IMQS hires from a wide pool of talent with diverse backgrounds. We appreciate diversity and new perspectives. Learn more about Heinrich Gerber, a mechanical engineer with a background in commercial diving, now applying his approach to project management as a proud product owner at IMQS.
HEINRICH, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UNIQUE BACKGROUND
I am a qualified mechanical engineer. Before I arrived at IMQS, I spent around 13 years working in the commercial diving sector. I more specifically worked in the design and manufacture of submersible vehicles.
The domain was very interesting and challenging. Keeping people alive under water is more difficult than ensuring their safety in space!
During this time I also acquired an in-depth knowledge of customer support from an engineering side, setting up and then running technical support services and dealing with some tricky customers.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WAY TO IMQS?
The diving industry is very technologically adverse. From a career perspective I knew that the information technology sector was moving forward and I was interested in getting exposure.
A friend told me about product ownership and then about an opportunity at IMQS. Needless to say, I applied and was lucky enough to be recruited to join a completely new project team in the area of telecommunications.
The seeding process at IMQS was really effective and I was very quickly and easily inducted into the IMQS family and culture.
HOW DID YOU ADAPT TO THE SOFTWARE ENGINEERING ENVIRONMENT?
Entering a new domain is hard work, whether it is software development or infrastructure management. For example, working on roads has taught me much about civil engineering. Working within the Agile framework of project management has exposed me to a great deal of knowledge on lean manufacturing.
Although my passed experience lies in a different domain and industry, I was able to bring the very good grounding I obtained in project management to IMQS. With that as a basis, I was able to re-align my own learned structures and adapt them for the software environment. Essentially, you are confronted with the same variables when managing crisis in any project– clients, projects, deadlines, teams, and priorities.
Not having a technical background in software actually helped me translate technical issues into a language that clients could more readily understand. In this way, I have been able to keep clients engaged by allowing them to better understand where their project/money was going.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT APPROACH
I have enjoyed being exposed to Agile Product Development, especially IMQS’ pragmatic approach to it. Two key areas stand out for me:
Communication is key in any business. You need to always be aware that you are dealing with a human with their own understanding of a situation and own history. If you get to build a relationship, then communicating and understanding each other is much easier. This facilitates understanding and thus collaboration.
2. TEAM MOTIVATION
What does your team want and what makes them happy?
This is an important question. A developer wants to put out a piece of software and feel achievement when someone logs in and uses the piece of software. If the priorities in terms of development stories add value to the product or more broadly, people will work real hard to achieve outcomes.
It is also important, in terms of team management, to adequately deal with disappointment.
As a product owner you don’t make technical calls. It is your job to keep emotions positive and stable. Stability is the key ingredient, so you stand as a buffer between the client and your team. You manage information and try to always maintain a positive perspective.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING AT IMQS?
The first thing that comes to mind is the IMQS culture.
The highest reason why people leave a job is because they don’t enjoy the people they work with. In the software industry, staff turnover is very high worldwide. You can learn a lot about the length of stay of developers at a company, and at IMQS you have some that have been here for about 10 years. This is amazing. I think this is due to the culture that gives you ownership and enables you to effect positive change.