Interview: “Consumption drop considered”

27.03.2020

The current decline in Europe-wide electricity consumption is significant and requires both European transmission system operators (TSOs) and Regional Security Coordinators (RSCs) to adapt to the lower feed-in rates. “In general, it is expected that the demand for electricity in 2020 will decrease noticeably due to the corona crisis. Some EU member states expect a drop of 10 to 15 percent of annual electricity demand,” explains Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based RSC in an interview with “ZfK” (Zeitung für Kommunale Wirtschaft), one of Germany’s leading trade journals of the energy and utility industry.

As regards the reaction of energy market participants, Neubauer comments that this decline is being considered in grid management and included in the daily forecasting processes by the TSOs and distribution system operators (DSOs). Neubauer sees no threat to supply security: “All suppliers and operators of power plants and critical infrastructures have emergency plans.” These are implemented immediately to ensure the operability of the infrastructures. A favourable factor is that there are currently no external influences, such as natural disasters or critical grid situations, to interfere with operational processes. “The main focus is currently on protecting the operational personnel in order to ensure 24/7 operation of the critical infrastructure levels.”

Needless to say, this also applies to TSCNET Services itself. Although the European RSCs do not have direct grid control responsibility, they do carry out the regional analysis of the transmission system together with the TSOs and act as an early warning system, which identifies possible bottlenecks and dangerous situations. Together with the TSO control centres, the RSC then initiates mitigation measures. To continue providing 24/7 support to TSOs, TSCNET has taken all actions to protect its staff from the pandemic. This includes sending almost all employees to work from home and special protective measures for the operations team. Since almost all TSCNET processes are already highly digitised, the current situation does not present the Munich RSC with extreme challenges.

Despite the pandemic-related decline in power consumption, Maik Neubauer expects no fundamental problems for grid security

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> Visit “ZfK” interview, in German (html, paywall)

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“The grid demands digitisation and AI”

02.03.2020

Europe’s high-voltage grid has a total length of around 485,000km and continuously feeds in approx. 1,152,017MW of electricity. The transnational grid can be considered as the backbone of all European critical infrastructures, whose reliable operation is essential for Europe to function as an economic zone. Since this aspect is too often neglected, Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, the Munich-based Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), has taken the opportunity to share his views on the prospects of the European electricity transmission system in an interview in the current issue (1/2020) of the “THEMEN:magazin”. This German-language medium bi-monthly provides reports on economic challenges and opportunities with a focus on energy policy.

Neubauer points out that, although the European interconnected grid is one of the most complex infrastructures in the world, there have so far hardly been any significant blackout situations – thanks to the cooperation of the European transmission system operators (TSOs), which has been well-established for decades. But since the energy transition is a pan-European project, the increasing flows of electricity from renewable sources do not stop at the border. European TSOs face the challenge of integrating numerous additional energy sources into the grid and operational control processes. Due to the predominance of nuclear and fossil power generation to date, the forecasting and control processes for optimum utilisation and balancing of the European grid have so far been rather deterministic, which is currently changing at a rapid pace with the volatile renewable energies.

Therefore, in addition to grid expansion and swift digitisation of control processes, increased European coordination of congestion and capacity management is essential. The EU network codes and, of course, the RSCs are crucial for this, as Neubauer emphasises. The RSCs receive data on expected grid situations from almost all European TSOs. This information is aggregated by the RSCs to provide an “early warning system” that identifies potential bottlenecks and threats to the grid. The RSCs thus support their TSO customers to counteract potential blackout situations in Europe by taking real- and near-time mitigation actions in their system operations and planning departments. Nevertheless, according to Neubauer, swift digitisation is inevitable to cope with the increasing data volumes in European grid management caused by the integration of renewable energy sources.

Without the seamless interaction of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT), secure grid management will hardly be possible in the future. Neubauer also predicts that without a high level of artificial intelligence (AI), the complexity in critical infrastructures will no longer be controllable by humans in the medium term. Therefore, AI will soon also radically change the energy sector. Neubauer is well aware, however, that IT security and cyber security must have the highest priority in order to safeguard developments in AI and protect highly critical infrastructures from misuse or even terrorism.

