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A Fine Line Between Genius and Madness: A Day in the Life of an IT- System Administrator

A Fine Line Between Genius and Madness: A Day in the Life of an IT- System Administrator

Q: What do you get if you combine technical savvy with the patience of a saint and a willingness to help? A: The perfect system administrator. In other words, someone like Raffael Willems, Head of Internal IT at imc. Not that life in IT is always perfect...

You have to be slightly mad to want to do this job. Apparently, there’s quite a bit more to solving problems in internal IT than just saying “have you tried turning it off and back on again?”

 

Raffael Willems has been Head of Internal IT here at imc for about a year. In this interview, he tells us about his average working day, and why his job requires not just basic curiosity, but patience, good communication skills, and empathy as well.

Raffael Willems, imc

Raffael Willems

Job | Head of Internal IT

Working in | Saarbruecken, Germany

Worked at imc since | 2021

Super power | Patience & willingness to help

Favourite food | Pretty much everything - but good!

Job Slot office life, seperator

Hi Raffael, thanks for making time to talk to us! You’re the boss of internal IT here at imc. How would you explain to your three-year-old daughter what you do for a living?

Funnily enough, my daughter actually likes to “help” me with my work. When I’m working from home, she loves to type along with me on one of my numerous keyboards. She knows my job has something to do with computers and helping people. The way I explain it to her is that I’m in charge of everything that flashes, goes “beep”, causes trouble, and hinders people in their work.

So, your role as a system administrator is to ensure everyone at imc can do their work?

Pretty much. My job is to make sure everyone else is able to do their job. I’m the one people call when some technical problem or other is causing them grief.

What does that look like on a day-to-day basis? Do you just sit there, waiting for people to call with their problems?

No, no, of course not. While I’m having my first coffee of the morning, I read my emails and Teams messages, look at the ticket system, and check using our monitoring system whether everything’s ok, or whether there’s something needing attention urgently. Then I work through my to-do list for the day – which is not all short-term tasks, by the way.

 

I also have a lot of longer-term projects on the go that require a fair amount of planning. Planning is important because the kinds of changes I initiate affect everyone. If I mess something up, that could very well put 350 people out of action. That’s why good planning and communication with a range of departments are absolutely essential.

What do you like most about your job?

This may sound a little counter-intuitive, but what I like most of all is the creativity. As I said, my job is to try to find solutions that work for everyone, but I also have to make sure they comply with our stringent security and data protection policies. That can often be challenging to reconcile. But certain things, like hardware equipment and security updates, just have to be managed top-down to ensure they’re done properly.

 

I really enjoy working with other people, and the more different they are, the more exciting I find it. I mean, a call from a developer is a very different experience to a call from Marketing. Different people speak completely different languages – figuratively as well as literally. And then there are the many different nationalities and cultures here at imc. That’s quite a change from where I used to work, and I really enjoy it.

 

One thing I particularly appreciate about my work here is that my ideas always fall on fertile ground. There are no wrong answers, and new ideas get listened to and not dismissed out of hand. You can always bounce ideas around and try to come up with creative solutions that work for the greatest number of people.

What personal qualities do you need to be a IT-System Administrator?

Above all else, patience. As an IT- System Admin, you’re constantly dealing with people – communicating and explaining things and, every so often, smoothing ruffled feathers. You have to realize that most people, whatever the company, see IT projects and processes as a necessary evil. People just want things to work properly so they can get on with their job. And that’s totally legitimate, but technology is changing so rapidly that IT is constantly having to adapt.

 

Even so, you can’t just throw a new system at people and expect them to welcome it with open arms and work with it, no questions asked. You have to get the affected departments onboard early on, involve them, be patient, and understand what they need and how they work. Just because a system is a huge hit with Sales doesn’t mean it’s assured of rave reviews in Content, and vice versa.

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Hence, as well as patience and good communication skills, you also need empathy. I have to put myself in the other person’s shoes so that I can understand what the problem is and how I can support them. And if things do start getting heated, I need to get alongside those concerned and calm them down.

In day-to-day terms, that means you need to be able to read between the lines. If I can tell from the tone of the e-mail that the writer is extremely annoyed, then I can reach out directly and try to calm things down so that the situation doesn’t escalate. That requires experience and well-honed instincts.

 

Another key personal quality for being a sys admin is the ability to get to grips rapidly with new subject areas. Sometimes there are situations that require fast decisions, so you need to be able to compile and evaluate the relevant information very quickly. I may have no prior knowledge of the problem someone is writing to me about, but I still have to respond quickly with a valid answer. Hence you always need to be keen to learn new things, especially in IT, where rapid technological change is a given.

On a scale of one to ten, how well would you say your training prepared you for your current role?

I’d say seven. During my training as an IT System Electronics Engineer, I was fortunate to have a trainer who always believed in me. He would always say that in my chosen career I was walking a fine line between genius and madness. But he made sure to teach me the things that really matter – and not just the hard skills, but the soft skills as well.

Thanks to him, I developed a certain sense of ambition and learned to stick with things, to complete my tasks reliably and to not be afraid to step into conflict situations where necessary, but without losing my calm. So, a big shout out to Volker Laufer!

What attracted you to the profession of System Administrator. How did you get into it?

My father was a primary school teacher, and he got me interested in computers at a very young age. Back in the 1980s, he wrote his own learning software for Atari and Commodore. And for my mother, who was a self-employed music teacher, he wrote a sheet music learning program in Omicron Basic. Of course, I was always looking over my dad’s shoulder, and when I got my first Windows PC, I learned a lot just by experimenting and trying things out. So, when I got older, I naturally gravitated towards a career involving computers.

 

The fact that I am now working for an e-learning provider is a source of great pride for my parents, because in a sense I’ve brought the family full-circle. I feel the same way, which is why I’m able to identify very closely with imc’s values and products. It’s like I’m getting back to my roots.

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In what ways does imc differ from most of your previous employers?

Well, there’s the company’s size, of course, but mainly it’s the communication culture. Here, whenever I introduce something new, it takes two weeks tops for everyone to get on board with it, including everyone over in Australia. At my last employer, it would take an eternity, even though they don’t have any locations outside Germany. Here, people talk to each other, share ideas, and read the updates that I post in the blog.

 

But the biggest difference is the mindset. At imc, the attitude to change is more positive than negative. I never have to explain to anyone that IT changes and that they can’t keep doing things the same way they’ve been doing them for the last 15 years. Perhaps that’s due to the greater diversity here, and to the average employee age, which I think is about 38.

The people here also have a relaxed way of dealing with each other – there’s no stuffy business etiquette, just a willingness to help one another. And if you’re going through a tough time personally, that’s ok too. You can talk about it and get support.

Here’s a recent example that says a lot about our culture around mistakes and how we get along with one another. I was working on something that I failed to think through properly, and, as you’d expect, when the admin screws up, it affects the whole company. It wasn’t anything major, but it was still annoying. Pretty soon, one of my colleagues stormed into my office in a rage and had a complete meltdown over it. But that evening, we spoke about it again over a beer or two, and it was fine.

 

Mistakes happen, and people here accept that. Nobody holds that mistake against me, because they all know it wasn’t malicious and because I admitted it immediately and apologised. Plus, they know me as someone who does a good job and is always willing to help.

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You’ve been with us for almost exactly a year now. What’s your reflection on how things have gone?

It might only have been one year, but it feels like ten – and in a really good way! I feel like I’ve been here forever because I’ve already gotten to know so many people and worked on so many projects and systems – I guess what I’m saying is, I feel needed. There is still a lot to do, obviously, and the processes are not quite the way I would like them to be, but we’re getting there.

 

Here at imc, my work is valued, people take the time to thank me, and I feel there’s a very healthy culture around conflict and mistakes. Discussions here are based on reasoned arguments. Rather than rejecting new ideas as a matter of course, the people here embrace change and accept that change also means new technology. That’s because change isn’t just about how you work; it’s also about how your workplace is equipped and what the systems are behind it.

What would you like to change?

I think we could do more to raise imc’s profile as an employer. For example, when I first applied, I knew virtually nothing about the company. Having said that, I was really impressed with the overall application process.

I also really liked the Welcome Days organized by the HR department and the way I was onboarded and welcomed into the fold. I would like to see imc build on this positive applicant experience and inspire more people to join the company – and hence also join my team.

 

 

I’m sure we can manage that. Thank you for sharing these valuable insights. You clearly love your job. Long may that continue!

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IMC CAREER

Would you like to know more about imc as an employer? Then take a look at our career section, maybe there is a suitable position for you.

We are also always happy to receive unsolicited applications!

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Contact person

I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creating unique content and social media are my passion.

 

"One can not not communicate" - Paul Watzlawik.

