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Andy Lock "I couldn’t work a desk job anymore"

As part of the Expansion Team at Oerlikon Balzers, Englishman Andy Lock monitors construction of the new coating centers abroad – from planning to commissioning.

Andy Lock “Traveling to foreign countries, becoming familiar with different cultures and ways of life – that’s what I like. I probably couldn’t work in production or at a desk job anymore like I used to,” Andy Lock says. This 57-year-old Briton is part of the Oerlikon Balzers Expansion Team and is in charge of building new centers for the global coating network. Lock, who grew up in North London, initially completed an apprenticeship at an engineering firm. Later, he earned a Higher National Diploma in Engineering and worked at a foundry. In 1986, he responded to a job advertisement posted by Balzers: they were looking for a production manager for a new site in England. “I got the job because of my experience in the areas of vacuum technology and coating,” he remembers. Around 15 years later – by this time Lock was very familiar with Balzers’ technology and methods – the company sent him to the US, where he worked as a technical adviser in New York State traveling to all the Oerlikon Balzers centers in the US. Originally scheduled for four months, the deployment lasted two years. After that, Lock was called to Liechtenstein to join the Expansion Team in 2003.

Since then, he has monitored the construction of nine coa ting centers in various countries from the planning stage to commissioning. The procedure is identical every time: “We look for a suitable building, prepare all the paperwork and documents, plan the layout of the production facilities, procure and import the machines, recruit and train the employees and then get production up and running,” Lock explains. This process takes between four months and nine months on average. Lock has already worked in Brazil, Argentina, Hungary and Poland. For a few years now, however, his work has kept him nearly exclusively in China because the growth there is immense. Oerlikon Balzers already has seven coating centers built by the Chinese under the supervision of Lock in this key market and is in the process of completing two more. “The opportunity to experience the country in this way has had a big impact on me,” he says, with certainty. “When it comes to other ideas and lifestyles, I’ve become a more tolerant, open-minded person.” Life as a working nomad, however, also means that he runs the risk of neglecting his social life: “That’s why you really have to motivate yourself to go out, meet people and explore your surroundings,” he says. You have to have the right personality to cope with a job like this – and have the right family. His wife and three sons live in England. According to Lock, “each visit is even more of a pleasure, since we don’t see each other very often.”