“Artificial intelligence will be indispensable” – in an interview with the “THEMEN:magazin”, Maik Neubauer presented his view on the perspectives of the European electricity transmission system

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> Visit “THEMEN:magazin” webpage, in German (html)

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New financial manager gives a good account

02.03.2020

At TSCNET Services, we are committed to providing the best possible service for our shareholding transmission system operators (TSOs). International understanding is thus not actually our primary corporate objective, but we are nevertheless encouraged by the perception of our new Senior Finance & Reporting Manager in the Corporate Services business unit, Houssein Ben Boujemaa. We were already able to recruit him in September last year. When asked what particularly intrigued him about TSCNET in addition to his personal career prospects, Houssein mentions the fact that we are a company with a good 60 employees, but above all 28 nationalities. We can only say: Welcome aboard, Houssein, and great that you have already added some additional facets to our diversity.

35-year-old Frenchman Houssein holds a master’s degree in Marketing and Applied Management from the IDRAC Business School in Paris and a master’s degree in International Business from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce et de Gestion de Paris. He has gained professional experience in various sectors. For example, he served as a Business Controller for France for the medical and travel security services company International SOS. At EBI SA in Paris, an affiliate of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, he oversaw the global corporate revenue planning and control for Africa and handled trade finance and loan syndication for the sub-Saharan Africa commodity market. And in the IT sector, Houssein was responsible for EMEA operations at the German branch of the computer software and service company PTC in Unterschleißheim near Munich.

For TSCNET, Houssein has been working successfully to improve financial processes and financial management since his start with us. Of course, he appreciates not only the international working environment at our premises, but also the dynamic growth of the company to which he wants to actively contribute. We are pleased that our finance area is already giving a good account of itself!

Houssein Ben Boujemaa is our new Senior Finance & Reporting Manager in the Corporate Services business unit

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RSC future perspectives: integrate, cooperate, and digitise

31.01.2020

The annual conference “Future Power Grids” (“Zukünftige Stromnetze”) brings together key players from the German energy sector with a focus on power grids to facilitate a prolific exchange between politics, research and industry. This was once again the case this year when, under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, energy experts met in the German capital of Berlin on 29 and 30 January. “Future Power Grids 2020” was technically chaired by Christian Schorn, Head of Asset Management and Operations at TSCNET shareholder TransnetBW, the transmission system operator (TSO) from the southwest of Germany.

Among the representatives of research institutions, ministries, authorities, NGOs and energy companies were Thomas Dederichs, head of energy policy at TSCNET shareholder and German TSO Amprion, and Maik Neubauer, one of the two managing directors of the Munich-based regional security coordinator (RSC) TSCNET Services. Mr. Dederichs spoke about the role of transmission grids in the further development of market design, while Mr. Neubauer, under the heading “The European Perspective – Integration of Renewables and Grid Security”, gave an overview of the history, services, tasks and challenges of European RSCs in general and TSCNET services in particular.

New Challenges for transmission infrastructures
Neubauer depicted the highly meshed European power transmission grid as one of the most complex critical infrastructures in the world and the function of the RSCs as an early warning system for the European TSOs to identify potential risks in the system. RSCs assess these risks continuously and in a coordinated manner and counteract potential congestions and power failures. The establishment of the RSCs was a reaction of the European Commission (EC) to a Europe-wide power outage in 2006 with under- and over-frequencies, which affected around 15 million people across Europe.

The increase in volatile renewable energies in the system further intensifies the need for the work of the RSCs. However, the tasks of the RSCs based on the third and fourth EC Clean Energy Package – e.g. security and risk analysis, capacity calculation, short term adequacy forecasts and longer-term outage planning coordination – depend on intensive cooperation between the European RSCs. The continuous collaboration of almost all European TSOs is essential, and the interests of the energy market and system security needs to be continuously balanced. In the long term, only the digitisation will be able to manage the increasing complexity of the grid. Neubauer points out the growing integration of OT (Operations technology) and IT (Information technology) layers and explicitly referred to the importance of artificial intelligence for congestions analysis and future network control and security.

