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47 years at Helvetia – looking back on good times

Karin Mühlemann began her apprenticeship at Helvetia back in 1968. She has since remained loyal to her employer for 47 years, but will retire next year. She tells us what she’s still got planned.

25  February 2016, text: Isabella Awad, photos: Tony Baggenstos, Solothurn

Karin Mühlemann has worked at Helvetia for 47 years.
Karin Mühlemann has worked at Helvetia for 47 years – in this report she tells us why she has never tired of it.

“I always planned to stop at 60. Then I saw colleagues who flagged a lot after retirement, and I wanted to avoid that. Four years ago I agreed with my supervisors that I would reduce my hours to 80 percent and thus get used to the idea of leaving gradually.

When I think back to the year 1968 when I started my apprenticeship at what was then Helvetia Feuer in Solothurn, I can’t help but chuckle. I applied to a law firm and to Helvetia. The reason I chose Helvetia was that the secretary of what was then the General Agent had lots of colourful telephone books – in contrast, everything looked very dreary at the law firm. I was so naïve. The apprentices today are well-informed and know what they want.

It was nice that Helvetia always supported me throughout my career. I really liked our team spirit at the General Agency. That was also the reason why I came back to Helvetia after a stint at a construction company following my apprenticeship. Originally I wanted to be a paediatric nurse, but I enjoyed the customer contact in my job at Helvetia so much that I quickly gave up on that idea.

I was the first woman in Switzerland to complete the insurance diploma with the additional qualification in technical insurance. Although I always worked at the General Agency, I started new roles around every seven years. The position I held for longest was Head of Sales Support. My experience shows that customers always like to have a person to contact. Once they know your name, then they’ll call you time and again.

I’m a big fan of Greece. My colleagues tease me about it a lot. I have had many remarkable experiences in connection with this country and I’m amazed at how people are dealing with the crisis. I also speak a few words of the language – perhaps I’ll take another Greek course once I retire.

Thinking about the time after July 2016, I look forward to more freedom. It was important to me to retire in summer so that I can go outside and enjoy the balcony. I will be able to read, crochet, knit, cook or bake to my heart’s content, and listen to a bit of Glenn Miller at the same time. I’ll miss my colleagues at Helvetia, and I’ll miss the daily rhythm. If I could go back, I’d probably follow the same path.”

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