Working at EDITEL: interview with Alexander Schaefer
Behind the scenes: Mr. Schaefer, why do so many people enjoy working at EDITEL’s IT department?
Constant change is a given at EDITEL, which is one of the reasons why a strikingly high number of employees has worked at the company for so many years. No day is like any other. What always stays the same is our high quality standard. This sums up my 11-year experience at EDITEL. As the company’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), I am in charge of all things IT at EDITEL. If you are considering joining our team, you might be wondering what happens behind the scenes and if you are a good fit for our company. I will be answering questions from our HR department, some of them quite unorthodox ones, in an effort to give you a glimpse into the work we do and to encourage you to apply.
Why do you personally like working at EDITEL?
I like working at EDITEL because the company is constantly evolving in an international setting and does so very successfully. At the same time, this is also a challenge, but an exciting one. With all these new things happening, there is never a dull moment. This combination of a consistent quality standard and the permanent quest for potential for improvement is highly motivating.
What IT areas are available at EDITEL?
At EDITEL, we have specialized services for infrastructure, software development, and support. The largest area is our software development team. It includes analysts, Java developers, and software testers. Our infrastructure team ensures high-availability server operations and network security. And our support service is in touch with our clients, which makes it our face to the public. People who work there need specialized expertise as well as social skills in equal measure. Overall, more than 200 employees work at EDITEL Group. Since we are also in charge of IT services for our parent company, we are responsible for more than 200 workplaces.
What does a “typical day at the office” look like in IT?
Every function has its unique processes. As a general rule, we work in “Scrum” cycles. Scrum is a versatile methodology for the swift and reliable development of products. This approach is not limited to software development, but also applies to other departments. This allows for maximum flexibility when working on projects and to review our performance or progress every two weeks. We then use the results to plan our subsequent steps.
Do you as the person who has the overall responsibility monitor this personally?
Teams usually do the performance review on their own to see if they have reached what they had planned to achieve. This is the only way to make sure that teams themselves work on improving their work on an ongoing basis. These are all very smart people who do not need anybody to constantly tell them what to do. But it goes without saying that I make sure that people work well together and that goals are actually achieved.
So you probably appreciate it when new employees take things into their hands?
Exactly. We want employees to play an active role. There is never a shortage of different opinions that can be put on the table and discussed. This is something that we appreciate because this allows us to find new and creative approaches to the tasks at hand.
There are quite a few people who have been working for EDITEL for a long time. In your opinion, what are the reasons for this?
Here are a few reasons I can come up with off the top of my head: the teams themselves because they work very well together, which makes for a great corporate culture. Another factor is that we permanently expand our expertise. This is enriching for our work culture and ambience. Another factor is that we can see our success on the market each and every day and that we offer actual added value to our clients. This means that our success makes us strive for even more success.
To you, what is EDITEL’s “spirit” all about? What are your corporate values?
This is obviously a very subjective issue. I think it comes down to the fact that many people have known each other for a long time and really appreciate each other. We have direct communication channels and people are always happy to help. And there are quite a few activities that take place outside our working hours. Another interesting factor is that we are a very diverse company with people from all walks of life. This helps us think outside the box. The one thing that we definitely have in common is our commitment to high quality regarding our products and our performance. We also believe in giving new employees plenty of time to “immerse” themselves into this very specific world. In addition, we must never forget that as a growing company, we do face certain challenges and that there are areas that need improvement. But I guess that is true for a lot of companies like ours.
What about teleworking? Do you offer this option?
Yes, teleworking is definitely something we offer. Actually, during the lockdown, most of our IT employees except a few are working from home. It is working very well and we all have plenty of video conferences, webinars, online events, etc. At EDITEL, this option was available even before the lockdown. I think it is important to find the right balance here and there are also many advantages to having an everyday office life. In any case, we try to take everybody’s personal situation into account, for example, if somebody has children or lives alone and might develop cabin fever.
What do you particularly appreciate about your employees?
To me, it is really important for employees to assume responsibility for their tasks. I also appreciate employees who think outside the box instead of just focusing on their specific area.
What does it take to be a good boss?
IT employees definitely need their freedom. On the other hand, I have seen that it is important and useful for employees to have guidelines and goals. The challenge here is to find some middle ground. It is up to others to assess if a supervisor does a good job or not. In any case, being an executive is not always easy.
Let’s assume a job candidate walks into the office. What should they pay attention to and what should they avoid?
The most important thing is that candidates do not pretend to be somebody they are not. I think candidates should present themselves in a good light without trying to be what they are not. It is very easy to see if somebody is being honest and how they feel about things they have done in the past.
What advice do you have for new employees?
Here is something that is very important for us and that applies to all new employees: we never stop learning. EDI is not a business that you can learn from a textbook. As a result, we rarely hire employees who already have a background in EDI. Anybody who would like to work in IT at EDITEL needs the willingness to learn a lot of new things.
Are business trips part of the job profile?
These days, a lot of things can be done online that previously required a business trip. However, we still have business trips in Austria and abroad if the personal contact is important. But there are obviously differences between our specific departments. Some of us do travel to our subsidiaries on a regular basis.
What about events?
Attending internal and external events is definitely an option, depending on our employees’ tasks. This allows for knowledge exchange with colleagues from other countries.
Does EDITEL take part in events?
Absolutely. The events we attend include client events, industry meetings, career days as well as internal team-building events. In the past few months, we had no choice but to hold most of these events online.
Does EDITEL encourage people to be creative and to present new ideas or does the company strictly follow internal guidelines?
Unlike what most people think, software development is not a monotonous, but a creative process. It follows that creativity is something we definitely need for finding solutions. But I would also like to emphasize that we do have certain rules we need to follow and that we must meet very strict quality standards because our clients quite rightly expect us to. This means that there are activities where you have to follow predefined processes and document them, while there are other activities that require creativity.
How many internal meetings per week do you have?
There is no generally valid answer to that because it depends on the job you have. Our internal organization does require a certain number of meetings. And yet, an internal meeting is never an end in itself, but is primarily designed to exchange information efficiently.
EDITEL also has international business activities. Is it possible to work at one the group’s subsidiaries abroad?
Yes, we are very excited to offer the opportunity to work abroad because this allows us to exchange ideas and experiences within our corporation. The eligibility for these programs depends on the position and we customize these international rotations as needed.
Do you offer CPD opportunities?
Continuing professional development is essential and a priority at EDITEL. Since we are not a huge corporation, we can adapt our CPD plans to our employees’ needs. Generally speaking, we have an annual CDP budget for every employee. This allows our employees to broaden their expertise in areas that makes sense for our company.
To conclude, please complete the following two sentences: It is essential for my employees to…
…have team spirit and be passionate about what they do.
It is essential for my employees not to…
To learn more about job openings at EDITEL and the required qualifications, please visit: www.editel.eu/careers-at-editel
About the author
Chief Information Officer (CIO) at EDITEL Austria
EDITEL, an EDI service provider, is the internationally leading provider of EDI solutions (EDI = Electronic Data Interchange). The company specializes in the optimization of supply chain processes for companies of all sizes and in all industries.
Portrait photo copyright Editel/Petra Spiola
Symbolic image copyright pixabay, mohamed_hassan