want to be able to really enjoy it and not have to quarantine first."

Meet our employees

Would you like to learn more about your colleagues at Fraunhofer IKS? Then take a look at the other portraits: To the employee portraits.

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