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The Room Manager

Relocations on campus are the part of the daily work of Heike Hemmersbach

Campus Life

“Hemmersbach arrives and everyone immediately fears for their rooms.” That is her image – of that the cheerful woman is sure. “I want to do right by everyone and find compromises,” says the head of the Room Management working group. That is why we are not illustrating the text about this extraordinarily active boss as she originally suggested: A slice of salami between two halves of a bread roll. Squashed, pressure from both sides.

When Heike Hemmersbach comes through the door, energy flows into the room. She likes to talk about her work and uses the word “totally”. “Totally my type of thing”; “we totally powered through, even Saturdays”, “I totally threw myself into it.” Sometimes, when something does not quite work out, she also says: “I am ‘fix und foxi’” – meaning that she is frazzled – a play on the name of a German comic book series. But in the end, everything always works out, she is not frazzled, and she glows. Relocations, both big and small, are the daily bread of the 56-year-old. The native of Bremen unknowingly lay the foundations for her job today whilst undertaking an apprenticeship at the shipping company Richard Boas & Co. The company is no longer around. After her vocational training, Heike Hemmersbach worked for the telecommunications center 1, continued to educate herself, became a civil servant, came to the university in 2002, was an administrative clerk in the field of cultural science, and has been the head of Room Management since 2011.

Relocations Big and Small

A few impressive numbers: The seven-person team (quote Heike Hemmersbach: “The best team in the world”) supervises around 100 building, some of which are rented, an area of 380,000 square meters, and 12,000 offices. “I actually have everything in my head,” says the relocation expert. “I know which working group sits where and who works in which office.” There are big and small relocations. Small ones are five to ten staff members. Heike Hemmersbach and her team organize them with student assistants. She has employed eight of them and they carry out around 240 room moves each year. “2,000 hours,” she states. New appointments and the moving together of working groups trigger small relocations.

“Organization is totally my kind of thing.”

There are also big moves. “Whole floors have to be moved when renovations take place,” explains Heike Hemmersbach in reference to her more recent experiences with NW1 Building (Natural Sciences 1 Building) and GW1 Building (Humanities 1 Building). Or the corona crisis: Some of the administration has moved into SFG Building (Seminar and Research Building), so that they can sit in a distanced manner. The sixth story of MZH Building was on her schedule in October 2020. “Several working groups needed to be put elsewhere,” says the woman of action. “30 offices moved, one of which is a directing room, and another is a didactics laboratory with a window.” Exact measurements will be takes beforehand and ordnance survey-like plans will be made. “Organization is totally my kind of thing,” exclaims Heike Hemmersbach once again.

Black Belt in Karate

Naturally, she cannot draw on plentiful resources. “We’re trying to cut costs,” says the room manager. “The offices are of course equipped in accordance with university standards.” She has a few pieces of furniture tucked away for an emergency. “For when something is broken.” For example, tables: A physicist may hit it with a hammer, an artist may paint the tabletop by accident. Then she exchanges it. However, her furniture storage facility in the university’s central area is not big at all. “Some people imagine that we then simply buy new stuff – but it does not work like that.” Heike Hemmersbach runs a financially tight and sustainable ship.

As she “totally throws herself into it from morning to evening,” she often returns home late. A miracle: She still has time for a life after work. The sporty 56-year-old’s hobby is karate. At Grambke-Oslebshausen sports club, she is working towards her black belt – after which only other black belts, also known as DAN, follow. “I can really turn off with martial arts,” says Heike Hemmersbach. She is active on the sport club’s executive board and organizes canoe trips, bowling, or excursions to the OLantis aqua fun swimming pool in Oldenburg.

Her pride and joy is her 21-year-old daughter who began to study Mathematics and Music Studies with a teaching orientation at the University of Bremen in the winter semester. Instruments: violin, guitar, and piano. We nearly forget to mention that Mrs. Hemmersbach also plays the piano. And she is proud of her husband: a multitalented technician, craftsman, electrician. Whether it is 3D printers or building furniture: “He can do it all, a jack of all trades,” laughs Heike Hemmersbach and quietly adds: “I have a wonderful life.”

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