18th April 2024

People at ALPLA: Interview with Harpa Johannsdottir

At the ALPLA corporate headquarters in Hard, Austria, there is no need to introduce Harpa Johannsdottir (age 37). This Icelandic national ensures that all employees are fit and healthy. In recent years, she has developed the ALPLAsport programme and is also responsible for the well-being of the workforce. We talked to Harpa about the importance of exercise. 

Harpa Johannsdottir in the ALPLAfit Gym

Harpa Johannsdottir in our company´s headquarters gym.

Hello Harpa, thank you for taking time out for this interview. Can you tell us what your duties are at ALPLA? 

For the past two years, I have been responsible for the ALPLAsport programme at the headquarters in Hard, which involves overseeing several projects. For example, I organised weekly classes and the Fit for Future programme, where I coordinated exercise activities for our apprentices. I also worked on making the food offered at the site healthier. The great success of the Seidl@Work machines (weekly menu to heat up and eat) shows that this is very much appreciated by the colleagues. I joined the Learning and Development team in March. I will continue to look after ALPLAsport, however, we are also working on developing even bigger concepts to support the health and well-being of our employees. I am really looking forward to this.

The ALPLAsport programme is very extensive. Can you tell us what activities are taking place under it?

As part of the ALPLAsport programme, we currently offer 17 courses per week at our HQ in Hard. From strength training to Pilates, ‘Back & Fit’ or yoga as well as ‘Boxing Fit’, we try to find something suitable for everyone in order to boost the well-being of our employees. 

It is important to me that we not only appeal to colleagues who are active athletically, but also have an offering that motivates beginners. In addition to the regular courses, we also have ‘pop-up’ training sessions which we only offer 1–3 times. This gives our employees the opportunity to try out various exercise activities such as jumping and bouldering. We also organise various events such as runs and seasonal activities such as our ski day and hiking tours.

This year, we want to go beyond Hard. That is why Bettina Bechter (who coordinates our running meetups) and I are planning for ALPLA colleagues globally to participate in the Wings for Life Run on 5 May for the first time.

 Why do you think it is important for ALPLAsport to have such an offering?

We all have a lot of stress in our day-to-day work, not to mention the demands of our private lives. Exercise is an important way to clear the mind. As a result, it contributes to general well-being, both physically and mentally. ALPLAsport plays an important role in achieving a good work–life balance. And of course there is also the social aspect – in a company as large as ALPLA, it is a great opportunity to get to know colleagues from other departments. 

What do you particularly like about working at ALPLA?

I love coming to the office here every day. I really enjoy being able to motivate someone to take part in our programme, especially when I see how much that colleague enjoys the training. Thanks to ALPLAsport, I come into contact with a lot of people and I get ideas all the time. I am open to this, because these types of discussions have, for example, resulted in us offering Zumba.

What advice would you give to new employees?

Physical and mental health is the most important foundation, so take care of yourselves and find enough balance in addition to enjoying your work! 

You are originally from Iceland, but you have been living here in Hard, Austria for over two years now. What are the biggest differences between Iceland and Austria?

My husband (editor’s note: former pro handballer and coach of ALPLA HC Hard) and I have lived in many different countries as well as in other parts of Austria. We have always liked it very much. The best is here in Vorarlberg, and it has become our favourite place to live. However, I think there are differences in mentality – in Iceland, we have a ‘Þetta reddast’, or ‘it’s going to work’, mentality, and there is less focus on potential problems. In Austria, people are much more sceptical and consider things more. I believe, however, that both are important. 

What do you like to do in your free time?

Of course, I do a lot of exercise and have been skiing a lot in recent months. My parents also left their mark on me, as they were always very active. 

My parents, who are both over 70, recently joined me in doing the half marathon of the three-country marathon. They are real role models for me. In addition, I support my children; my daughter is a very good singer and has participated in Voice of Germany with great success. All three of my children play handball and are highly motivated. This is why I spend a lot of time in the sports hall to support my family.’

What things are on your bucket list?

Ever since I moved to Vorarlberg, I have enjoyed skiing in winter. I now take every opportunity to ski after a long gap since I was a child. I have never tried tennis before and I have many friends and acquaintances who do play it, so I really want to learn it and see if I like it. I also want to continue travelling a lot and getting to know the world. 

If someone had to describe you in three words, which words would you choose?

Positive. Motivated. Chaotic – at least by Austrian standards (laughs).

And what three words describe ALPLA for you?

Sustainability. Vision. Employee-focused. 

Thank you for your time.


About Harpa Johannsdottir:

Learning and Development Coordinator, 37 years old, from Iceland


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