Cemitas are a kind of Mexican hamburger - and they're maybe not Christian's favorite food. But these hamburgers have shaped the way he understands team spirit and, in turn, his career. One day, Christian went for lunch with his colleagues in a small Mexican village. During the night, he suddenly felt unwell - so unwell that he needed a doctor. He later found out that he had a severe case of food poisoning. One of his employees picked him up from home, drove him to hospital, and took care of everything while Christian was treated.
For Christian, working in America was nothing short of a turning point - one that still has an impact today. The sense of togetherness, of supporting one another, has become tremendously important in his day-to-day work. And it helps him in his current role, as Head of IT Development & Innovation at ZEISS' Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment. Christian forms and coaches teams so they can develop and implement the requirements for IT solutions that other areas define for his department.
“We're working on the 'front lines.' Our job is to find solutions that we can get off the ground fast while also putting together and pursuing medium- to long-term strategies.” After all, Christian and his team of software architects and software developers also see themselves as drivers of the digital transformation in their area. “We're sparring partners for digitalization topics.” These range from machine learning and web technologies to automating business processes. Christian is the glue that holds his team together: he coaches, guides, and manages his staff. And above all, he enables his team to work independently. “If it comes to a point where I’m no longer needed, then I’ve done everything right,” he says with a smile.
Christian has moved around a lot. He has worked at a number of different companies and has seen a fair bit of the world.
After leaving school, he completed a training program at a telecommunications company. But he quickly realized it wasn’t the right place for him. So he went back to school, graduated with the diploma he needed, and then went to college, where he studied computer science and business information systems, spent six months in Taiwan, and then set up IT systems in automobile factories in China for a German company. This move didn't just enhance his career, it also sharpened his ability to bring people with different backgrounds together in a profitable way.
Next, he went to Mexico, for a stint that left a lasting impression on him. Here, too, it was meeting new people that fascinated him and helped him grow. “When you're abroad, you have to rely on yourself and your team,” he says. Is there such a thing as a job according to the rules? Not at all. You just have to step up. That's a lesson he won't be forgetting in a hurry.
When Christian returned to Germany a few years later, he felt as though time had stood still there, while the wider world had been moving at a faster pace. But while many things in Germany may have seemed to have remained the same, Christian found that it was actually he who had changed. “That was when I realized that I didn’t want to go back to my old job, back to conventional IT.” That's when he got an offer from ZEISS to head up the new IT Development & Innovation division at the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment.
“ZEISS works on world-class products,” says Christian, adding: “We develop technologies that really do change the world - in fact, many aspects of digitalization depend on them!” That's what gets him excited, and that's what he wants to help bring to life. And his role gives him the opportunity to do exactly that. In addition to developing flexible and agile solutions, he and his team are designing the roadmap for the digital transformation.
He does this by contributing his expertise and profound experience. But when Christian is talking, you also notice that those factors are only one part of his success. He's also a real team player, believes in his employees, makes demands of them and supports them. What really excites him is diversity and, as he emphasizes, that is exactly what a company like ZEISS needs today. Working with different people. That's what he loves and what drives him.