Maik Neubauer presented RSC insights and future perspectives at the “Future Power Grids 2020” conference in Berlin (picture: Stefan Widua)

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> Visit conference website (html)

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Enterprise Architecture from Colombian Caribbean

04.12.2019

Miguel Ospina, the new Enterprise Architect in our Service Development Business Unit, is originally from Barranquilla, Colombia. You don’t know that place? Maybe you do: The famous singer Shakira sang about her birthplace in her worldwide No. 1 hit “Hips don’t lie” and in the work of the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, who spent part of his childhood and many years as a journalist in this city of millions in the northwest of the country, there are many descriptions of the lively commercial and industrial city, which is also known as one of the world’s largest carnival strongholds.

But back to Miguel! The 32-year-old has a bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering and a postgraduate degree in Enterprise Software Architecture. He then received the TOGAF certification (The Open Group Architecture Framework) and earned his master’s degree in Business Information Technology in 2018. As an Enterprise Architect at TSCNET Services, he strives to bring best practices for this discipline to life across the enterprise.

He has the experience to do this: Previously, Miguel worked as a Software Architect for an insurance related company and defined the roadmap and architecture of various relevant products such as underwriting and claims systems. Most recently, he worked for an airline as an Enterprise Architect leader and was responsible for business areas such as customer experience, marketing, and e-commerce. This also involved shaping the roadmap and governance for these areas, such as information systems and technology, and important future projects, such as digital transformation and e-commerce.

Miguel, a travel enthusiast, appreciates the fact that he is familiar with various industries and can now apply this experience to the energy sector and help shape TSCNET’s future architecture. We wish him all the best for his career with us and look forward to his work – fortunately, it does not have to be another world hit or a Nobel Prize in the end.

Miguel Ospina is the new Enterprise Architect in our Service Development Business Unit

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Honourable move to the Swiss customer

25.11.2019

While around 150,000 people with Portuguese citizenship live in Germany, almost twice as many live in the much smaller country of Switzerland. Usually we do not have the slightest problem with this at TSCNET Services in Munich, but now another Portuguese is moving to Switzerland, whom we will miss very much here as a first-class employee and great co-worker: Mário Martins, Senior Business Analyst in our Service Development Business Unit. He will join our client and shareholder Swissgrid and work in Aarau 38 km west of Zurich as a specialist for Capacity & Congestion Management. Chances are good that he will be collaborating with his former colleagues from TSCNET there, so “it’s not a goodbye, but a see you later,” Mário assures with a smile.

“I thank TSCNET and its employees for almost 5 wonderful years in this company,” Mário continues. “It is a great organisation to work in, and I am sure it will remain on its growth path and will become increasingly important as a pillar of European power transmission. And I personally feel nothing but honoured to have made a small contribution to this.”

He goes with a lot of good memories in his luggage. “I particularly liked the international, young, lively atmosphere in the company. The fact that most employees come from abroad and are far away from their families and friends also brings the team together outside office hours and leads to close friendships.”

He also appreciated management’s commitment to employee well-being and opportunities for personal development. He always felt that his voice was heard and respected and that his work was valued. Comradeship has always been a top priority and colleagues have always supported him when necessary. “I want to tell them that it was a great pleasure to work with them,” he says. He should know by now at the latest: The people here feel the same way. Despite all the melancholy about Mário’s departure, everyone wishes him all the best and much success with Swissgrid. It is good for everyone that Zurich is only 3 hours away from Munich.

TSCNET Services is saying goodbye to Mário Martins, who joins the Swissgrid

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> Visit Swissgrid webpage (html)

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Reaching the goal quickly with calculated risk

22.11.2019

Anyone who knows the Munich premises of TSCNET Services has probably also seen the photo wall with private photos of almost all employees. When the answer to the question “Do you have a photo for our wall, too?” is “Yes, but only one with me hanging head over feet out of a helicopter in the clouds”, you might think of a joke, but with him it’s none: Péter Szőcs, the new Data Center Support Specialist at TSCNET, not only has special professional skills, but also quite special hobbies. A native of Romania with Hungarian and German roots, he likes it fast and used to be an extremely successful professional motorcycle racer competing against the world’s best. Today he rather wants to go high and enjoy free fall as a skydiver. Here, too, he has an impressive international network and is well known on the scene.