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

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Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
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Diversity & Inclusion at imc

Diversity and Inclusion at imc: How We Are Continuing to Walk the Talk

From cultural diversity roundtable to tandem programme – Our summer highlights of 2022

Diversity and inclusion is now an integral part of our corporate culture here at imc. Our workdays are generally pretty busy, obviously, but we will always find the time to champion this important issue and generate awareness of our initiatives.

 

We: that’s the imc diversity team. Currently there are 22 of us. To ensure everyone can find what they are looking for, we have structured the diversity programme into three main elements: EmpowHER, a programme to connect and empower women at imc; the Cultural Diversity programme; and our most recent initiative, the Diversity of Interests programme.

 

To ensure that this diversity programme is genuinely accessible to all employees at all locations, we are planning to run most of the sessions and activities in hybrid or fully online form.

3 Pillars D&I Programme

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

EmpowerHER: Round two of the InspireHER tandem programme

Last year, the EmpowerHER team launched their passion project, the InspireHER tandem programme. It involved 20 imc women meeting in pairs over an eight-week period to share experiences, ideas and tips, and foster personal growth through mutual reflection and feedback.

 

The launch was a success, and InspireHER was held again this year, with 20 imc women pairing up for regular close dialogue and sharing. The matters discussed are confidential because the aim is to create a safe environment for open and frank exchange, whether on professional or personal topics.

imc Diversity and Inclusion Inspire HER Programme

InspireHER, the tandem programme for women at imc

“The closing session this year was a time of emotion for everyone, but also of laughter as many of us had humorous anecdotes to tell,” says imc communications manager Nadine Kreutz. “We all noticed that we had bonded with each other at a personal – as well as professional – level, and that’s what made these intimate and joyous moments possible.” Nadine and her tandem partner met up every Friday afternoon: “It was always such a wonderful way to end the working week, having a good laugh at ourselves and the things we discovered we had in common.”

How can we learn about and understand cultural diversity in our organisation?

This is the question our Cultural Diversity team asked themselves at the start of the year. A key focus of this year’s Cultural Diversity programme is on how we interact with each other in our day-to-day working lives. What keeps us from communicating with our colleagues from different cultural backgrounds in a natural and open-minded way? In the sessions and discussion groups on these topics, there’s one subject that came up again and again: stereotypes.

Diversity, cultural diversity

This prompted the Cultural Diversity team to look at ways of overcoming various stereotypes here at imc. For each of our company’s locations, they planned sessions dedicated specifically to cultural stereotypes. We still have one of these sessions to go before the end of October. It’s themed “Typically German”.

 

The Cultural Diversity programme kicked off in Australia with a session titled “Get to know more about ... Australia!” Samantha Mathews, business development manager at imc in Melbourne, led this session with warmth and disarming self-irony.

 

It pretty soon became clear that the Germans among us often find the laid-back Australian way of doing business rather off-putting. The fact that in Australia, meetings often start with informal chit-chat surprised the audience. "We consider it normal and even polite to ask people about weekend plans " Explains Samantha, "It's not uncommon for me to know what my clients do in their spare time, if they are married or if they have children."

Desk with family picture

This brought an ironic smile to the lips of most of the German colleagues present. After all, here in Germany, we generally start our meetings on time with the agenda and then get straight down to business. Or do we? We’ll have to wait until our session on Germany to see whether there’s any substance to this cultural stereotype.

Operation Christmas Child

This year’s programme featured the launch of our most recent diversity initiative. Called Diversity of Interests, its purpose is to celebrate the diverse qualities, knowledge, interests and talents of our people, focusing on personal interests outside of work, such as volunteer work, social engagement, club memberships and unusual hobbies.

 

For example, this year Julia Heib, internal Communications- und Event at imc, will be introducing imc to a project that has been dear to her heart for many years. “With ‘Operation Christmas Child’, everyone has the chance to give the gift of Christmas to a child in need,” Julia explains. “This appeal has been a part of my family’s Christmas tradition for years. I get my children involved, and we have a nice time together, packing the gift boxes. I’d like to introduce the appeal to the entire imc organisation and get lots of people involved. And our Diversity of Interests initiative is the perfect vehicle for just that.”

The aim of the initiative over the next few years is to provide a platform where our people can share what’s important to them personally and find collaborators, kindred spirits and supporters for projects that go beyond their day-to-day working life. The idea is that this initiative will give rise to further initiatives or talent pools which then feed into employees’ day-to-day work or specific imc projects. A win-win all round.

 

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CONTACT

Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
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The rise of Mr. Hilarious – From a small garage start-up to Managing Director at imc Austria

The rise of Mr. Hilarious – From a small garage start-up to Managing Director at imc

No. We’re not talking a Hollywood script for a new Vince Vaughn comedy. We’re telling the story of a Managing Director at imc. He reveals his most important task, and what work-life balance means to him today.

“Full of shenanigans” – that’s a beautiful phrase, right? It’s the first thing that came to mind when I first spoke to Oliver Nussbaum. It sums him up perfectly, as if the phrase was coined especially for him. You will soon understand why.

 

Olli is a Managing Director of imc Austria. In the late 1990s, he started an e-learning company – while dropping out of university and long before anyone had even heard of e-learning. When imc AG bought his company in 2008, he was kept on the payroll. In 2012, he became Managing Director of imc Austria, a role he now shares with his colleague Marc Müller.

 

In this interview, he shares how his understanding of work-life balance and career success has changed over the years, what he considers his most important task, and what really drives him up the wall.

Oliver Nussbaum, imc

Oliver Nussbaum

Job | Managing Director imc Austria

Working in | Graz, Austria

Worked at imc since | 2008

Super power | Enthusiasm

Favourite food | Piccata Milanese

Job Slot office life, seperator

Hello Olli! Thank you for taking the time. What exactly does Managing Director mean? Can you explain your role in one sentence?

One sentence? OK: I know a little bit of everything, but nothing in-depth.

Respect! That was short and sharp. Can you explain it a bit further?

My job is to ensure that things run smoothly. Essentially, it is my responsibility to create a working environment for our employees that provides them with everything they need while also making them satisfied and keen to come to work. I clear their path as much as possible and remove obstacles so they can focus on their actual job. People want jobs that meet these four criteria: a great work atmosphere, interesting tasks, flexible working hours and adequate remunerations.

 

In recent years, priorities have shifted, and money has become less important. Of course, pay has to be fair. Yet, few will stay in a job if it falls short on the other factors – if the work atmosphere is poor, the employer is inflexible, or tasks are repetitive and boring.

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Let’s talk flexibility. In 2022, imc introduced a flexible working time model under the motto: “100% flexible but not 100% remote.” How are you realising that in Austria?

Here in Austria, our team comprises 27 members. Most of us come to the office at least once or twice a week. We hold all our important team meetings on a Monday, and we all come in that day. The other four days are flexible. Some come in almost every day, others really only do on a Monday.

 

We were absolutely certain that we wanted to remain flexible after corona – especially when we saw that productivity shot up by almost 30% when we were forced to work from home! I keep a close eye on working hours to avoid overtime, and I strive to keep fluctuation close to zero. What you need to consider is that after 5, 10 or even 15 years with the company, the wealth of knowledge a team member accumulates is so profound that it becomes almost impossible to replace them.

This is why it is so important for me to create employee satisfaction, so that both our new and our long-time employees say: I love working here!

Sounds like a very relaxed approach. Many a traditionalist might even accuse you of not actually working.

Well, no. One glance at our output puts paid to that suggestion. Of course, I do place a lot of trust in my employees, and I put them first – as a person. However, I can only offer that flexibility if our corporate objectives are met. I expect absolute honesty, team spirit and a willingness to take responsibility. We are a team and think as a team. If one link in this chain becomes a burden on others, I will remove it sooner rather than later.

A person who compromises the collective effort, refuses to take responsibility for their work or offloads their tasks onto others will not have a future with us. I communicate this very clearly from day one to ensure everyone knows the script.

What exactly do you mean by honesty?

Honesty really is something I deeply care about. I am always totally honest to myself and others. The opinions I hold are not always that popular. Some will dislike that. However, I also don’t have an issue with others giving it to me straight. As a Managing Director, I need to be able to handle that. It is part of my job, and I would rather people let their frustration out on me than on my team. Our hierarchies are very flat. We don’t just preach an open-door policy because it’s cool. Everyone knows that they can come to me with any issue whatsoever. And they do.

 

To get back to your question: Honesty already starts during recruitment. I communicate our flat hierarchies very clearly from the outset. The last thing I would want is new team members getting the wrong idea about promotion opportunities and the like. Our structure naturally limits traditional progression through the ranks. Where we are not limited is in constantly offering new and exciting client projects and novel products like the imc Express authoring tool we developed in Austria.

 

Now, I also expect openness and honesty towards and from our clients, and I expect dealings to be on an equal footing. I cannot promise or sell anything our clients don’t need. It really is that simple.

