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If you choose the hard way, persistence will get you help.

2024. 02. 08.

12,000 people, 12,000 stories. Although our focus within the walls of Audi is first and foremost on the job, we are all human and we all came to the company with a story to tell. In our everyday lives, our common goals at work come first, and our individual stories are also a source of great strength and motivation.

For example, do you know Tamás Birkás from Vehicle Assembly? Following his motorbike accident, Tamás has been working with increasing vigour in recent months to get out of his wheelchair. We were sure he would succeed. Why? Because he has never backed down from a big challenge in his life. Tamás grew up in state care, went to university unaided, worked hard to get to Audi Hungaria and establish his current life circumstances – yet he told us all about it with a smile. Read his story.

Tamás Birkás: Even if not consciously, the desire to fight has been inside me since childhood. The truth is that for me, it was often the only thing that, no matter what circumstances I lived in, could always push me forward. After my parents’ divorce, my brothers and sisters and I lived in difficult circumstances, so from the age of 7 I was placed in state care in Pápa.

When I was enrolled in primary school, I could immediately become a member of the football team, which I excelled at, but to be honest, I was very behind in my studies compared to the others – I struggled. But in the group home, I noticed that if you want to learn, the educators give you all the support and opportunities to do so. I wanted to do better, so I sat down very diligently with my books every afternoon. My educators saw my effort and perhaps also that I was smart enough to improve, so as a motivation they promised me that if I achieved a 4.5 average, I would get a separate room. I studied hard! I had my own room until I was 18, and from then on I never had an average below 4.5.

If you choose the hard way, persistence will get you help.

In the home, I learned that if they see you taking action for your goal and wanting to achieve it, they will support you. Since then, I’ve believed this and I think about it often. For example, I asked for extra Maths lessons at the home for Christmas last year and I got it because they saw that I was doing my best to live a normal life. Maybe that could help me lay the foundation for my engineering career.

Meanwhile, I also joined the Pápa football club. They accepted me and loved me very much, both in the football team and at school. I had 2 training sessions a day, so I would wake up early in the morning, walk 30 minutes to the football field for morning practice, then to the secondary school, then practice again and walk home. I never got home before 6 p.m. I had “normal” kids as friends, who often invited me to family gatherings for example to celebrate Christmas with them. It was nice, but also hard. But it also motivated me to build a future for myself where I could live a life like these friends.

I went to the Petőfi Sándor Secondary School in Pápa, where I learned IT, maths and physics in increased number of lessons. At that time I was not excellent in these subjects, but my teachers suggested this direction to me and I thought it could be important for my further studies. In time, school and football went well, so I had to make a decision. I really wanted to be a footballer but I had no financial backing, so I decided it was more secure for my future if I chose university. After graduation I applied to Széchenyi University to study transport engineering.

This is where the real struggle began, as I had to move out of the group home because of my age.

I got into the university dorm, but I had no job and no scholarship for the first semester. My friends helped me, but I didn’t want to borrow money, because life had taught me that I had to do everything on my own. So I didn’t give up, I went to a student employment agency and asked for a job that would pay me the most and where I could get the money at least every two weeks. The amount and type of work didn’t matter, only that I could finish university. That’s how I got a permanent night shift at Federal Mogul. I worked 3 to 4 nights a week and sat in class during the day. It was very hard, but every two weeks I had my salary in my pocket to pay for my dorm fees, internet and bus pass.

At the university job fair, Audi’s stand attracted my attention already in the first year, I knew I wanted to work there, but I needed 4 completed semesters to apply. I could hardly wait for the time to pass, I wanted to go. It seemed like a distant dream, but day by day I was getting closer to that dream. After the third semester I wrote my CV and applied. I was accepted. I got into Vehicle Assembly, I absolutely loved it there. I was in such a good environment that I couldn’t have imagined before. My manager and all the other employees working there, the assembly line staff, the line staff, the TK, the engineers, everyone took me in and I was able to learn from them.

I’m very grateful! This area has shown me that I do have a future!

As soon as I got into Audi, my life was on the right track. Month by month, I saw more and more possibilities in front of me, how I was supported and how my life could get better. After I finished my studies, I wanted to join the company full time, but I was given the opportunity to do so in a new area for me, in the press shop. I was emotionally affected to leave vehicle assembly behind, but I also had exciting challenges and experience in the area of press shop complaints handling. Within a short time, however, I could go back to the dashboard assembly line as a process engineer, to Vehicle Assembly.

Since I've been with Audi I've had no problems. In my life, there was a time when four of us were sleeping in one bed, and now I live in my own house with a yard and a car. It’s amazing to me how it has all worked out for me. For my 30th birthday, I managed to pass my motorbike test and gave myself the bike I had wanted for a long time. I’ve never been into speeding, it has always been about the feeling that riding a motorbike gives you, and being a technical person I’ve always loved the sound of a motorbike. But 25 August was a big break in my life. 

I visited a friend near Lake Balaton on my bike, and then I left for home around five. Leaving Farkasgyepű, there was some kind of dirt on the road, which I didn’t notice and I rode on it at 50–60 km/h. Consequently, I skidded into the crash barrier. Fortunately a doctor was driving behind me in a car and immediately started to stabilise my condition. I was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. Since then I have been recovering in a wheelchair, but my goal is to fully recover. My mobility was severely restricted after the accident, so I was unable to go to work. I was terrified of losing my job, but my boss and my segment manager called me almost immediately.

They contacted me, told me that I belonged here and that I shouldn’t worry.

My current job wouldn’t allow for permanent teleworking, but with the help of the managers at the vehicle assembly, the company’s health management team and HR, I can do my work from home. They have established my online presence on every possible platform. That’s how I participate in everything from the morning shop floor to team meetings and all professional meetings. For example, when the area held a workshop, a camera was used to allow me to not just hear but also see what was going on. I know this is a very big deal and I’m extremely grateful to everyone. I’m working on a model integration project, so it is very important for me to be able to attend all the meetings and stay up to date. If I hadn’t been offered the possibility to work from home, my sick leave would have surely driven me crazy. Now, my momentum is still going strong, and my primary goal is to properly get back on my feet as soon as possible and get on with my life as usual. I can’t imagine not being able to make it! Why wouldn’t I? That’s the way it has worked so far. I got into trouble and then step by step started to recover. I go to the hospital in Pápa 4–5 times a week for rehabilitation care.

And my biggest goal at the company is to successfully integrate the two new models on the assembly line. This should happen in a way that is not only good for me and the targets, but also to create the best possible conditions for the assembly line colleagues working there to assemble the new model. I always have this goal in mind, and that’s what I strive for. I very often involve the assembly line staff in the development of the processes. I join the assembly line, I try out the workstations, to get a feel for what it’s like to be there. I miss this type of work a lot, but with the conditions I have now, the most important thing is that production can go on without downtime and that my colleagues can do their job to their satisfaction.

Often I don’t even think of it as work. For me it has always been a good feeling to go to work and to be there. I work with the people I enjoy meeting on a daily basis, so I can’t wait to get back. The guys in the area, the foremen, the engineers – they’re my family.

At the Christmas dinner, when I spotted one of the FTLs closest to me, I was in tears (smiles). I’m looking forward to being back among my colleagues and I’m very grateful to have such an employer and community of colleagues behind me.


We wish you a speedy recovery and good health, Tamás!

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