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Department of Geography

Behind the scenes with the people people ...

Next in our series looking at some of the more hidden roles at GIUZ, we talked to Lukas Japp and Yvonne Wagener from our Human Resources team. Together, Lukas and Yvonne handle hundreds of staff-related questions in GIUZ every year. But who are they and what do they do? We dropped by and asked them a few questions ...

Yvonne Wagener, Lukas Japp

First of all, what are your tasks?

Yvonne: We’re responsible for handling everything to do with employment – appointments, promotions, changes and leaves. People ask us planning related questions – how much will it cost to hire someone for a project, how quickly can I do it? In general, we do a lot of administration and paperwork! There are also a number of special cases, for example about employment insurance and taxes. And we work closely with the UZH Human Resources team.

Lukas: We also help with many of the issues that arise when people are employed here at GIUZ – things like working time, employment law and dealing with more complicated cases. This could be helping to prepare the case for a change in function (and thus salary) or providing help and advice on things like parental leave, long-term sickness or opportunities for on-the-job training.

Yvonne: There are also many smaller but important tasks, especially when people start their jobs, such as making sure they can get into the building or have access to a telephone.

That sounds quite complicated – how were you trained?

Lukas: I originally worked in the UZH HR team, and I qualified there as an HR expert.

Yvonne: I moved from administration generally to HR, and qualified at GIUZ as an HR expert. We both passed the federal HR Fachperson exam.

Given all that, how does a normal day at work look for you?

Lukas: There isn’t really a normal day. One constant is working through incoming requests, which we get in a ticketing system. There is also a lot of personal contact with people, and dealing with requests where people need information quickly, for example for budgeting.

Yvonne: In the end, it’s always administration. There are some things that have a rhythm, like hiring new tutors, or many new PhD candidates starting in autumn. Since Corona, e-mail and Teams is in heavy use, and I work from home some of the time.

What do you like about working at GIUZ?

Yvonne: People at GIUZ come from very different cultural backgrounds. It’s nice to see how some people arrive shy and reserved, and how they come out of their shell over time.

Lukas: GIUZ is big, and culturally diverse. This means that professionally we get to work on lots of different cases. Everyone is really nice – the atmosphere is supportive, and the Department cares about its staff – which after all is the point of our job.

And last, but not least, what do you do when you aren’t working?

Lukas: I really enjoy playing the electric bass. And I have two kids, so I spend time with my family. Picking them up from childcare at the end of the day is an important constant.

Yvonne: I’m a family person. I love cooking and baking, and occasionally doing a bit of sport, but not overdoing it!

Ross Purves