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3 months sabbatical leave at BSH – as a Senior Manager

3 months sabbatical leave at BSH – as a Senior Manager

Reading time for this story: 5 minutes

Susanne Trojer, who heads the technology department within our region Europe, recounts her sabbatical experiences in the past year and explains how one can benefit from a professional break even when in a management position.

After around 22 years in professional life, Susanne Trojer has fulfilled a long-cherished wish: a three-month sabbatical with plenty of time for herself. Back at BSH, she talks about her exciting experiences in this interview.

Susanne, what is your current role at BSH?

Actually, my role is still pretty new and constantly evolving. Since coming back from my sabbatical, I've been working in the "operations" department, coordinating technology issues across Europe.

When did you start your sabbatical and how long have you been away?

I was able to take a total of three months off: from October to December 2019.

How come you decided to take a sabbatical leave?

There were several reasons. After around 22 continuous years in the job, the desire for a long break has grown stronger.

The decisive factor was a tick bite, which made me sick with Borreliosis. This incident was followed by a time when I kept catching colds and just had the feeling that my body needed more relaxation than I could get from a “normal” vacation. This is how the idea of a longer Ayurveda treatment in India came about. In retrospect, a very curative decision.

Would you mind describing the process to us – from this decision to the actual sabbatical?

In fact, this process was astonishingly short and I received a lot of support from the very first moment. Because of my Borreliosis, the aspect of detoxification was particularly important to me and the Ayurveda treatment in India just seemed to be the right thing to do.

The procedure at BSH is very clear and simple. In the end, I went through the application process in just three days.

Was the process more difficult, easier or different because you took the step from a senior management position?

Lucky for me, my product management project ended in May and a career change within BSH has already been planned. Therefore, I was able to organize my return to another role together with the HR department and my managers with sufficient advance notice. That, of course, greatly simplified the process overall.

How did your colleagues and managers react to the decision?

I received a lot of encouragement and admiration from all sides. Especially since this step is certainly not a very common one in my position. But overall, the feedback was very positive and many colleagues were genuinely happy for me.

Tell us a little more about your experiences during the sabbatical!

In the first three weeks, I enjoyed a beautiful autumn in Germany and spent a lot of time with friends and in nature. It was nice to take the time for the many great excursion destinations in the vicinity. And of course, to sleep in!

In the last week of October, the plane departed for India. And since a trip to India without stopping at the Taj Mahal would have been unthinkable for me, I made it my first destination along with a few other tourist highlights in the region.

In the Ayurveda clinic, sightseeing was over. I couldn't believe how quiet and beautiful this place was. Pure relaxation. I learned a lot about nutrition, detox, yoga and meditation during these 3.5 weeks.

After the cure, I went back to Germany for almost two weeks and my husband and I used the time to prepare for our three-week trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar, where we also spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

What have you taken away from the sabbatical?

It was a great feeling to simply live for the moment for such a long period of time. The Ayurveda treatment in India slowed me down completely. There, I meditated for the first time in my life and was able to experience the positive effects yoga and meditation have on body and mind. This “mentally taking care of yourself” was perhaps the most powerful insight I gained from the sabbatical.

How was returning to work at BSH?

Towards the end of my sabbatical, I was actually really looking forward to going back to work in January. As much as I enjoyed and needed these three months off, as much I was longing for something to do after a while. So, I returned to my job with new energy and full of joy. Three months have been the perfect amount of time off for me.

How has your way of working changed after this experience?

If I’ve taken one thing with me, it surely is a greater awareness of my health. Before the sabbatical, I often postponed private things such as going to the gym and preferred to work a little longer. Today, I consciously try to create free space for myself more regularly.

Were you afraid that it would be difficult to gain a foothold in your position after the sabbatical? How did reality look like?

On the contrary. Many colleagues had followed my trip with positive curiosity and I am still asked questions about it from time to time.

Do you have a recommendation for colleagues who are also considering a sabbatical?

Since I've personally had such good experiences with it, I would highly recommend a sabbatical. However, I think it's important that your personal planning and the employer’s plans are compatible. But if you come to an agreement with your colleagues and superiors at an early stage, I am convinced, that both sides can benefit. I definitely have a lot more energy and that, of course, has a very positive effect on my work.


Note from the BSH editorial team: With regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are well aware, that a sabbatical like Susanne was able to experience, is currently hardly imaginable. Nevertheless, we hope that you enjoy reading about her interesting story. 

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BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, with a total turnover of some EUR 15.6 billion and 62,000 employees in 2022, is a global leader in the home appliance industry. The company’s brand portfolio includes eleven well-known appliance brands like Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau and Neff as well as the ecosystem brand Home Connect and service brands like Kitchen Stories. BSH produces at 40 factories and is represented in some 50 countries. BSH is a Bosch Group company.