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Let’s talk about you and your career. How did you train for this role? What was your career path?

After finishing high school, I went to university to study business management. But I successfully dropped out after a few years. Nonetheless, that time was very valuable to me. For instance, during my semester abroad in Colorado, USA, I studied computer design. This was in the mid-1990s. Back then, you could hardly even find a PC in Europe.

 

I learned a lot about graphic design and got into intermediate and small film production. That sparked the idea to create my own learning videos. Thus, I got together with my former partner to start an e-learning company. The thing is, in the German-speaking region, nobody really knew what e-learning was supposed to be, and nobody understood what we were trying to do.

That was a really exciting time. It was huge fun. We had a proper garage start-up. We hired a room right above the employee shop of a Siemens branch. So, you could walk into the building and buy a washing machine with your computer-based training.

 

As the company grew, I took on different responsibilities. I handled sales, for example. At some point, my studies got in the way, so I dropped them to give all my focus to the company. We grew to 25 employees across the DACH region, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, that is, before selling the company to imc in 2008. That was a massive change for me personally. All of a sudden, I went from being an entrepreneur to an employee. That said, I think more like an entrepreneur now than I ever did before!

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What characteristics do you think a Managing Director needs to bring to the table?

Above all, you need great social skills and empathy, and be a good judge of character. You also need to know what really matters. You cannot waste time with micromanagement. You need to delegate. A good Managing Director must be able to hire people who can do things better than them – without any hint of fear. I consider that a key competence.

 

On the other hand, you also need to have experience in the business and the environment. You also need to be open-minded, draw on a broad knowledgebase, and have at least some understanding of pretty much any issue – enough to enable you to judge how important or urgent these issues are, and how your market and your customers think.

 

In a nutshell, there are three things I consider crucial: First of all, social skills. That includes the ability to hire the right people. Secondly, a healthy approach to delegation. Thirdly, keeping an eye on the big picture without losing focus.

How would you define professional success?

My definition has changed many times over the years. During different stages of my life, professional success meant something different to me. In the beginning, I always wanted more: more customers, more revenue, more employees. I wanted to see the company take the big stage. The sale to imc seemed like a perfect fit for that ambition.

 

Today, I primarily define success by how satisfied my employees and how happy my customers are. I no longer need to be the centre of attention. I’m happy for others to take the credit. For me personally, status symbols and other financial aspects are now taking a backseat. Work-life balance has become a bit of a buzzword, but the “life” part is very important to me. In the past, I lived to work. I have become a lot more relaxed. It has been a few years since I put in a Christmas shift.

 

I also think that success means not taking things personally and developing a certain detachment while preserving your capacity for an emotional response. Taking breaks, trying to see the positives in anything, being able to laugh at things. The Dalai Lama said something along the lines of: “I love it when people laugh, because that is when they have new ideas.” My goal is to spend the rest of my working life in a way that allows me to retire but makes me want to come to work, simply because I enjoy it.

Let’s also talk about negatives. What really gets your hackles up?

I cannot stand deliberate incompetence. We briefly touched on taking responsibility earlier. What really drives me up the wall and – to me – is very much a sign of incompetence is when people deliberately approach something with tunnel vision.

When they refuse to look to the left or right and claim “I wasn’t told to do that” or “It never said that in the requirements specs.” It’s not a healthy mindset. If you are responsible for a project, you really have to take responsibility. You have to make sure that it works. Of course, you can and should consult specialists – but ultimately, you are responsible. Responsibility is not something you can dump on someone else.

 

Another thing I take great issue with is unfounded accusations. I think I made it very clear that anyone can come and tell me what they think. I don’t want them to mince their words, but I do expect these opinions to be plausible and have a basis.

To be quite honest, I also drive people around me nuts. I come late to meeting, I talk too much, I’m not perfect. But let’s carry on.

To round things off – Tell us about a funny experience you had at imc.

There’s been more than a few! This client contacted us with an issue, and we were struggling to really grasp what was going on. So, we asked her to send us a screenshot of the error message. Now, she took a slightly complicated approach: She opened a screenshot image in the editor, took a photograph of that and send us that photo. It showed the wall behind the computer, adorned with an image of a naked man. Of course, we all had a good laugh about that.

Some of the other stories I’d rather tell over a beer and off the record...

 

 

That might be the right thing to do. Thank you very much for this interesting and very entertaining interview, Olli!

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Teamwork makes the dream work

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IMC CAREER

Would you like to know more about imc as an employer? Then take a look at our career section, maybe there is a suitable position for you.

We are also always happy to receive unsolicited applications!

imc Job Slot: Unique people. Random questions.

Random questions, regularly new faces and jobs – that's the job slot of imc.

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Contact person

I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creating unique content and social media are my passion.

 

"One can not not communicate" - Paul Watzlawik.

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

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Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
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A Technical Consultant debunks the myth of the Hermit Techi

Teamwork makes the dream work!

A Technical Consultant debunks the myth of the Hermit Techi

In every company, there are people everyone knows. You always see them around, but cannot help asking: “What exactly do they do?” Of course, the opposite is true of certain other individuals. People who prefer to stay in the background, who are busy backstage – yet everyone knows who they are and just how important they are to keeping things running.

 

That is the sort of person Gajarajan Shanmugalingam aka Gajan is. Gajan has been with imc for eleven years. He is one of the lynchpins in learning management system (LMS) integration. In this interview, he shares what exactly his role as Head of Technical Consulting entails, what skills a technical consultant needs to bring to the table, and why he took his office on the road.

Gajarajan Shanmugalingam

Gajarajan Shanmugalingam

Job | Head of Technical Consulting

Working in | Saarbruecken, Germany

Worked at imc since | 2011

Super power | Analytical thinking

Favourite food | Spaghetti with hot pepper sauce

Job Slot office life, seperator

Hello Gajan! Thank you for taking the time. How would you describe your job as a Technical Consultant to a child?

Hi Nadine, the pleasure’s all mine. Imagine you visit a toy store. The sheer number of choices can be truly overwhelming for a child, or even an adult. My job would be to figure out what you want and what would suit you. I need to understand your requirements and recommend a toy that meets them.

It’s exactly the same with our software. The customer has certain requirements or wants to solve a specific issue. Together with my team, it is my responsibility to determine how we can help them.

That makes sense. But I associate the word consultant with Business Consultancy. How is your role as a Technical Consultant different? Does this involve lots of close collaboration?

At least at imc, Technical Consultants and Business Consultants work together very closely. However, us Technical Consultants tend to join the projects a bit later. The Business Consultants advise our customers on how the imc Learning Suite – our learning management system (LMS) – works, and how they can leverage that. They explain how different processes are mapped, what can be configured and such.

 

We take care of the more profound technical details. We discuss, install and support aspects like database servers, operating systems or single sign-on. We also help to ensure that the LMS rollout runs smoothly for the customer and handle customised adjustments – both in the project phase and during operation. Sometimes, we are roped in at an earlier stage to assist with steps like feasibility studies.

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So, you are always in contact with the customer?

That’s correct. Sometimes even before the actual project kicks off, but definitely throughout the installation phase, and we continue to support them after the system goes live. We either communicate with the customer’s IT team, or directly with the project owner. And internally, we always stay in touch with the Business Consultants, as well as Support, Hosting and even Sales to answer queries related to the offer.

How big is your team? Where are you all based?

In total, 16 people work in Technical Services, split across two teams. I lead one of these teams, and my colleague Patrick Penkala the other one. As Director Technical Services, Andreas Schweitzer supports our Australian and UK colleagues. Rather than all of us being based in Saarbrücken, some of us permanently work from home in various parts of Germany. We are also currently hiring both at our locations and for home office work.

You’re saying it’s OK to work from home?

Absolutely. At imc, we are extremely flexible in general. Nearly all departments allow for a large part of the work being done from home, while keeping the office available. However, we have no desire to completely switch to remote work. Our full team regularly meets in the office, and on those occasions, we also go out for meals together, hold workshops and have longer meetings. Personally, I come in at least once a week. That helps me maintain a personal connection to my team and other colleagues.

 

To be quite honest, I think corona was actually good for our company. I doubt this shift in mindset towards greater flexibility would have been realised this quickly otherwise. It has now become apparent that productivity is not compromised when people work from their home office.

In fact, they even tend to get more work done. That removes any real need to force everyone back into the office or establish fixed office days. Each team can decide for themselves what works best for them.

imc Job Slot seperator job and career

What skills, qualifications and training do you need to become a Technical Consultant?

Most of us have a traditional IT degree. But that’s not really a prerequisite. While we do look for appropriate technical understanding, we equally welcome applicants who gained this through an IT-related traineeship or other professional experiences.

The ability to think holistically and analytically is far more important than qualifications: To see the big picture and be creative in finding solutions for the issues at hand. Java is our core programming language. We also use JS frameworks for the frontend and employ various relational databases.

