Life never goes according to plan. In my article, I’ll tell you about the misfortunes and fortunate coincidences that brought me from environmental engineer to head of the Immission Control business unit.

An accident with consequences

When I was young, my goal was very clear: I wanted to study. However, since I preferred to finish school with a good intermediate school-leaving certificate rather than a bad Abitur, I chose the path of an apprenticeship. I was interested in the construction industry, so my plan was to study architecture or civil engineering. My wish was to train as a draftsman in a renowned company. However, after I explained to the managing director my plans regarding my studies and my career plans, he first suggested that I do a practical apprenticeship. I successfully completed the apprenticeship as a carpenter. Subsequently, I started a second apprenticeship as a draftsman at the same company. Then the accident happened.

Within half a year I had two serious motorcycle accidents. Due to the health consequences of the two motorcycle accidents, I had to abandon my second training. I completed my technical high school diploma (Fachabitur) and was finally able to study! The construction industry was very crowded at that time, so I preferred to look elsewhere. In the process, I came across the environmental protection course in Bingen. It was a promising course of study and job security was very important to me. So had my dream of studying come true? Not quite at first…

First job as an environmental engineer with a surprising offer

At the beginning, my studies seemed very broad; biology and zoology were not exactly my areas of interest.

But my motto has always been: If I start something, I’ll finish it.

Vor einem Messwagen in 2009

My studies

And I really enjoyed the technical part of my studies.

Dealing with technical issues – that was something I could identify with! During a lecture, a professor drew my attention to TÜV Rheinland.

So I took the initiative and applied there for my twelve-week compulsory internship. I liked my time there so much that I also wrote my diploma thesis at the company.

In 2005, I successfully completed my studies as an environmental protection engineer.

Working in Qatar in 2005

My supervisor was so pleased with my work that he stood up for me and offered me a temporary position as an engineer for two years.

Then, on my very first day, the real kicker came: at lunch, the managing director asked me if I could imagine supporting a TÜV Rheinland team abroad, in Qatar, for six weeks.

I am very fond of traveling anyway and like challenges – of course I said yes!

After this exciting experience, many more followed.

Bei einem Einsatz in Qatar in 2005
Mit Kollegen bei einem Einsatz in Hongkong in 2011

My job as head of the Immission Control business unit

I started as a project engineer in a measurement team of three people (including me) and took over more and more responsibility in the daily business. Besides the training of a new colleague, I took over the leadership of a measurement team and the project management of national and international projects shortly after. In 2009, I was then appointed team leader. This new role involved the technical management of a team of about seven people (without disciplinary responsibility). In 2015, I was then appointed business unit manager in the area of plant monitoring in the immission control department and today I manage (technically and disciplinary) a team of 20 colleagues.

My day starts with a lot of emails – I answer customer inquiries, schedule team meetings, arrange customer appointments, create and approve offers, and check reports. Still, I get out of my office often enough. On the one hand, I visit customers regularly to consult with them, give them technical advice, and plan new projects. And on the other, I still take part in on-site audits. It’s important to me that I stick to the basics.

My advice to anyone with management responsibility is to maintain a practical connection.

Auf dem 4. Expert Meeting in 2019

The annual Expert Meeting

This has the advantage of being able to exchange technical information with team members much better.

Another highlight of my job is the planning of the annual Expert Meeting “Emission Monitoring at Facilities Requiring a Permit”.

This is an event that I initiated and where the organization lies within our department.

I’ll tell you more about this in a separate post that will soon appear here on the career blog.

What is needed in the field of immission control

I don’t see my job as work, but as a vocation. I am enthusiastically dedicated to the topic of air quality monitoring and it is great to be able to make a difference professionally – whether by imparting knowledge as a speaker or in practice together with my team. Our team spirit is excellent. When I started, there was quite a lot of competition among each other. Today, the atmosphere is very good and sometimes even amicable. In 2019, our last teambuilding event took place – a rafting tour on the Rhine.

Bei der Eröffnung unserer neuen Niederlassung in Herne in 2018

What matters:

The good atmosphere within the team is very important to me personally and the key to success.

What I like about my position is that I can organize my own time. I coordinate my appointments myself, and home office is also possible. I get all the freedom I need from my supervisor. For example, I always work from home on Thursdays because I look after my children after school on that day. This “job” has certainly taught me a lot about team leadership and motivation. 😉
What is required in addition to these skills in our field? In any case, commitment, willingness to travel, and the desire to familiarize yourself with an interesting subject area. A friendly, customer-oriented approach is also not to be underestimated. And, of course, technical knowledge in the field of emission monitoring of industrial plants.

Do you want to learn more about the work in my team in immission control? Then be sure to check out the articles by my colleagues Alexander Heppner and Thomas Singh. Our working students Denise Radermacher and Dennis Höhn also have exciting things to report.

All of you who would like to apply – here you can find our job postings.

We are looking forward to meeting you!


Thorsten Noll

Thorsten Noll

Head of Technical Instructions on Air Quality (TA-Luft) and IED Systems in the Immission Control Department at TÜV Rheinland Energy

Thorsten Noll is Head of the Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control (TA-Luft) and IED Systems Business Unit in the Immission Control Department at TÜV Rheinland Energy. The focus is on emission monitoring of industrial plants. He lives in Woldert-Hilgert in the nearby Westerwald region and enjoys spending time in the countryside, where he is also privately involved in nature conservation and environmental protection. However, he is also regularly drawn to the road to go on a tour on his motorcycle.
His career tip for you is: be determined, take on challenges, be open to change and always think positively!

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