For him, his personal and professional motivation is described by the fact that if he stands two and a half miles above the ground in an open aircraft door and can take a step into the empty space himself, then he could do anything. How can this be understood? Well, there is a saying circulating in the skydiving community that hints at the special magic of this sport: “For those who jump, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not jump, no explanation is possible.”

High speed and an experienced handling of risks also benefit Péter at work. In addition to studying history and journalism, he holds a bachelor’s degree in mechatronics and computer science. He has worked as a senior IT technical consultant on unified communication and contact centre solutions, e.g. for BMW, and as the Head of IT/Networking of the Transylvania International Film Festival.

Today he sees himself as a motivated and versatile professional with many years of IT experience, who is always looking forward undertaking new and exciting challenges. Together with his colleagues from the IT Infrastructure Services team, he wants to integrate and implement solutions that help TSCNET employees become more efficient in their business operation to increase productivity. “I want to be an active part of something that has an impact beyond our lives, where the focus is outward and the mission is more than the bottom line,” explains Péter. If this happens at a proverbial breakneck speed and helps the company climb dizzying heights, the co-workers will be the last to object!

TSCNET Services welcomes Péter Szőcs

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“Welcoming people from all over the world”

04.11.2019

Munich is growing and growing, also because many people from abroad come here for an attractive job. According to a study by the consulting firm Mercer published in spring, Munich is the city with the third-highest quality of life worldwide for expatriates. Of the almost 1.6 million inhabitants of Munich, more than one in four has a foreign passport. In addition to the quality of life, people from abroad especially appreciate the leisure activities, the environmental quality, the security and, last but not least, the career opportunities.

The vast majority of TSCNET Services employees also come from abroad – currently from almost 30 different countries. Jamilette Johnston, or Jamie for short, knows this situation well. Originally from NYC, she has lived in Miami, Madrid and moved to Munich almost ten years ago. She runs one of the most successful blogs for foreign employees and their families in Munich: “City Starlings”. The motto: “Inspiring Expats”! We met Jamie for a talk.

Hello, Jamie, let’s start right at the beginning: What is it like to move to Munich from abroad?

Moving to Munich, or any city for that matter, can turn out to be an amazing or a daunting experience. It depends on so many factors: If this is your first move abroad, it can certainly be overwhelming for anyone. If you are moving from a city with a warm climate, you might find the cold winter months in Munich challenging. If you move from a city with a lot of pollution or dirty streets, then Munich will seem utopian. It’s all relative, isn’t it?
But really, the only factor that will make this a successful expat experience is YOU. You and only you will take what life has to offer and turn it into the best adventure you can embark on.

Many do not come alone but have their partner with them. I read the following line from you: “A happy Spouse, makes a happy House!” What do you mean by that?

It is especially hard for the trailing spouse, who has left behind work, family, friends, an entire support system to start anew. I suggest using this opportunity to travel, to learn the local language, to meet new people and immerse yourself in new cultures. It is easier said than done, but maybe all your sacrifices lead you to finding your life’s purpose.

We also often experience that the partner is a very vital support when settling in. Who or what else can help one?

Luckily, the city offers countless opportunities for expats. Munich has become a very multi-culti city, welcoming people from all over the world. Due to this, there are several international groups you can join, such as Internations, Meetup, Munich International Women’s Club, etc. You can also volunteer for nonprofits, such as, ReDI School or SMILE – English Choir. Meet with like-minded people, but don’t forget to meet the locals as well. They possess a wealth of information.

That’s a good cue. We are convinced that we as an employer and especially the co-workers can be a great support, but we also always advise to build something up outside the office and the circle of co-workers and to take advantage of the many opportunities here.