What other skills are important?

Above all, customer centricity. The ability to put yourself into the customer’s shoes, to understand their problems and find solutions. I consider it crucial to be willing to learn, to try and test things, to always seek new understanding, to remain curious.

Now, you are never just left to your own devices – We really are and work as a team. We also made a point of looking out for each other throughout the lockdowns. We are not beyond telling a team member off for working late into the night. We consider ourselves a unit and take responsibility for one another. We can only achieve the best results for our customers if we work as one. And ultimately, that is our goal.

 

To come back to your question: Communication skills are hugely important and must not be underestimated. This might not be as much of an expectation for us techs, but we do work closely with various stakeholders, both internally and externally. If clear communication is lacking, things go wrong.

 

Personally, I really enjoy the fact that there are many sides to this role. If you are motivated and this prospect excites you, you should think about joining our team! We will welcome you with open arms.

imc, teamwork

What does your typical day at work look like?

First of all, I check my emails, sort tickets, and look at the calendar to see which customer enquiries need to be dealt with and what meetings are scheduled. I also look after my team and ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

During corona, I learned that I need to keep work and my private life somewhat separate. So, when I finish work, I actually switch the laptop off, and go for a walk or meet up with friends. I do need to draw a line.

What do you like best about your job? What are you looking forward to each day?

Most of all, I look forward to my team. As I said earlier, we really do have a great relationship. There is no competition, and nobody tries to pass thankless tasks on to other.

I also very much appreciate the opportunity to learn something new every day. It never gets boring, as every customer is different. We usually receive direct feedback from our customers, and knowing they are happy with your work is a great feeling.

breaker job slot about me

You’ve been working at imc for a while now. Can you recall a particularly funny or odd situation?

As soon as you said that I had to think of my early days with imc. Back then, Andreas Pohl – who is now Director Research and Development – and I visited a major customer. We were meant to do a system migration over the weekend to avoid any disruption to their operations. So far, so good. Everything went smooth and the system go-live was planned for Monday morning.

 

Sunday night, we were already heading back home when the customer ran a final test and a problem occurred that we had not encountered before. I think it was some display that failed to work properly. We had to make a decision.

Where do we go from here? Postpone the go-live? Press ahead with it regardless? As Andreas was driving, I got to work. He told me a few things, and I resolved the software issue while on the road. It worked. The go-live went according to plan and the customer was happy. I will never forget my “very mobile” office, and still have to laugh thinking back on it.

job slot car office

What did you want to be as a kid?

I never had a specific dream job, but I always knew I wanted to do something with technology. I started programming at a very young age and basically turned my hobby into a career.

You are originally from Sri Lanka. When did you move to Germany?

My family came over when I was twelve and my dad found a job here. It was very tough in the beginning, as I didn’t speak a single word of German and nobody spoke Tamil, my mother tongue. But I learned German pretty quickly, and my parents were very proud when I started my university studies.

Final question: Which imc office are you longing to visit?

Melbourne, of course!

 

 

Of course. Thank you for your time, Gajan, and all the best going forward!

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What connects Software Architecture and Connect Four? In the latest Job Slot a Software Architect answer these and other questions.

IMC CAREER

Would you like to know more about imc as an employer? Then take a look at our career section, maybe there is a suitable position for you.

We are also always happy to receive unsolicited applications!

imc Job Slot: Unique people. Random questions.

Random questions, regularly new faces and jobs – that's the job slot of imc.

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Contact person

I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creating unique content and social media are my passion.

 

"One can not not communicate" - Paul Watzlawik.

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

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Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
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Job Slot
Interview with a Software Architect

What Connect Four and Software Architecture Have in Common

I’ve interviewed quite a number of imc colleagues about what exactly their job involves. I’ve put myself in the shoes of software developers, taken a peek behind the scenes in product management, and quizzed colleagues from marketing.

 

But I’ve never encountered anything as complex as what my colleague Eric Andre does for a living. Eric is a software architect, responsible for the imc Learning Management System (LMS). In our interview, he told me what Connect Four and his job have in common, how he trained as a software architect, and what the distinction between happiness and joy has to do with his work.

Eric Andre, Software Architect at imc Learning

Eric Andre

Job | Software Architect

Working in | Saarbruecken, Germany

Worked at imc since | 2021

Super power | Transfering knowledge to new situations

Favourite food | Pizza 

Job Slot office life, seperator

Hi Eric, thanks for making time for us today! I suspect your job description will be pretty meaningless to most laypeople. How would you describe your job to your grandparents?

Hi Nadine, the pleasure’s all mine. I would describe my job to my grandparents simply by saying that my boss gives me a whole lot of brightly coloured Lego bricks which I then put together to make something resembling a house.

Well, that actually sounds pretty simple. Can you explain it a bit further?

To understand what a software architect does, you first need to understand the function of architecture in software. Architecture refers to the fundamental way in which an entire system is organized – the basic framework. It specifies both the individual components that make up the system and the relationships, or dependencies, that exist between them.

 

Hence building a house is an apt metaphor. When you’re planning a house, there are certain things you must specify clearly at the outset. You can leave room for future additions, obviously, but if, for example, you want to be able to add another level at some point, you’ll need to allow for that when planning the foundations.

 

Software is similar in that sense. On the one hand, it must be flexible and open to change rather than static and ossified. But on the other, certain limits and properties must be maintained in the system at all times.

Connect Four is also a good metaphor. Here, architecture is like the blue grid of the game: it provides a structure within which the individual tokens are flexibly arranged and re-arranged. But it only works if the grid is designed to support this.

Job Slot, Connect Four

So, in other words, you have to plan something that doesn’t even exist yet?

Yes, that’s part of it. But I also have to make decisions very early on as to what might be important later on. That’s always a bit like gazing into a crystal ball. But with software architecture, it’s also like a house: if everything is working properly, you don’t give it a second thought. If it’s well planned, there won’t be any problems up front.

 

But planning doesn’t end with the initial build. It’s an ongoing process. It costs time and money, with no immediately obvious benefits. But if you don’t plan, and you just keep on building, then sooner or later things can get really expensive. There’s a great quote from Brian Foote that sums it up beautifully: “If you think good architecture is expensive, try bad architecture!”

Sounds like rather a lot of brainwork. What does your average working day look like?

I usually get up fairly early, sometime between six and seven, and go running for an hour. Then I have a coffee, preferably outside in the garden. That’s when I start thinking about my day. I have a not to-do list, and every day I jot down what I want to achieve and how I intend to go about it. In doing so, I always have our roadmap in the back of my mind.

 

Most mornings, work starts with our team meeting, with me generally pacing back and forth. I prefer to work standing up anyway, and I’m always moving around because I always have a lot to think through, and movement helps me order my thoughts.

 

In the late afternoon, I often go for an hour’s walk or do some gardening, after which I go back to my (standing) desk. My working day ends once I’ve done everything I set out to do that day. This flexibility and the freedom to switch between periods of high intensity and relaxation is very important to me.

So a large part of your work consists of planning. How do you know when a plan is finished and the architecture is ready for implementation? And what happens next?

Good software architecture demands an incredible amount of time and effort. And even then, sometimes you just have to accept that what you’ve come up with won’t work, and that you have to tear it up and start again. Only when I’ve thought everything through in the minutest detail and looked at it again and again from every angle do I know that I have given it enough thought.

 

That’s when the real work begins and I start defining processes and process flows, document requirements, and talk to my team, the developers and other teams. That might sound simple, but believe me, there are a lot of people and departments involved. The Executive Board, too, needs to sign off because the architecture affects the entire system.

imc Job Slot seperator job and career

How does one actually become a software architect?

Not through any classic apprenticeship or any one course of study. There are usually various certificates and modules involved. In most cases, including mine, you end up in this role at some point after starting out in software development. Software developers progress through various stages from junior to senior, at which point career paths branch off in various directions and you’re referred to as an individual contributor.

 

If you want to continue along the hands-on technical career path, you can work your way up to fellow engineer. Alternatively, if you prefer a management role, your career and further development options range from engineering manager all the way up to CTO. Or you can go into software architecture. The journey probably varies from company to company and industry to industry. But ultimately you progress from being a software developer to being an architect who must learn to delegate some of their previous responsibilities as a developer.

These days, there are various kinds of software architect, and each has a different focus. For example, there are enterprise architects, who are responsible for verifying that the organisation’s IT strategy is aligned with its mission. It’s their job to analyse both business properties and the external environment and to define all business needs.

 

Then there are solution architects, whose task is to evaluate all business needs and develop solutions in the form of products or services. They are the interface between business analysts and IT experts.

 

And finally, there are domain – or technical – architects, who mostly work as part of a team and tend to specialize in one particular technology. They can also work as technical project managers. These software architects work collaboratively to ensure the overall system has the flexibility, scalability and security required in order to meet business needs.

