„The role of the leader is to suck out the poison from the system“

 
In December, Csaba Tamas, principle solutions architect at AWS will be speaking at Leaders in Tech | Berlin. The talk “Cultural ingredients of high performance, innovative teams” will bring together Csaba’s experience starting his own company, working in the finance sector (both Mittelstand and in startups), and now at Amazon. Based on this real-world experience and a robust theoretical framework on motivation, Csaba will share why it’s crucial for leaders to rethink how to build and scale organisations. In particular, for technology companies and knowledge workers, what does agility and flexibility look like? How can organisations structure themselves to provide autonomy to teams, without descending into anarchy and losing focus? 
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
 
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to be where you are now.
I started my professional career as an anchorman on Hungarian national television, but very quickly switched into computing, which was my other love and hobby. I started building digital television studios in early 2001-2002. Digitising analog studios had a huge advantage for companies because they could reduce their studio costs from literally millions to hundreds of thousands. I then created a small company but I burned through all of my money in one and a half years. I was this tech guy who had great ideas in his garage (actually it was in the attic) but had no clue on how to sell it, how to position it, how to do marketing, how to do communication, PR, anything like that.
This was the reason why I teamed up with a guy who sold physical security for banks. He had relationships with banks, but he didn’t have the knowledge or know-how for the IT security part. During this cooperation we got to know an Austrian company of banking and service automation. Eventually the Austrian company said they would like to start a subsidiary in Romania with us. This was a company where I needed to learn to trick a lot of the system to deliver the service levels which banks were used to getting from bigger enterprises with hundreds or thousands of employees. We needed to be very efficient all the time. We couldn’t have any waste because we were only a few people.
 
When did you get interested in how organisations are structured and can transform themselves?
[The Austrian banking company] invited me to become part of the management in Austria and guide them through a so-called digital transformation. At that time, I approached it in a somewhat technocratic way, more from the process point of view. I knew how a well-oiled Swiss clock should work, so this was the original idea. I thought that in a few months I will just reorganise them, and I will show them how to deliver more with less. This turned out to be a three-and-a-half-year very hard-learned lesson for me. It was also a very hard time, understanding a lot about human nature and human psychology, about how much people are influenced not just by the facts, but also by fears, their impressions and their emotional side.
By definition I’m more driven by facts than by emotions but on the other side I needed to understand how to persuade people to change old habits and the old guard to give up some things. I did an MBA in Romania and the most interesting classes where around organisational behavior, organisational design, so the human aspect of business. It also opened my eyes in the direction of Simon Sinek or Daniel Pink.
 
You talked about the acronym VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. What can you tell me about these types of environments and the types of teams that are working in them?
The type of work in digital innovation is not very repeatable, it’s not very predictable. We have a lot of companies who try to be agile, who try to be fast moving reacting to the customer needs. They’re still applying a lot of old-world reactions or muscle memories on how they should structure teams, how they should manage teams, how they should lead teams, how teams are motivated, or what motivates teams. In this new world, nothing is really fixed, no two days are comparable. Every day you do something different. How can you build an organisation and how can you scale an organisation in a way that you become successful? 
 
What is an example of these old-fashioned team structures?
We can look a little bit at how different companies are achieving success and see it also through the cultures of these different companies. Looking at this Austrian Mittelstand company, these kinds of companies are very strict and very hierarchical. You always need to request or ask for permission to make a decision and move something forward in the organisation.
At the same time what we see at Amazon is a concept of two-way door decisions and one-way door decisions. What the management says: the majority of decisions are two-way door decisions, meaning that you open the door, you make the decision. It’s like you opened the door and you cross the door and you look in the other room. If you like the result, you stay there. If you don’t like the result there, you just turn around and you come back right. 
There are some decisions of which you cannot turn back. For example, if you make a PR mistake, that’s super hard to be turned around. This is typically is a one-door decision. The organisation says whatever decision is a two-way door decision, it’s yours to make. This gives a lot of agility and edge to the organisation, because each and every employee can decide.
 
