My name is Benedicta Margaretha Freifrau von Löwendal. Many people now see me as the founder who laid the foundations of our company just under 300 years ago. I am delighted to have this opportunity to share some insights into my work as a female entrepreneur in the 18th century in my adopted home of Lauchhammer in Brandenburg, Germany.
1. Could you tell us when you joined TAKRAF Group, explain in a few sentences what your role is, your responsibilities and give us some of your experience?
Many people consider me the founder of TAKRAF in 1725. At that time, my main focus was on establishing and running the iron hammer mill that gave the town of Lauchhammer its name. I had the privilege of being one of the first female entrepreneurs in what is now the state of Brandenburg, and I ran the company with great dedication. However, my commitment went far beyond business management, and it was important for me to take on social responsibility too. In addition to building up the ironworks and creating permanent jobs, I was strongly committed to promoting school education and establishing almshouses.
2. What has been your personal highlight at TAKRAF Group and perhaps also outside of work?
My personal highlight was undoubtedly the founding of the iron hammer mill in Lauchhammer, which developed into a profitable business and made the town famous throughout the world. Outside of my professional life, however, it was very important to me to improve the living conditions of the people in our region in a sustainable way. Life was not easy for many since agriculture was not very productive due to the sandy nature of the soil, and keeping livestock was almost impossible thanks to the soft marshy meadows. Through our mill, we created permanent jobs, built up an intact system of agricultural self-sufficiency and provided company housing. I also put a lot of effort into promoting education and building the castle church.
3. What do you enjoy the most about what you do at TAKRAF Group?
The opportunity to be independent, create something new and drive the economic development of our region meant a lot to me. At the same time, it was extremely fulfilling to see how my social initiatives, such as promoting education and creating jobs, had a positive impact on people's lives.
4. Why is mining a stimulating sector for women to enter?
Mining or even the metals industry are dominated by men. As a woman, you have the opportunity to be a pioneer and drive change. Even in my day, I was able to show that women are capable of successfully managing complex projects, achieving economic success and being socially engaged at the same time.
5. If you had to give one piece of advice to a young person on how to enter and succeed in the world of work, and in the mining sector in particular, what would it be?
My advice to young people is not to be limited by traditional gender roles or societal expectations. Follow your passion, gain knowledge and skills in the field you are passionate about, and have the courage to take on challenges. Mining offers many opportunities for a successful and fulfilling career.
This article is the start of our ongoing series that looks at the incredible women in mining at TAKRAF Group. Stay tuned for inspiring and personal interviews with our international colleagues.
Innovation out of tradition – It pays to talk to a specialist!