Job Slot, directions

And what is your specialism?

I tend to see myself as a solution architect who doubles as a domain architect from time to time. The distinction is somewhat fluid, which is due to our organisational structure. My specialism is in platform architecture. I distribute systems and ensure their interoperability, and I’m passionate about service orchestration and choreography within distributed and reactive service-oriented architectures.

What key skills does your job require?

Adaptability, the ability to transfer and apply knowledge to new areas, and analytical skills. I need to be able to familiarise myself with new subject areas and problems very quickly and transfer my existing knowledge to new situations.

 

For instance, I’m not the best developer by any stretch of the imagination, but I know enough to be able to understand problems and quickly get a handle on the issues involved. Good communication skills are also very important, as I deal with a wide range of stakeholders.

In what respects does imc differ from other employers?

I used to work at a large US corporation, and things were done very differently there in several respects. For example, decision-making processes are much shorter there, and people are more inclined just to give something a try. Here in Germany, there’s generally a lot more discussion and planning before something gets implemented.

 

I’m very happy with the overall situation here at imc. The people here are very open and honest. That came across right from the outset, during my job interview and the onboarding process. But I also like the way people deal with one another. And then there are all those in-house events and knowledge-transfer opportunities.

 

I also really like our approach to design here – it’s all so cohesive. Plus, I like the painstaking attention to detail here, and the fact that people notice when you go the extra mile. It’s not all strait-laced and serious either – people know how to have a bit of a laugh without being puerile. I suppose it’s a little like working for a start-up, albeit one with more structure.

 

Also, in my role, I’m able to work with a very wide range of information and levers, and imc always gives me really good support in that regard.

breaker job slot about me

Now let's go on with some random, personal questions. If you could have your time again, would you still choose to work as a software architect?

Yes, in a heartbeat. I love the challenge – it gives me great joy. And I believe that if you do something that gives you joy, then that’s the key to happiness. If something fills you with joy, you cannot help but be happy.

Please complete the following phrase: For me, digitalisation means...

...that you can’t make a bad analogue process better simply by digitalising it.

What do your colleagues value most about you?

They value my willingness to help and my openness, and also my direct manner. At least, I hope they do!

Do you have any role models, professionally or personally?

Professionally, several. At a personal, human level, the actor Keanu Reeves springs to mind. Despite his immense success, he remains grounded, uses public transport and stands up for others. I find that truly remarkable. Amid all the rapid changes of our modern world, it shows that there are still immutable principles and values that we all share, or at least should share.

 

 

Indeed! And that wraps things up nicely. Thank you for your time, Eric. Here’s wishing you continued joy in your work!

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IMC CAREER

Would you like to know more about imc as an employer? Then take a look at our career section, maybe there is a suitable position for you.

We are also always happy to receive unsolicited applications!

imc Job Slot: Unique people. Random questions.

Random questions, regularly new faces and jobs – that's the job slot of imc.

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Contact person

I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creating unique content and social media are my passion.

 

"One can not not communicate" - Paul Watzlawik.

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

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Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
Diversity and Inclusion Header
Diversity & Inclusion at imc

Diversity & Inclusion Isn’t Just for Diversity Week and Pride Month

Diversity is here to stay: imc expands its D&I programme

This year, International Diversity and Inclusion Day fell on Saturday, 21 May. Aware that it would be difficult to reach out to our team on a Saturday, we simply declared the entire week leading up to that date Diversity Week.

 

Our Diversity crew organised a wealth of engaging sessions and initiatives to make our D&I programme accessible to all employees at all our sites and generally raise awareness of this important issue.

 

To make sure there is something for everyone, the programme is divided into three key elements: EmpowHER, a programme to connect and empower women at imc; the Cultural Diversity programme; and our latest initiative, Diversity of Interests.

3 Pillars D&I Programme

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

„Be better, do better and live better together”

To get imc Diversity Week off to a strong start, the D&I team brought in a high-profile external speaker: Stephen Dorsey. Stephen Dorsey is an author who recently published a book titled Black & White: An Intimate Multicultural Perspective on White Advantage and the Paths to Change. During the week’s opening session, he provided a thought-provoking perspective on racism and prejudice.

 

Stephen joined our global video meeting at 2:30 a.m. (Canadian time) and, wide awake and none the worse for the early hour, gave a deeply moving personal account of his childhood and upbringing in Canada. Warm, open, and engaging, he provided food for so much more than just thought, his words striking a chord with many of our employees and setting up our Diversity Week perfectly.

Diversity Week 2022

Kenneth Littlepage and Julia Heib hosting the session

Show us what you love

Diversity Week also featured our most recent diversity initiative. Called Diversity of Interests, its purpose is to celebrate the diverse qualities, knowledge, interests and talents of our people, focusing on personal interests outside of work, such as volunteer work, social engagement, club memberships and unusual hobbies.

 

For this part of the programme, we invited six people from our own workforce to present short, five-minute nuggets on the things they love. Kenneth Littlepage, one of our project managers, got the ball rolling with an account of his other life as a livestream football commentator for the Saarland Hurricanes. Our colleague Selasie Smith, a business consultant, spoke about her experiences of volunteering in the UK and about her own project, The Gentlemen’s Network. Nicolae Purcar, Director of imc in Romania, shared his passion for trail running, and Elke Zastrau, Head of HR at imc, talked about her membership of International Inner Wheel. Tyson Priddle, Director Digital Learning, Australia, spoke about his hockey club, Altona HC, and Oksana Buhay, one of our business consultants and a native Ukrainian, outlined her contribution to a Ukraine humanitarian aid programme in Stuttgart.

 

The aim of the initiative is to create a platform where people can share ideas and even find collaborators, kindred spirits and supporters for projects that go beyond their day-to-day working life. The idea is that the initiative will give rise to further initiatives or talent pools which then feed into employees’ day-to-day work or specific imc projects – a win-win all round.

diversity, kids playing hockey

imc around the world: People who eat together stay together

Yay! We can finally meet up in person again! That’s certainly what our organisers were thinking when they initiated after-work potluck dinners at virtually all imc locations worldwide to round off Diversity Week. Everyone was invited to bring a dish inspired by their national cuisine or most recent trip abroad. It had to be something that had a story attached or some special emotional significance. The idea was very well supported. See for yourself:

But wait, there’s more!

This year will also see the return of a project dear to the heart of our EmpowerHER team: the InspireHER tandem programme. InspireHER is where 20 imc women meet in pairs over an eight-week period to share experiences, ideas and tips, and foster personal growth through mutual reflection and feedback. This year, the emphasis will again be on personal growth and networking, with each pair free to focus on topics of their own choosing. The programme of events will close in July with the emotional feedback session.

imc Diversity and Inclusion Inspire HER Programme

InspireHER, the tandem programme for women at imc

The imc Diversity & Inclusion crew has every reason to be pleased with this year’s programme. The Executive Board’s Sven R. Becker is also very pleased:

“Once again, the feedback from the imc family on our Diversity & Inclusion programme has been very positive. It’s a wonderful testament to what a grassroots movement can lead to. This is a bottom-up initiative, something our staff created entirely on their own, so I have absolutely no doubt they will achieve their goal of making diversity and inclusion part of our company’s DNA and integrating it into our corporate culture.”

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CONTACT

Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
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Job Slot
Interview with an International HR Manager who moved to Germany

From London to Saarbrücken or: How Bridget Jones met James Bond

An International HR Manager who moved from London to Germany shares some insights

Many people living in smaller cities dream of living in metropolitans like London and move there. Claire Raistrick did it the other way around: She grew up near London and worked there as a Human Resources (HR) Manager. But six years ago, she met her personal German “James Bond” and decided on moving to a tiny town in Germany. And as luck would have it, the very same time imc searched for a native English speaker for the international HR Business in Saarbrucken. Another match!

 

In the Job Slot interview Claire reveals more about her career path, why she was shocked in a German supermarket and clears up some prejudices about HR.

Claire Raistrick

Claire Raistrick

Job | International HR Manager

Working in | Saarbruecken, Germany

Worked at imc since | 2020

Super power | Ability to Listen

Favourite food | Typical British Sunday Roast Beef, Yorkshire Puddings and Roast Potatoes 

imc Job Slot seperator job and career

Hi Claire, thanks for joining! First tell us, what exactly do you do in the Human Resources Department?

HR is wide ranging, and no two days are ever the same. It’s not only about hiring and firing or talking to people all day, but HR is also strategic, and there is more to this job than many people realise. I would say you can split HR into the following areas: recruitment and selection (or talent acquisition to give it is new name), performance management, learning and development, pay and reward, human resources information systems, and employment law.