What about motivating people? How do companies differ in this area?
Daniel Pink in Motivation 2.0 says that in order to have motivated people, you have to have three major cornerstones defined: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. You give autonomy for decisions. For your employees, you give them a reason, you give them a vision, you give them a direction where to go: that would be purpose. Mastery is the skills which have to be there, and you need to scale up your people. Only when these three things are altogether, can you have a team which is really performing well. If you just have the skills and you have the autonomy, but there is no purpose, there are false starts. People are frustrated because they don’t understand the direction. 
We see this very frequently in startups and not just startup organisations, also in Mittelstand and enterprise companies where the C-level somehow locks themselves into an ivory tower and forget to communicate the vision to the rest of the departments. Then they are wondering why people are not behind their decisions.
 
Why is this important? What is the sort of greater social context that this is taking place in?
For me the starting point is that the complexity of our businesses is growing. By having higher complexity, there is no one person who can oversee everything and who can follow up on everything. The role of the C-level is no longer the all-knowing sage who receives all the input data and calls all the shots. Because this would definitely slow down the organisation just by the simple fact that you need thousands of decisions to be made every day. What you need to do to enable an organisation to evolve quickly is to give them the ability to make decisions by themselves.
 
How does this fit into your own personal journey as a leader and a manager?
When I went to this Austrian company, I told my wife in the first year that I was so frustrated. It’s five o’clock now and I couldn’t work yet. I just had meetings and I was just speaking to people — nothing useful. I did nothing useful! She said, “Have you considered that from now on this is your job? To align with people and help unlock the bottlenecks they have?”
This resonated a lot because a few years back, my organisational design and behavior professor said that the role of the leader is to suck out the poison from the system. At that time I kind of understood, but not really. It really took me some time, some years later, when it started to make sense. People, when they interact, people, when they have different motivations, especially when organizations are bigger and especially if performance and meritocracy are not in place, and it’s not clear what good looks, then there is a lot of poison in there.
 
Are there any other thoughts you’d like to include for people considering coming to the talk?
Any type of leader who is in the tech business and are wondering how they could inspire their colleagues to succeed together, how they can improve the togetherness, how they can create glue in their teams to create this feeling of belonging, to create this feeling we are one family, we are marching towards one goal and to have people who a bunch of people who believe the same things and they move mountains. How do you unlock the potential in the good intentions of people, and how you can transform your organisation into a better performing organisation at the end of the day. This is the story of creating a cult, creating a culture in your company of performance, a culture of belonging, a culture of changing the world together.
 
Learn more about building innovative technology teams and structuring for uncertainty from Csaba, join Leaders in Tech | Berlin on Wednesday December 11th, 2019.  To join contact [email protected]
 

Peter Minev captivates Leaders in Tech crowd with stories from building Careem’s tech team from scratch

Building a technology team from zero to 130 strong in two years, for most companies and managers, sounds like a huge challenge, if not downright impossible. In October, Peter Minev shared his experience doing just that as Director of Engineering at Careem’s R&D Center in Berlin. The group of technology leaders in Berlin was gathered on the top floor of Omio’s office in Berlin-Mitte to listen to what Peter cautioned is “not a cookbook… it always depends on the context and your domain.”

Despite this “warning”, the evening was full of useful insights and anecdotes about what it was like to build an engineering team from scratch, in a country where no one had heard of Careem or used its service. Peter’s talk for Leaders in Tech was called “Scaling tech: planning for uncertainty” and in addition to speaking about what he learned and experienced at Careem, he also invited the attending managers, CTOs, department heads, and engineering leads to talk about what they’ve learned from leading growing tech teams. 
Careem began as a ride-hailing company, but is now expanding its services across its platform, including payments, delivery and mass transportation. Peter brings years of experience as an engineer and a manager to the subject, from working in a variety of organizations like VMWare and SAP as well as his own startup.
Susi Krieg, Senior Regional Director North for Austin Fraser in Germany, officially kicked off the evening’s proceedings, introducing the event host, Omio’s VP of Engineering Tomas Vocetk, who then spoke briefly about Omio’s vision for travel. 
 