You are spoilt for choice, just take the city’s cultural offer: I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but museums, opera, ballet, theatre, concerts, there is so much of a selection throughout the year, that you cannot get bored. There’s something for every taste.
Many times, your preferences will adapt to your new surroundings. Since coming to Munich, the outdoors has become my playground. I took up hiking and skiing, which was new and scary at first. But with the pre-Alps and Alps so close, I had to give them a chance and have fallen in love with nature. Walchensee, Benediktenwand and Tegernsee are great places for hiking. And there are so many great ski resorts like Wilder Kaiser, Ski Amade and Zillertal. For me, that had another positive side effect: This has made it easier for me to cope with the winter months 

That must have been a pretty big change. In the past, on a beautiful winter weekend, half of Munich was somewhere on a ski slope in the Bavarian uplands or in Tyrol. What role do the neighbouring countries play for expats?

It has been amazing to discover the beauty of these neighbouring countries – Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and so many more. Take advantage of their proximity. You can discover so many amazing places inside and outside Germany by car, but also by train. The “Bayern-Ticket” is one of the best kept travel tips – it can save families and large groups big bucks when traveling through Bavaria.
If you prefer to stay closer to home, Munich has much to offer: Oktoberfest, Tollwood and Auer Dult are only some of the many street festivals throughout the year. Get ready for the upcoming Christmas season! Christmas Markets usually start on the Friday before Sunday Advent and run through Christmas Eve. There are many throughout Germany offering spiced wine, food and local crafts. You can’t help being affected by the festive lights and cheerful mood of the locals.

What is your favourite among the Christmas markets?

In Munich, my favourite ones are the Medieval Market in Wittelsbacher Platz and the Christmas Village in the Munich Residenz.

Is there another tip for expats that we definitely shouldn’t forget?

Good that you ask, otherwise I would have almost forgotten the annual “Expat In The City” event – a very important event for expats. The next date is pending – so keep an eye out for updates on their website, which additionally has a lot of helpful resources for expats.
Also, venture out about town. Be a tourist in your new city. Munich is small, but there is much to see. Opt to travel by bike as much as you can. Bike paths throughout the city make it safe and practical to get around. But make sure you learn a few road rules before you do though.
And don’t give up when things get tough! I have had my ups and downs, it is not always easy. But I’ve slowly built up my support system consisting of both expats and locals alike. This balance has helped me in my own journey, and I have never regretted my move to Munich. I hope these tips help you settle into your new home.

Many thanks for the interview and all the tips, Jamie. And all the best with City Starlings!

“City Starlings” by Jamie Johnston is one of the most successful blogs for foreign employees and their families in Munich

Linkup
> Visit Jamie’s blog City Starlings (html)
> Visit City Starlings on Instagram (html)

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RSC Conference 2019: Rush to Copenhagen

08.10.2019

The weather turned out typically Nordic with quite stormy wind and some rain, but otherwise host Nordic RSC could be more than happy about a great success and a fruitful gathering of our industry – about 250 participants from all over Europe came to the third “RSC Conference” today in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. The event was staged by Nordic RSC at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located in the Copenhagen Towers, which also house the offices of the Regional Security Coordinator (RSC) of the power transmission system operators (TSOs) of Denmark (TSCNET shareholder Energinet), Finland (Fingrid), Norway (Statnett), and Sweden (Svenska Kraftnät).

One of the key sentences fell quite early: “Nobody knows the future, but it will be electric!” In the European energy system that is already interconnected and will become even more so in future, coordination of cross-border electricity flows is one of the most crucial tasks for TSOs. To a large extent, this task is performed by Europe’s RSCs, with Coreso (based in Brussels) and TSCNET Services (Munich) as pioneers from 2013 onwards. In 2015, SCC for south eastern Europe followed in Belgrade and in 2016, Baltic RSC as well as Nordic RSC were established.