 

Strengthening the employer-employee relationship is a large part of my role. My job requires expertise as a HR generalist, which means I must be familiar with every human resource discipline to some level, whilst always focus on imc’s strategic goals. I get involved in great projects such as our Diversity and Inclusion, Onboarding and there is so much more I would love to. We have some fabulous people at imc, and part of my role is working with management to create an environment where people never want to leave.

What professional background or education do you have?

I started off as Secretary in the Head Office of a Private Bank in London which customers had to have a large amount of money to invest. We had customers from Saudi, Lottery Winners actors for example visit our plush offices in Mayfair which was a great experience. After a few years, I was fed up with commuting on the train and tube every day, so I manged to secure a job working closer to home, again staying in financial services.

 

The HR Manager happened to say to me at the photocopier that she had a vacancy for a HR Assistant, and I said: “Here I am!”. Then she said, ok you can start next week. A few months in, she asked me if I would like to go to University, and I did not need to be asked twice. So, I started studying Human Resources Management besides working, as a HR Assistant and have been working in HR ever since. That was a very fortunate situation and one that shaped my career in HR.

In which areas did you work before joining imc?

Other than working as Secretary for a few years, I have always worked in HR. Prior to joining imc I had never worked in the IT industry. That’s a little shift for me, because in financial services you have very detailed and strict processes to follow, especially around compliance and risk. Although we have strict compliance regulations etc at imc as well, there is no comparison to financial services. In general, its more laid back and flexible here.

Woman with red blazer

Which skills are important for your job?

Confidentially is key, a great communicator, objective, impartial, well-organised and a good listener… We have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

What do you like about your job most?

I really enjoy interviewing people. As I work in International, I have the luxury of speaking with people from across the globe which is so interesting. It is super important to make people feel relaxed in an interview so you can get the best out of them. I love to coach people also. However, that’s not all you need and do in HR and in my case it’s only a small part of what I do.

 

I also like the strategic part very much, like putting frameworks in place and focussing on the company’s employee agenda. More than anything I LOVE my team! I feel privileged to work with such intelligent kind individuals.

Jobslot

Ok, now let’s come to some more personal questions. You moved from London to a tiny city in Germany called Kollerbach, how come?

The oldest story of the world: I was on holiday in Austria skiing and met a German guy. It would be nice to tell you that our eyes locked across the piste, and I fell into his arms, but of course it was nothing like that and we met in a bar during Après Ski. He did not speak much English and I spoke no German at all. And I skied like Bridget Jones, and he was like James Bond… But somehow a fit.

Apres Ski

Did you experience big cultural differences or clashes between England and Germany?

The most stressful experience I had when I came to Germany (apart from driving on the other side of the road in an English car) was a visit in the German supermarket. I had no idea that in Germany it’s super important that you are very fast at the checkout. You must grab all your stuff as quickly as possible, pay and nearly run!

When I first went to a supermarket, I didn’t know that, and I thought the checkout assistance was so rude and I felt under such pressure. But like anything, once you know the rules you can play the game.

 

I find Germany very clean and feel very safe here. The German’s are fabulous. The lifestyle in Germany is much more outside that in the UK and now I have an E- Bike, courtesy of the imc scheme, there is no stopping me!

 

When it comes to a business context, I found it quite unbelievable that Germans address certain people by their surname because I haven’t called somebody Mr or Mrs since I was at school so that is very different. However, in general, the differences are less than you might think.

 

On the other hand, some clichés I heard I cannot confirm at all. I have heard is said that Germans write very blunt emails, or don’t do “small talk” which is untrue. It’s right that people are a little more direct, or as I like to say “logical! and get to the point quicker, but I like that. I feel very comfortable here and cannot wait to experience my first Christmas Party in Saarbrücken.

You have already worked for a couple of companies, what do you find special or different at imc?

For me it’s the people that make it. At imc it’s really hard work but fun and I genuinely think people care. People work hard but still the atmosphere is relaxed and everyone is friendly. In banks people tend to be sort of stuffy, suited and booted, at least when I worked there.

I love to come to work in my jeans for example. I do not have one black suit in my wardrobe anymore (just red jackets) and it is quite liberating. I really appreciate the flexibility at imc and the hybrid working model we have. Oh, and I love the fact that you can always find champagne in the fridge, although I’m never sure who brought it… Or even if I can drink it!

Breaker Job Slot Random Questions

Great, now let’s come to some random questions. Do you remember a very curious or funny situation you experienced in your job?

I could probably write a book about the things I experienced in the last 20 years, people would not believe what goes on in banks (and probably everywhere). I used to dread the Christmas parties as I could guarantee there would be a complaint following it, on my desk within a few days. I can’t think of one specific situation, well not that I could share anyway.

 

An amusing situation at imc happened at Christmas. Desi my colleague and I were in the office on 23rd December, and we were just finishing up when three “wise” men appeared at the office door and started to sing to us in their dulcet tones “We wish you a Merry Christmas”. I knew Raffael and Roman but when they left, I said to Desi: “Who was the guy in the green jacket on the end?” She was so shocked and said “Claire, you don’t know who Andreas Pohl is?”

You have to know that Andreas is one of the key people at imc and has worked here for years. Needless to say, I do now! (Sorry Andreas if you happen to read this… But you were wearing a mask).

What did you want to become as a child?

I wanted to become a vet. But I learned in a very young age that I was very squeamish, so that career was out of the window.

Do you also use e-learning privately?

Yes, I use Duolingo to learn German and get daily reminders to make my course!

What was the last book you read?

“Behind closed doors” which I call “beach books”. I read a lot of different types of genres, I am really interested in psychology books, and am a huge fan of Carl Jung.

Would you choose your profession again today?

Yes 100 %.

 

 

Great, thank you Claire for this lovely and funny interview and all the best for your private and professional life! 

RELATED CONENT
job slot: instructional designer

Career hoppers welcome

Conceptual or instructional designer, editor for digital learning: there are many names for his job.

In this interview Philipp tells us what he really does and why he needs a lot of tact and diplomacy for some clients.

Work or study?

How to become a Media Designer – with an  Apprenticeship or degree? Vanessa Pesch also faced these question after having finished school.

In the job slot she tells, why she decided for an apprenticeship in imc's content team.

IMC CAREER

Would you like to know more about imc as an employer? Then take a look at our career section, maybe there is a suitable position for you.

We are also always happy to receive unsolicited applications!

imc Job Slot: Unique people. Random questions.

Random questions, regularly new faces and jobs – that's the job slot of imc.

Jobslot Logo

Contact person

I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creating unique content and social media are my passion.

 

"One can not not communicate" - Paul Watzlawik.

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

Photo of Nadine Kreutz
Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
Diversity & Inclusion at imc
2022 another celebration of diversity in all its wonder, colour and vibrancy

This year, the imc Diversity & Inclusion programme has even more to offer

imc kicks off 2022 Diversity & Inclusion programme with a celebration of International Women’s Day

“We’ll know that we truly understand diversity when we no longer need to talk about it. Diversity and inclusion must become part of our DNA. It must become just as routine as small talk at the coffee machine. And I think we’ve come a step closer to achieving that goal,” says imc Executive Board member Sven R. Becker.

 

To make sure it achieves this goal in the next three to four years, imc has a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) crew whose job it is to put together an annual D&I programme for all employees across all company locations. To ensure there’s something for everyone, the programme is divided into three parts: EmpowHER, a women in leadership programme, Cultural Diversity, and the latest initiative, Diversity of Interests.

3 Pillars D&I Programme

The three pillars of the D&I movement at imc

International Women’s Day 2022

The EmpowHER team managed to secure a high-power external speaker for this year’s International Women’s Day. It was none other than Ilse Henne, a member of the Management Board and Chief Transformation Officer at thyssenkrupp Materials Services. Henne’s keynote session on “Equality today, for a sustainable tomorrow” was a huge inspiration to its 120 participants.

If we feel seen, supported, connected and feel proud of other women in our community, then we can be happier and being happier is the best way starting to learn and develop yourself!
Ilse Henne
CTO
thyssenkrupp Materials Services

The day ended on a high note with the IWD Movie Night Party. For this, the team hired out an entire movie theatre in imc’s home city of Saarbrücken, where it screened “Hidden Figures.” The movie tells the story of three female African-American mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who played a pivotal role in NASA’s Mercury and Apollo programmes. Complete with popcorn and nachos, the movie night was a fitting end to International Women’s Day at imc.

imc Diversity and Inlcusion Book Club

Shared cinema experience at Bookclub+

But wait, there’s more!

InspireHER tandem programme

The day’s celebrations also marked the start of this year’s InspireHER tandem programme, an initiative particularly dear to the EmpowHER team’s heart. InspireHER is a programme in which 20 women from imc meet in pairs over an eight-week period to share experiences, ideas and tips, and foster personal growth through mutual reflection and feedback. Launched last year, it was such a success, and received such positive feedback from its participants, that it is being held again this year. “The thing we really liked about the tandem programme is that it created a really strong connection among the participants,” explains Eva Lettenbauer, a member of the programme’s organising team. This year, the emphasis will again be on personal growth and networking, with each pair free to focus on topics of their own choosing.

