< SWITCH ME >

Ingo Hatzmann, 37, is a senior counsel in the legal department of the German bank Deutsche Bank. Four years ago he followed the job to New York City where he arrived 15 days before Lehman Brothers collapsed. The direct consequences for him: he suddenly had a very relaxed job. The deals he was supposed to take care of didn't happen anymore.

"I have been back in Frankfurt for one year, since September 1st 2010. As a a senior counsel in the legal department of Deutsche Bank, I work in the corporate finance area. I am responsible for any and all legal issues that relate to equity and debt issuances by German and Central European Issuers. I take care of the German and US capital market law aspects. For example: if a corporation wants to raise equity or debt or wants to be listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, then I take care of the documentation and legal issues.

I have always wanted to work in foreign countries. Actually I chose to work for Deutsche Bank because they offered me that right from the beginning.

ingo_central_park
Photo: Ingo Hatzmann
One of the best parts of living in New York is Central Park; particularly romantic in winter.
"I started in New York on September 1st and fifteen days later Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and all issues of capital market products stopped right away. And I had pretty much nothing to do."

Originally, I wanted to join the Foreign Office in Germany. That is why I chose to study law. During my studies and as a Legal Trainee I did internships at the German Embassy in Washington and Germany's Permanent Mission at the United Nations in New York City. After my second state exam I did a master's degree at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. on public and private international law. Subsequently I took the Foreign Office exam – but then Deutsche Bank was quicker to hire me and they made the better offer too.

We at Deutsche Bank offer our lawyers the opportunity to work in London, Hong Kong or New York City, usually for three, six or twelve months. During that period they work in the legal department there. I am dealing most of the time with US and German law issues in Frankfurt, Germany. So it was quite logical that I would go to New York City.

They sent me to New York City starting September 1st 2008; then they extended my stay twice, each time for six month. In the end, I was there for two years in total.

In New York, I worked in the legal department in the same area as well. That made sense because they wanted to train me on the US capital marked law issues on the same products: bonds and equity.

So actually nothing really happened because I started in New York on September 1st and fifteen days later Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and all issues of capital market products stopped right away. And I had pretty much nothing to do. So I had a lot of time in the afternoon and in the early evening. Of course, none of us worked for very long at that time. I was able to do some sightseeing and other stuff. But that situation changed dramatically in January 2009, when the capital markets jumped-started again and we got very, very busy in my field.

The Americans work much more flexibly. You can work more from home - I think in Frankfurt you have to be more present in the office. Especially for the female colleagues, the US system is much better. My colleagues had home office days. They were only in the office four days a week and worked one day from home.

Also the Americans have a very different approach to problems. They don't solve problems in advance. They solve them when they appear. The US way is: we do it first and see where that gets us. And Germans first think about all possible problems.

ingo_club
Photo: Ingo Hatzmann
Ingo, enjoying the festive atmosphere of the Metropolitan Club.
"I don't think New York City is a place where you can get homesick easily. There is always something to do."

Building up a new private life in New York was not a problem at all. I had three circles of friends. First my colleagues at the Banks, both German and American, second the Deloitte group – that was a very funny group of colleagues working for International Tax Desk of Deloitte who I met right in the beginning and then other Germans in New York.

Also Deutsche Bank (...) organised an event every four weeks for the employees and their spouses from abroad. So every month you got an invitation for an interesting thing to do: a sunset sailing boat trip, a football match, a wine tasting where all foreign employees met the other foreign expats. So Deutsche Bank made a huge effort to help people find and built a social network.

But at the end it really depends on you - if you are open-minded it is not very hard to make new friends at all. And the better you know the language the better you get connected.

The bad sides of going abroad for two years? You are definitely away from your family and from your friends. Unless they come over. And it is sometimes really difficult if you see your parents only once or twice a year. People might not cope with that. And some might get homesick. But I don't think New York City is a place where you can get homesick easily. There is always something to do."

Ingo Hatzmann was interviewed by Kristin Kruthaup


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