Seeking a


PLANET – and Career

Markus Binder’s relentless quest for self-improvement includes teaching himself English in 18 months by watching American TV shows such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory.

It is one of the recent milestones on a career path that has taken him from a job as a plumber at Magna’s Graz facility in Austria to becoming the company’s energy manager for Europe. Binder’s longtime interest in energy systems and commitment to sustainability extend to his home life as well.

When he and his wife Martina, a researcher for a pharmaceutical company, were searching for a new home in Austria, they settled on a place where they could walk, bike or ride the bus to work. They also buy green energy from renewable sources, another mindful step toward saving the planet.

My message is, if you have a clear goal, you can reach the goal, if you work every day, every week and every month. I got a lot of support from Magna along the way.

“My game-changing time at Magna came when I was 26 and worked with the Graz facility-planning team to plan and construct energy-saving projects,” he recalled. “The first project involved installing new efficient pumps for heating optimization. It inspired me. I thought, ‘I want to be the next project leader of the next energy-saving project. I want to install renewable energy systems at Magna.’”

He added: “My dream came true – more than 100% My job is to save energy and money while reducing CO2 emissions. I support all Magna plants in Europe to do this.”

He put lots of energy into achieving that goal.

From ages 27 to 35, Binder earned three college degrees, including two undergraduate degrees, one in business and engineering, and another in energy and environmental management. He followed those up with a master’s degree in renewable energy systems in 2017 from the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland in Austria. He attended night and weekend school for all of them while working full time.

Despite his achievements, Binder does not consider himself to be a role model.

“My message is, if you have a clear goal, you can reach the goal. If you work every day, every week and every month,” he said. “I got a lot of support from Magna along the way.”

His quest for self-improvement has taken some new twists.

Last year, he set the goal of running 1,000 kilometers or 621 miles. He surpassed that, logging 869 miles, according to the app on his mobile phone. Since he and his wife share a car, Binder has more free time during commutes, and has been listening to self-management and time-management podcasts from the U.S. All of those are somewhat easier than learning English by watching American TV.

“That wasn’t easy,” he said. “I started watching shows every day in my native language and then I watched them again in English with subtitles. It was hard to follow the actor Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory. He speaks very fast.”