 

imc Diversity and Inclusion Inspire HER Programme

InspireHER, the tandem programme for women at imc

Cultural Diversity

Our offices are spread across the world – across 12 international locations, to be precise – and are home to more than 350 people from over 50 nations. That kind of diversity creates challenges from time to time, but it’s a great opportunity to get to know other cultures and points of view. “I’m really looking forward to the programme we’ve got lined up for the Cultural Diversity group this year,” says Nadine Kreutz, a member of imc’s Diversity crew. “We want to give people at our various company locations the opportunity to learn more about the history and culture of their country, including the work culture. The event dates are based on the national holidays of the countries selected, and the presentations will be given by colleagues from those countries.”

 

Diversity of Interests

The latest initiative in our D&I programme kicks off in May during Diversity Week. It’s called Diversity of Interests, and its purpose is to celebrate the diverse qualities, knowledge, interests and talents of our people. The focus also includes personal interests outside of work, such as volunteer work, social engagement, club memberships and unusual hobbies.

diversity of interest

Diversity of interests also includes social commitment

The aim of the initiative is to create a platform where people can share ideas and even find collaborators, kindred spirits and supporters for projects that go beyond their day-to-day working life. The idea is that the initiative will give rise to further initiatives or talent pools which then feed into employees’ day-to-day work or specific imc projects – a win-win all round.

The imc Diversity & Inclusion crew has every reason to be pleased with this year’s programme. The Executive Board’s Sven R. Becker is also very pleased:

 

“Once again, the feedback from the imc family on our Diversity & Inclusion programme has been very positive. It’s a wonderful testament to what a grassroots movement can lead to. This is a bottom-up initiative, something our staff created entirely on their own, so I have absolutely no doubt they will achieve their goal of making diversity and inclusion part of our company’s DNA and integrating it into our corporate culture.”

RELATED CONTENT

Why "Diversity & Inclusion" is more than a nice add-ons

Companies recognised early on that D&I management can also be of benefit to them. It has been proven that diverse teams increase productivity and business results. In addition, companies want to secure the best talents and this is only possible if they can acquire from a diverse environment. At imc, diversity is also seen as a driver for innovation.

Diversity Wall, featured image

Cultural Diversity - Working in an Intercultural Company

Our offices are spread around the world, in twelve international locations to be exact. There are 49 nations working together. Today we want to take a closer look at two of our offices and met Francisca Lim, Brand Manager at imc Singapore and Gijs Daemen, Brand Manager at imc UK for a virtual coffee.

CONTACT

Contact

I joined the imc newsroom team in 2021. As a journalist my heart beats for content and storytelling.

 

I’m excited to figure out how e-learing and digitization affect the future of work. My task is to create content to talk about and I’m always looking for trends.

 

Privately I love to travel and eat Tapas.

 

Topics: E-Learning Trends, Corporate Social Responsibility, Press and Influencer Relations

Nina Wamsbach
Communication Manager
Photo of imc colleagues
Job Slot
Unique people. Random questions.

Living the dream as Hosting Engineer: career start with determination and plenty of high spirits

Even as a child, she dissambled computers and was curious to learn exactly how they worked. For Suwhathi Sutheswaran it was always clear that she would take up a technical profession. In the Job Slot interview, she reveals how she became a hosting engineer at imc and what she thinks of the supposed male domains in IT.

Suwhathi Sutheswaran

Suwhathi Sutheswaran

Job | Hosting Engineer

Working in | Saarbrücken, Germany

Worked at imc since | 2021

Super power | Determined, willing to learn & cheerful 

Favourite food | Dad’s home-made Indian food

imc Job Slot seperator job and career

Hello Suwhathi! First of all, welcome at imc. You only joined us a few months ago. Did you get off to a good start?

Thank you. Yes, my initial experiences were great. All my colleagues are extremely nice, and I’m thrilled about the welcome they offered. That was particularly exciting for me, because this is my first graduate job.

How did you hear about imc?

During my studies in Communications Technology, I sought advice on various jobs and graduate opportunities. I was unsure what exact role would suit me, as I take a fairly broad approach and have many interests. Even after completing some internships and holding various part-time jobs, I had still not quite figured out, which direction I should take.

My career advisor suggested I look at business consultancy, and I originally applied for that field with imc. My interview was very encouraging, and I was very much able to see myself in that role.

 

But then things took a different turn. It was quite funny. HR not only looked at the Consulting vacancy, but also at a position in Hosting. Since I have a sound base of technical know-how, they asked if I could also imagine taking on that role. I thought that was a really exciting idea. Soon after, I interviewed for that position with Matthias Fay, the Head of Hosting and now my manager. Again, it just felt right.

 

So, I was left to choose between Consulting and Hosting. The decision was not easy, but in the end, I went for the Hosting team – and I’m really happy there.

job slot chosing direction

What exactly do you do as a Hosting Engineer?

In very simple terms, hosting means providing webservices on the internet. In our case, that is our customers’ learning management systems. For the greatest part, these are hosted in AWS or Azure Cloud.

As Hosting Engineers, we are responsible for installing and monitoring these systems, make adjustments for changes and deliver software updates. We also carry out maintenance and ensure that all systems are up to date.

 

Other key aspects are database management and backups. It is always worth having a backup in case something crashes. It’s very much the same as with a personal computer. Right now, we are very focused on simplifying certain processes. Many tasks are still performed manually, and we aim to automate them, so they can simply run in the background.

What do you like best about your work?

I really like how versatile the job is, but also love how the different departments collaborate. For example, we are working closely with Support and Business Consulting. That allows you to gain a much wider range of insights, and I find that very exciting.

 

I also truly appreciate my colleagues making a great deal of time for me. Given that I’m just starting out in my career, I have to learn most things from scratch. Here, everyone supports me and really gives me a chance to grow into the projects and my responsibilities. That sort of development and encouragement is not something I take for granted. However, I want to do the job and I want to learn, and I think my colleagues know and honour that.

Job Slot Teamwork

What skills are particularly important in your job?

Naturally, an interest and a good understanding of technical matters are key. On top of that, it is important to focus on solutions, take responsibility, be diligent and stay focused. After all, we interact with sensitive client systems and data, and they need to be handled with great care.

 

I believe willingness to learn is a vital aspect, since the technology is always changing. That is something to always keep in mind – You never stop learning, you have to keep at it. Of course, team spirit and good communication skills are hugely important, but that applies to most jobs.

On a scale of 1-10, how well did your vocational training prepare you for your current role?

Well, I have to say, my degree in Communications Technology alone was not really enough. I did some additional courses on the side to feel more prepared while also boosting my prospects on the job market. Together, that probably adds up to a five.

Jobslot

Now, a few random questions going beyond your work itself: What are you looking forward to each day the most?

My fiancé lives in Paris, and we mostly speak on the phone after work. That always gives me lots of energy when I’m tired at the end of my work day. It also helps me wind down in the evening.

Please complete this sentence: To me, digitalisation means ...

Above all, flexibility. Our hybrid and flexible work model lets me choose whether I want to work from home or come into the office. That is very convenient.

What did you want to be as a kid and why?

I always knew I wanted to do something technical. As a kid, I was always tinkering with old monitors and computers. I desperately wanted to know what they look like on the inside, and how everything works. That made a degree in that field an obvious choice.

What is your favourite movie?

I really like all types of movies, from action through romance to comedy.

Who do you look up to in your professional or personal life?

Back in my university days, I watched the anime series One Piece. It very much appealed to me. It’s about a boy called Luffy who is travelling the world in his search for a treasure that is said to be impossible to find. Yet, he never gives up. It really inspired me, and I could somewhat identify with that: I am also very determined and ambitious, and I never give up. I doubt I would have come this far without those traits.

 

Apart from that, women in IT always inspire me. You often hear that women are still an exception in this sector, or even that IT and women are different worlds. That view couldn’t be further from the truth. While I think we have a long way to go, a few inspirational women have already achieved a lot.

Final question: Which country are you most keen to visit?

I definitely want to go to the USA, Australia, Singapore and Southern Europe.

 

Thank you very much Suwhathi and all the best for your future career!

RELATED CONENT
job slot: instructional designer

Career hoppers welcome

Conceptual or instructional designer, editor for digital learning: there are many names for his job.

In this interview Philipp tells us what he really does and why he needs a lot of tact and diplomacy for some clients.

Work or study?

How to become a Media Designer – with an  Apprenticeship or degree? Vanessa Pesch also faced these question after having finished school.

In the job slot she tells, why she decided for an apprenticeship in imc's content team.