Building successful tech organizations: 11 lessons in scaling tech and planning for uncertainty
Peter divided his talk into 11 main lessons across the six phases of his journey at Careem. The six phases are 1) forming the non-engineering functions, 2) forming engineering teams, 3) recognising it’s a marathon, not a sprint, 4) balancing between advance planning and continuous adaptation, 5) scaling and dealing with organisational debt, and 6) getting and keeping an exceptional team.
 
Forming the non-engineering functions
When Peter joined Careem, his job was to build up an engineering team in Berlin. But without a subsidiary or any of the regular processes or people in place that a company needs in order to work, his first task was to create these non-engineering functions like an office, legal, recruiting, and finance. There were three lessons from this phase: 

Never (ever) underestimate non-engineering functions
Don’t take shortcuts, do them correctly from the start
Don’t lose sight that they’re prerequisites to the actual goal, so get through them as quickly as possible

 
Forming engineering teams
Once the fundamentals are in place, the question becomes how to hire the right teams and give them meaningful work to do. Especially when the company is headquartered somewhere else, it’s hard to build trust with key stakeholders early on to get new, interesting areas to work and to be able to work autonomously. There are also three lessons in this section of the talk:

The Berlin teams proved their capabilities by working with other teams on some areas, this helped them when they wanted to open up new domains
Even though it might take a long time and be quite difficult to get there, keep striving to make the teams as autonomous as possible
You need to continuously gain trust: both with the rest of the company and with the team you’re building.

Recognising it’s a marathon, not a sprint
It’s easy to get caught up in single issues or what’s right in front of you, but building a large team is a long-term goal and needs to be treated as a marathon. While you should always be making progress, there are key principles you shouldn’t compromise on, like 

Never lower the bar to hire faster
Never optimize for individuals, you’re building a company
Celebrate achievements!

The main takeaway from this phase of Careem’s development:

We never compromised long-term results for short-term gains.

 
Balancing between advance planning and continuous adaptation
Peter spoke on this subject for a while, explaining that there’s a big difference between thinking through your plans rigorously and overplanning, making you inflexible and rigid. HIs trick for always adjusting to the most pressing issues is his second lesson below:

Do your best upfront planning… but be prepared that it will change dramatically
Always base your 3 top problems on data, not on assumptions. 

Scaling and dealing with organisational debt
Nothing is static, so there are many areas which need to keep evolving as an organisation grows, like architectural alignment, performance management, the principles around which teams are formed, roles and responsibilities, and how remote sites work with HQ and vice versa.
The lesson around this is:

Continuously rethink your organizational design

What worked yesterday, doesn’t work today and will kill you tomorrow.
Organisational debt works similarly to technical debt. 

Getting and keeping an exceptional team
The final lesson in the sixth phase of scaling an organisation is making sure that hires have the right behaviors, and that mindset is an important part of acquiring and retaining a talented team. Key behaviours that Careem looked out for were adaptiveness (since the company was growing and evolving quickly), learning (again growth required continuously, fast learning), ownership (it’s a small and nimble organisation without a safety net), and service mindset (to colleagues and customers).
You can watch the highlights of Peter’s talk here.
Want to see more? You can also watch the entirety of Peter Minev’s “Scaling tech: planning for uncertainty” talk.
Peter also was kind enough to share his presentation slides. They’re available here.
 
Kevin Olsen, Director of Labs Advisory Services at Pivotal Software had this to say about the October event: 
“The discussion around cross-office scaling, how to create new teams that earn the trust of the ‘mothership’ was probably the highlight for me. It was a great reminder about the importance of getting facetime between the two offices and building relationships, as well as delivering some initial wins to earn trust. Also, the moment when the main office does finally delegate a project is a real turning point, and Peter’s point that it’s a high stakes moment for the new office, and requires the new team to really deliver to keep that momentum and earn more trust and autonomy.”
 
Marcel Toben, Lead Engineering Manager for Product & Growth at ResearchGate, decided to attend this Leaders in Tech meetup because he said the title really accurately described his current challenge with the teams he works with. After attending this talk (his third), he said, “I would recommend Leaders in Tech to friends and colleagues. I already did actually! The talks are top-notch and the meetup has a special welcoming & communicative flair. I’ve met many nice and smart people.”
 
