We continue to honor National Mentoring Month, with our third mentor interview, Gudrun Opper!

21 January 2015 | News

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for a living.After working in the airline industry in Germany I had the opportunity to experience “the other side of airline services” and helped to open a new transit lounge for airline travelers at Washington Dulles International Airport in 2009. To experience working in another environment and in another country was very exciting and every day started full of surprises. Today I’m taking care of our airline customers. Our facility is responsible for 15 international airline flight caterings and our employees are coming from 26 different countries. Due to this global environment I sometimes feel like working in New York.

Who has inspired you most in your life?

During my time with Lufthansa I met a very inspiring person whom everybody loved to listen to and learn from. His name is Dierk Liess and he was assisting a member of the board to solve difficult situations whenever needed. Dierk was for me a captain with a big heart who would never forget to look out for his crew and make sure that the weakest man on board would be taken care of. When he agreed to be my mentor I was the “happiest soul” on earth. We are still keeping in touch and I value his ideas and reflections very much.

In my private life my family who is living in Germany is passing lots of energy to me. When I traveled to another country for the first time my late father passed following quote to me:

“When your children are young you shall give them the roots of the tree to become grounded and strong. When your children growolder you shall give them the wings of the bird that they may never be afraid of flying.”

I honor the love that my mom and my brothers are sending to me – even I’m geographically distant to them.

What would you say is the most rewarding part of being a mentor?

The most rewarding part of being a mentor is to connect two different lives with each other. Sometimes my mentee reminds me of the time in my life when I was in her age. Yet there are so many more expectations and struggles that she has to deal with. I remember the day when we read “A series of random thoughts” during our mentoring session and everybody was asked to write down personal feelings after hearing about the shootings in Miami, Ferguson and other US cities. When I looked at my paper my first words were “sadness and frustration”. One mentee next to me wrote down “numbness, helplessness” and I realized how much strength each mentee needs to continuously strive forward to his personal goal in life. If we can open new doors and point of views for our mentee and continue to learn from each other during the time that our life paths cross – this will be one of the most rewarding times for me.

Where would you be today without mentors in your life?

A mentor represents to me a person who accepts you unconditionally and his only concern is to help you to grow and enjoy your life on this earth. Without the love of my parents I would have become a very different person than I am today. Without the appreciation of my mentor who always listened so carefully and reflected my thoughts and ideas I wouldn’t have looked out for an opportunity to “give back”. Mentors are the roots of the tree and the wings of the bird in one man’s soul and I wish everybody more than one mentor in his life.