IMC CAREER

Would you like to know more about imc as an employer? Then take a look at our career section, maybe there is a suitable position for you.

We are also always happy to receive unsolicited applications!

imc Job Slot: Unique people. Random questions.

Random questions, regularly new faces and jobs – that's the job slot of imc.

Jobslot Logo

Contact person

I have been working in the Marketing & Communication Team at imc since March 2019.

Communication, creating unique content and social media are my passion.

 

"One can not not communicate" - Paul Watzlawik.

To explain complex content in an understandable way and thus make the topic of e-Learning accessible to everyone is an exciting challenge every day.

 

Privately I love to read, play poker and travel a lot.

I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions.

Photo of Nadine Kreutz
Nadine Kreutz
Communication Manager
Kerstin Steffen and Kenny Littlepage
move!
Backstage at imc

New work at imc: Shaping the work culture of tomorrow

What the development of a shared working world with the best possible outcomes for employees, customers and the organisation looks like

New work is in. Everyone’s talking about it. There are discussions about flexible working hours, new office concepts or even the 4-day week. All these models focus on one thing: companies want to put employees in the focus and create a working environment in which creativity, self-determination and flexibility are lived.

 

This change is also actively driven forward at imc. We therefore spoke with a New Work pioneer, who is helping to manage the process. In the move! interview, Kerstin Steffen reveals what is meant by performance culture instead of attendance culture, why imc decided against a total change to home office work and what role managers play in all this. 

Kerstin Steffen

Director Brand Strategy and New Work Pioneer

imc move

Hello Kerstin! Thank you for making time. imc has recognised that a new work culture is needed and started the New Work Initiative. When did you start the “transformation phase” and why did you take this step?

Kerstin Steffen: We were tied to our home offices for almost two years because of the corona situation. That already gave us many opportunities for development. Before we embarked on the actual transformation, we were facing the question: “Is it actually reasonable to take a step back, or should we continue pressing ahead?” We made the decision to move to a “100% flexible but not 100% remote” model. The transformation phase serves to smooth the transition to the new official, hybrid work model we will adopt in 2022. We want to offer the teams the opportunity to try out and test things, and to incorporate their experiences into the new work culture.  

Photo of Kerstin Steffen
The model we believe in is 100% flexible but not 100% remote.
Kerstin Steffen
Director Brand Strategy

100% flexible but not 100% remote – What exactly does that mean?

Kerstin Steffen: Simply put, it means that our activities are no longer tied to the office as a matter of principle, but the company affords us the flexibility to decide whether we want to work from home or from the office. You could also describe it as performance over attendance culture. We have no fixed attendance quota, but time in the office should be agreed with the team and the manager, and flexibility must not compromise organisational objectives.

 

While we firmly believe in flexibility, we clearly decided against moving all work to the home office. The relationship and commitment to the company remains very important to us. We want our offices to remain a place of communication and interaction – and that applies to official team meetings as much as personal discussions over a coffee.

You established a New Work Pioneers team. Which departments do the team members come from? How do you collaborate?

Kerstin Steffen: The core team of the New Work Pioneers is based at the headquarters in Saarbrücken where the decision to embark on the New Work Initiative was made. We selected the team based on competences and included members from Internal IT, HR as well as Communications. That allows us to bring together the core competences to support process changes within the pillars of people, technology and spaces. Of course, we can add members that contribute other skills as and when we need them.

 

We hold regular meetings at least once a week, where we discuss and prioritise all the topics in our target plan, as well as any issues that arise. At times, the core team is split into smaller project teams. For instance, we maintain regular feedback loops with the managers of our different offices to get everyone involved. It also helps us see where improvements are needed and highlight how we might provide support from the headquarters.

Can you summarise the objectives of the imc New Work Initiative in one sentence?

Kerstin Steffen: The overarching goal is to develop a working world together that generates the best possible outcomes for us as employees, our organisation as well as our customers in the given context and situation. In other words: We love being flexible, but this is tied to the condition that the corporate objectives are met and performance is maintained.  

Julia, Kerstin and Nadine

Would you say this mindset is what makes new work at imc so special? What is the difference between your approach and the total switch to home office work other companies have realised?

Kerstin Steffen: We are a digital brand and stand for learning. Naturally, we want to understand modern formats and establish ourselves as a pioneer. Yet, compared to the key players in the market, we still have some catching up to do. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasise that this was a fantastic step for imc, and that our colleagues and applicants already consider it an absolute benefit. Working together to drive and shape cultural change is also a huge opportunity – and I invite everyone to seize it. We can be fairly sure that this is not a universal prospect offered by all companies, which makes it a USP for us.

 

Personally, I really want to see every single person benefitting from it. That means we also need to be open to constructive criticism and listen to concerns, no matter how excited we are about our ideas and progress.

 

We are all learning together throughout this change process, and our success is dependent on wide-spread acceptance.

What role does remote or virtual (team) leadership play in this transformation?

Kerstin Steffen: It is very much a matter of mindset. We know that team leaders and managers play a key role, because they represent the corporate values and culture to a great extent and infuse the company with these. We adapted the leadership model and developed three new pillars or principles: Lead, Coach and Care. Our managers receive targeted training to develop and enable them to realise these principles and respond to the new circumstances. Based on my experience, I would say traditional management elements should be combined with agile methods. While I’m a huge fan of digitisation, I believe that digital tools are no substitute for personal contact. We consider hybrid formats a great opportunity, but gradual development is key. We are already holding intensive talks and testing various formats.

 

Managers also need to learn to place more trust in their employees and to be more organised themselves. Flexibility also involves walking away from rigid principles and allowing new things. It is important that managers adjust their mindset to support this.

Kerstin and Gijs

What were the biggest challenges? How did you respond to them?

Kerstin Steffen: We are facing challenges every day, and I’m sure that will still be the case after the transformation. We are really looking at an agile learning process – for our leadership as well as things like our hardware, office equipment or seating arrangements. Being spread out across different locations on different continents doesn’t exactly make it easier, but we are welcoming that challenge. We might not be 100% perfect, but we genuinely try to create a new work culture step by step. We are all highly motivated and rather proud to see our first successes taking shape.

 

Internal Communications and HR contribute a lot of the support for the measures. It is important to us that the changes are transparent and successes are visible.

How was the transformation phase communicated to the employees? How can you avoid unsettling employees?

Kerstin Steffen: Communication in itself is always important! Once the decision had been made, we first informed the team leaders and asked them to talk to their teams and relay any unanswered questions to us. We then made a global announcement through the official executive channel in the form of a virtual event and sent out an info email with a recording of the official announcement. In addition, we created points of contact in the intranet where information can be obtained, and key questions are answered. New formats were introduced to provide information as well as encourage employees to participate in the dialogue. Of course, the Transformation Team is always available to answer any questions.

 

Beyond our efforts to inform, each team is invited to help shape the transformation and to identify what is important for the team. We created a global framework. It is now up to each team where they go with that and how they develop it.

Kerstin Steffen

What is the employees’ response to the initial changes? Have you received positive or negative feedback yet?

Kerstin Steffen: The feedback we received was mostly positive, which motivates us to drive the transformation. Naturally, concerns and worries were voiced, but that is to be expected in any change process. It is important to take that seriously and actively offer support. It is easy to get carried away, and we must remind ourselves that it is not only a major change in the organisation, but also a cultural shift. That demands sensitive and responsible support.  

You still want to trial and test various things. What can we look forward to at imc? What else have you planned?

Kerstin Steffen: First of all, we improved our internal communication channels and created new channels to strengthen team spirit. For instance, we started a newsletter that plays a key role in actively providing information and highlight success stories. We want to make small steps visible, initial successes tangible and let employees share in the experience.

 

The new formats we created aim to enhance collaboration and communication. The offer will gradually grow: We will create global guidelines, hold workshops and include smaller learning nuggets.

 

We will also incorporate formats such as social learning, informal learning and user generated content. Our brand ambassadors are also actively helping to shape the transformation. Measures like our BarCamp, Espresso Webinars and Flow & Focus sessions are already well-established and successful. Of course, we will develop these further and make them more professional. As to the strategic aspects, the adaptation of our leadership programme will be crucial, and we are professionalising our operational model.

Thank you for your time, Kerstin! We are excited to see what you have in store for us.

RELATED CONTENT
move! Backstage at imc

In exciting background articles, event reports and photo galleries, we show you how the working environment at imc is changing.

imc move logo

Contact person

I' ve been working as a permanent member of the imc Marketing & Communication Team since 2021. The mix of creative content creation, social media and online marketing activities excites me the most about my job.

 

My goal is to inspire people with creative and innovative content and to make the imc brand more tangible.

 

My passion besides my job? Travelling a lot and discovering the world. I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions at [email protected]!

Doreen Hartmann imc
Doreen Hartmann
Junior Marketing and Communication Manager