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My name is Oliver Doerle, and I am the Head of Marketing at Detectortesters. Originally from Germany, I was meant to spend just one year in England to learn the language. Fast forward 25+ years, I am still here, and I definitely call the UK my home now. The rest of my family still live in the Black Forest in Germany and it’s a beautiful place to travel back to when I see them. And yes, I will be in Germany for EURO 2024.
I have always worked in marketing and product management. Before joining the fire industry, I had worked in the power tools and data/information services industries, which have turned out to be very relevant experiences for working in the fire industry. I feel very privileged to have been elected on to the FIA Services Council and I also chair the Installers & Maintainers Section (I&MS).
What initially attracted you to the fire industry?
That’s an easy one to answer. To start with, the fire industry has a real purpose – it’s all about keeping people and places safe. We spend so much time at work, it’s important that you both enjoy your job and that it is meaningful.
To be honest, I also liked the technical nature of fire products and some of the emerging trends – digitalisation and the importance of data in particular given my background in data. The last few years haven’t disappointed and there is so much innovation in our industry. These are very exciting times.
Reflecting on your life so far, what achievement or milestone are you most proud of, and why?
Technology-wise, the last few years have been exceptionally exciting, so my highlight would have to be the recent product launch of our new Testifire XTR2 tester. It is an IoT/connected test device that combines the ability to test smoke and heat detectors with the functionality to create auto-generated test reports to meet our customer’s demand for better audit trails and compliance.
In the past, you probably wouldn’t have associated Detectortesters with cloud-portals and apps, but customer expectations change and as a company, we also had to go with the times. Playing my part in some serious digital transformation and leading Testifire XTR2 through from conception to launch has been very rewarding.
How can the fire industry be improved and what does it need for this to happen?
Bringing new talent and diversity to our industry must be up there and I am certainly not the first person to say that. However, I honestly think that the fire industry is becoming more and more attractive and new technology must be one big reason for this. As an industry, we must embrace innovation and opportunities that come with it faster. There are so many exciting things on the horizon, and I am sure that we have only seen the start of AI. With this comes the need to keep everyone’s skills up to date, so making continuous professional development (CPD) a real focus in our industry would be on my priority list.
In the next five years, do you have any career goals within the fire industry, and what steps are you taking to reach them?
That’s actually quite a difficult question to answer. 5 years is a long time and there is so much happening in our industry. When it comes to career planning and goals, I think you have to be quite flexible nowadays.
Having said that, the increasing pace of technological change and innovation will require faster development of fire codes and standards, not just here but all around the world. I want to play my part in driving this change for our industry and to do so, you have to get involved in working groups, invest quite a bit of time in CPD and learn from some very experienced experts in our industry.
People really do make our industry and I am always astonished at how willing people from all parts of the world are to pass on their knowledge and expertise.
What's the most valuable piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting their career, in the industry?
My first boss once told me “Oliver, don’t be scared to make mistakes, just learn from them. And if anyone ever tells you off, make sure it is for something you have tried rather than for something you haven’t done.”
Clearly some memorable wisdom. Personally, I would further refine it to say “If you don’t try you won’t know, and making mistakes is part of learning! Put your hand up, get involved, broaden your horizon – most people want to help you and you never know where it will take you.” Hopefully, this would make good advice for people starting their careers in any industry.
What is the most important area of work that the FIA is involved with (for you and the overall industry - if different)?
At the risk of sounding a bit ambitious, I think the FIA is, in a way, both an ambassador and a moral compass for the fire industry. The FIA stands for how fire safety should be done and promotes best practice not just in the UK but worldwide. The FIA’s involvement in shaping standards, producing guidance documents and sharing knowledge across the industry is invaluable. Not to mention, all the other work with other international fire associations to promote fire safety. I travel a fair amount internationally for work and I see firsthand how respected the FIA is.
What is your favourite hobby or personal interest outside of work?
Well, I have two. My sport is swimming and I have done it all my life. In all honesty, I need the exercise as my second hobby is cooking. I find cooking very relaxing and enjoy cooking for others – people coming together around food is just such a social thing. I love Mediterranean food and I make my own pasta in all shapes and sizes. In recent years, I have become a bit more adventurous and at the risk of living up to my national stereotype, I have even started to do my own Bratwurst and Frankfurter sausages.
What superpower would you have and why?
Being able to speak all languages in the world fluently. I guess, I was very fortunate having to learn several languages at school and I also lived in several countries to put them into practice, the UK being one of them. I think that you experience countries and their cultures so much more when you are able to communicate with people in their own language.
If you could go anywhere in the world for a holiday for three months all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
A road trip across the United States of America. My English textbooks at school covered the US a lot and places such as Yellowstone National Park, Monument Valley, The Great Lakes or Mount Rushmoor always looked so stunning and somehow mystical. Nowadays, I would also add Napa Valley and a few Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky to that list. And for someone who is fascinated by aviation and space exploration, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida would be a fabulous place to visit. Lots to see but maybe I would have to ask for 6 months to see it all.
Name 3 characters you would have to dinner for the perfect evening. One dead, one alive and one fictitious.
Prince Philip, over the decades he had met so many famous people from heads of state and iconic leaders to sports and movie stars. I bet he would have some great stories to tell you about them and he would do so in his legendary no-nonsense way. Arnold Schwarzenegger, just a fascinating life from humble beginnings in Austria to becoming an icon in his sport, a Hollywood legend and even Governor of California. More great stories. Finally, Jack Reacher for even more no-nonsense stories. By all accounts, all three love their food so that would make for a very enjoyable evening.
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