20. September 2022

In conversation with Mike Neumann

Since August, the chemist has been in charge of the State Laboratory Berlin-Brandenburg

Mike Neumann © WISTA Management GmbH

“I have found my calling,” says Mike Neumann. After working for Landeslabor Berlin-Brandenburg (LLBB), Berlin-Brandenburg’s state laboratory, for eight years – most recently as department head for the environment and radiation protection –, he now became the state laboratory’s new director in early August. For Neumann, this job is an opportunity to combine his academic preferences with management tasks and to thus contribute to providing the population with key public services.

Adlershof Journal: What intrigues you about your work?

Mike Neumann: My work at the state laboratory requires broad professional expertise, a basic acceptance of new challenges and projects as well as analytical thinking and a fair amount of finesse and intuition. This is precisely what was intriguing about my previous tasks at LLBB and, at the same time, what motivates me now that I am in charge of the institution as “a whole”. The LLBB works for the public. It does so not like a classic government agency but as a lab. Almost everything we come across in our daily lives has been analytically examined and assessed by the state laboratory. We examine, e.g., foods and consumer goods, cosmetics, drugs, feed, fertilisers, and environmental samples; we perform animal disease diagnostics and operate two radiation measuring stations in Brandenburg. In doing so, quality assured, accredited work and management – under continually changing requirements – are inextricably linked. This requires practising constant learning. Ultimately, the mission of the state laboratory is: producing watertight and quality-assured data.

Your career path, too, seems straightforward. Are you someone who always works towards a concrete goal?

It might seem like my path was straightforward. I see that a bit differently. I prefer to describe my path within the state laboratory as meandering: It seems like you constantly move forward until you are faced with an obstacle. The challenge here is to find a suitable path, which most often involves compromises. What is crucial is the vision, or the goal, that you ultimately want to reach together with your colleagues. If you reach your goal successfully, you know you have made the right decisions.

The LLBB has been based at Adlershof Technology Park since 2019. Which advantages does this new home offer?

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the state laboratory was able to establish networks and collaborations with others on the site. This included connections with the Adlershof Health Network, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and other on-site laboratories. This is a crucial advantage of the site: There are many facilities in Adlershof whose interests are aligned.

Which do you see as key activities of the state laboratory in the near future?

Now that the state laboratory departments in Berlin-Mitte, Potsdam, and Kleinmachnow have been merged into a modern laboratory infrastructure in Berlin-Adlershof in 2019, it will be one of my future tasks to pave the way for two new laboratory buildings in Frankfurt (Oder) and Oranienburg. We will also be addressing the big issue of our future professional focus. An ongoing topic is to secure the basis of the LLBB’s work, the accreditation according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 – the worldwide standard for laboratory accreditation in testing and calibration.

What do you do in your free time?

My job is balanced out wonderfully by my family. If time allows, I also like to restore a physical balance by practising fitness and running. Part of my free time is occupied by my volunteering at the local parish council.

Do you have a favourite place in the Technology Park?

I like to spend my breaks near the landscaped park. A short gaze into the green helps me to recharge my inspiration and strength for the second half of the day.

Peggy Mory for Adlershof Journal


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