From Cook to Controller

Mag. (FH) Thomas Hehle, Controller at Vamed AG, Vienna

I work in Controlling with VAMED AG. The Controlling Department is the point of interface between the VAMED Group and Fresenius.

During the course of our activities, we compile monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements for the Fresenius Vamed segment pursuant to international accounting regulations. Furthermore we engage in financial planning and variance analysis. Not only this, we are responsible for implementing new accounting standards subject to the specifications of Fresenius.

At the outset of my career there was certainly no indication that I would be working to such extent with figures, data and international standards, for I started out on my working life as qualified cook and waiter.

I have worked since the age of 15. At the time, I was driven by an urge to see a lot of the world and in doing so, to pursue a career. This is why I opted for the hotel business. Among other places, I visited Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia and the USA. I attended the hotel management school in Germany. At 28 I was already hotel director in a 4-star hotel and was wondering as to how I should proceed. I had already been involved in the area of hotel controlling. I then switched to a real estate company where I was in charge of the hotel real estate. During this period I started a course on finance, accounting and taxation that I completed in 2008. During the final phase of the course, I applied to VAMED.

I was already familiar with Fresenius Vamed from the tourist segment. Perhaps one should say that VAMED is the largest spa operator in Austria as VAMED Vitality World. With my application, I was primarily focusing on the tourism area. Yet during talks with the Board it transpired that given my experience and knowledge, I would be better suited for accounting and/or controlling. This is how I joined VAMED in 2008.

The past two years were really exciting for me. Like the entire Fresenius Group, Fresenius Vamed is very dynamic with a good rate of growth.

For this reason alone, my job is very varied. If, for example, VAMED acquires a company, we support the companies for the initial reporting.

Moreover in reporting, we comply with the international accounting standards. Here, there are frequently changes. From Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA, I receive information about the standards that are to be amended as well as the question as to the extent these amendments will have consequences. We also continuously receive updates from the large auditing companies as to current changes. If a new standard is to be adopted by the Fresenius Group, it is up to us to make sure that those of our companies to be consolidated are made aware of the modified standard and that they apply it. If necessary, we compile a training concept and then train the colleagues on-the-job.

In other words there is no routine in my work and to me this is really important. We are not desk officers with clear boundaries to the left and right, but need to be highly versatile and develop significant knowhow. Obviously there are quite a few challenges that evolve. Yet to me, this is what makes my job so fascinating. Compared to other companies in which I have worked, the employees at Fresenius Vamed are held in high esteem. Here, it is the person who counts – this I can truly say. If I were to tell a classical cook what it is I do here, he would be sure to shake his head in disbelief!