Melanie Honscheid’s job is to talk to people and give them the help and motivation they need to overcome obstacles. As RIO’s Agile Coach, she makes sure that processes within the teams run smoothly and that employees can do their best.

Text: Silke Bauer

What does an agile coach do? Melanie Honscheid jokingly compares herself to a mechanic with an oilcan, only instead of lubricating engines, she facilitates collaboration in teams. 26-year-old Honscheid completed a dual work-study program in industrial engineering, working for an automotive supplier before she joined MAN. Back then, she was still working in purchasing. It was during her master’s degree in business psychology that she decided to change direction. “I just find people more interesting than machines,” Munich-born Honscheid explains. She has been part of RIO’s Agile Mastery team since 2019.

Asker of questions

When asked to explain her job, Honscheid replies: “I listen to people and ask them questions. Sometimes, I also give the people in our company advice and help them deal with new situations.” Generally speaking, her job is to make her colleagues’ work easier. She does this together with the other women in her well-practiced team, all of whom complement each other well. For example, while Honscheid enjoys doing something different every day, some of her colleagues feel more comfortable with routine tasks. “We all have our individual strengths. Something we have in common is that we’re all very pragmatic and analytical. And we all listen to our gut.” Every day, Honscheid and her colleagues at RIO work with very different people from all areas of the company, for example the HR department or the leadership team. They believe it’s important to tailor their approach to each individual.

Balance keeper

Honscheid had already met and worked with very different people when she was at university. She studied abroad in China and the USA and got to know two very different cultures. During her semester in Santa Barbara, a town on the coast of California, she enjoyed spending a lot of time at the beach. “I really lived the student life to the full,” she explains with a smile. Her time in China was a very different experience. Honscheid spent three months living in Shanghai and working with the locals. “It was a very exciting and truly challenging experience,” she recalls. “In China, openly criticizing someone can often be seen as an insult.” Honscheid had to learn to give feedback without causing the other person to lose credibility. “Not losing face is very important in Asian culture. This was something me and my European mentality had to learn at the beginning.” Honscheid loves it when different cultures come together. “Organizing a meeting where everyone is accepted unconditionally, and people’s quirks do not cause arguments is an art form,” she explains. Honscheid adds that the first challenge of any project is making sure its participants also get on well on a personal level. “That’s the only way the meeting will be a success.”

Martial artist

Honscheid worked with people long before it became her job. She was actively involved in youth work before going to university, first in a parish, and in the last couple of years in the Katholische Junge Gemeinde, a German Catholic youth organization. From group sessions to trips — “for as long as I can remember, I have made sure that people can come together and have a nice time.” Honscheid used to do a lot of martial arts — first taekwondo, then mixed martial arts and kickboxing. “Unfortunately, I had to swap trainers for books when I started university,” she explains. And now that her university days are behind her? She hasn’t yet found the sport to make her fall in love with exercise again. But she has discovered a new hobby: for the last two years, she has been riding motorcycles. Honscheid also has another quirky passion: she buys a shot glass as a souvenir in every country she visits. The most special item in her collection is a small wooden cup from China. To this day, the story behind it makes her happy: “It was gifted to me by a family living in the Shenzhen hinterland. They had never seen a blond woman before and wanted to touch my hair. I let them, so they gave me the shot glass as a thank you.”

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