A good idea becomes a tradition
The RSCs have been holding conferences on system security since 2017, co-organised by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). TSCNET hosted the first RSC conference entitled “ElSeC” (Electricity Security Coordination) in Munich and one year later Coreso invited to “Power Coordination Europe” in Brussels.

The motto of “RSC 2019” was “Act locally, coordinate regionally, think European”. The event resulted in a closing speech by the CEO of the Finnish TSO Fingrid, Jukka Ruusunen, discussing how RSCs support efficient markets that in turn support security of supply. This core discussion was complemented by other general panel discussions and also by parallel, partly interactive sessions to cover as many interesting and relevant topics as possible. The topics were, for instance, “The Green Transition: The reason for change and innovation in TSOs”, “Ensuring the right competences in an RSC perspective”, “Critical Grid Situation Communication”, “Regional adequacy forecasting” or “Balancing projects and reserve sizing”. The key speakers came from the industry, EU institutions, markets and civil society.

Thomas Egebo, CEO of TSCNET shareholder Energinet, the Danish TSO, welcomed the participants and illustrated the importance of the regions using the example of the Nordic region. The ENTSO-E strategy paper on “Enhanced TSO coordination for Europe” was presented by Joachim Vanzetta, Director System Control at the German TSO and TSCNET shareholder Amprion and Chair of the ENTSO-E Board. Eryk Kłossowski, CEO of the Polish TSO PSE, and Ben Voorhorst, COO of the Dutch-German TSO TenneT – both are TSCNET shareholders – participated together with colleagues from further TSOs in the general discussion: “TSO regional cooperation and establishment of RCCs – learning from best practices”. This discussion was moderated by Laurent Schmitt, the Secretary-General of ENTSO-E.

Increasingly complex with rapidly rising requirements
Maik Neubauer, one of the two Managing Directors of TSCNET Services, held a presentation on “RSC complexities and future challenges”, focusing on the intricacy of the challenges faced by RSCs in the continuous implementation of services, in RSC collaboration and in the adaptation and integration of requirements from the EU “Clean Energy for all Europeans Package” (CEP).

On the conference website, all speeches and discussions were broadcast via live stream. Soon all presentations will be available for download as well as numerous photos from the event. All good things come in threes, as the saying goes. The third edition of the RSC Conference was indeed great, but we are all the more looking forward to next year.

Around 250 participants attended this year’s RSC Conference on 8 October in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen

Linkup
> Visit RSC Conference 2019 webpage, with videos (html)
> See conference picture gallery (Flickr, html)

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New hire: Explorer with a technical thirst for discovery

07.10.2019

Christian Paúl Suárez is new in our Service Operations business unit but familiar with electricity market issues. The 26-year-old Ecuadorian, who prefers to be called Paúl by his middle name, is curious to experience the differences between the South American and the European electricity markets. At TSCNET Services, Paúl should find the ideal conditions for this and advance his own career together with his new company. We warmly welcome our new Junior Operations Manager.

In the major Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil, Paúl visited the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) and completed his studies as an electrical engineer in power systems. Before he graduated from the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja in Spain with a Master of Business Administration specialised in project management, he worked as “profesional de estudios económicos” (professional in economic assessment) for the Ecuadorian state power company Corporación Nacional de Electricidad, the country’s largest energy corporation with more than 1.2m end customers.

Currently, Paúl is demonstrating his ambitions by attending an online programme for a master’s degree in Renewable Energy and Energy Sustainability from the Universitat de Barcelona in Spain alongside his new job at TSCNET. As Junior Operations Manager it is his declared goal to become familiar with the functioning of the European market and network and to cooperate with the company in the management of the European interconnected energy environment.

Paúl finds not only his new company but also its location in Munich attractive. The world-famous German natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt thought Ecuador was “the most interesting region in the world” because of the “high snow-capped peaks, the active volcanoes, their vegetation and the customs of their inhabitants” – we are curious to see what remarkable things Paúl will discover here in Bavaria. The Oktoberfest, which ended yesterday, might have given some impressions.

TSCNET Services has hired Christian Paúl Suárez from Ecuador as Junior Operations Manager in the Service Operations business unit

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