Austin Fraser is creating a community with Leaders in Tech, bringing together CTOs, CIOs, VPs, heads of IT and all kinds of leaders in technology. At these events, attendees hear from speakers who are engaging in key issues in business and technology. They also have the chance to connect with others who deal with similar problems in their work. 
If you’d like to read more about Peter Minev, check out the interview with him on the Austin Fraser blog, “Scaling tech: There is no silver bullet.” 
After the talk was over, many of the attendees stuck around to chat with each other about the talk, and quite a few had more stories to share with Peter about their own experience scaling teams. Thanks to Austin Fraser and Omio for a great event!

Peter Minev on scaling tech: “There is no silver bullet”

In October, Peter Minev, head of platform engineering at Careem will be speaking at Leaders in Tech | Berlin. His talk “Scaling tech: planning for uncertainty”, will draw from Peter’s experience starting Careem’s engineering office in Berlin which grew from 0 to 130 in less than two years, attracting talent and growing technical teams when no one knew the company. He’ll offer insight into how he approached this challenge, and how he developed a strategy that took uncertainty into account.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
 
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to be where you are now.
I started my career long ago, probably too long ago, as an engineer. In the early days, I held different engineering positions: C++ engineer, Java engineer, later on architect. At some point, I switched to management roles. I worked in big companies and small startups in various domains. I spent six years in automotive, managing different teams in different geographies. In my work at VMware where I spent also 6 years, I was managing teams in India, in the US, and in Europe. 
 
Was there a point in your career when you concretely decided to go from engineering into management?
I don’t think that there was a strict point where I said, this is really what I want to do. It happened gradually, so from an engineer to an architect to a project manager, and then into engineering management. One day when I woke up, I realized I was managing teams in different continents and different geographies. 
It’s not only when you switch from engineering to management that you need new skills, but also when you broaden your responsibilities.  Bigger teams, remote teams, managing and building remote teams, several teams, different cultures, different geographies, etc. This requires new skills, building on top of your existing capabilities. Many of these are not strictly related to engineering. You need to know a little bit of finance, a little bit of business management, business strategy. All this, the learning process, I find very fascinating. 
 
What are the biggest challenges you faced in growing Careem?
When I convinced the founders of Careem to open an office in Berlin, it was quite an exciting journey. Careem was not a popular brand in Germany at all. Nobody knew Careem, and that was the first big challenge that I had to overcome. Whenever I and our recruitment team approached candidates, the first question was, „What is Careem?“ We had to explain what Careem is in the first place before even talking about the specific positions. Building the engineering brand of Careem here in Europe and in Berlin was a big challenge. 
The second challenge: in all my career so far, I was joining established companies and established offices, where I was building engineering teams. Here, we didn’t have a company in Germany at all. I needed to do a lot of other things before I even hired the first engineer. You need to establish the company, to find offices, to find and establish the HR team, the recruitment team, the finance team, the legal team, office management – you need to have all this before hiring the first engineer. 
You cannot hire an engineer if you don’t have a company or an office. It was exciting – you have this tension, you don’t have the patience to wait. You want to hire the teams, you want to form the projects and you want to jump into this initial phase as quickly as possible.
Then, an even bigger challenge was how to grow so fast, from 0 to 130 people in Berlin in two years while keeping healthy engineering teams at the same time. There are many books that tell you, if you grow more than 2x per year, it is suicide. Teams will be destroyed, they will not be productive or efficient, you will have high attrition. 
Is it possible to quickly build a large team of super strong engineers without lowering the bar, but at the same time make these teams extremely productive, efficient, and healthy? This was an extremely big challenge. I think in the end, it was successful, and I am very happy about this journey because I accumulated a lot of learnings along the way.
 
I would have also said growing a team from 0 to 130 in two years is a terrible idea. How did you develop a successful strategy to make this happen?

There is no silver bullet. This was a series of actions which I took, hoping that they would make it successful in the end. I don’t believe that you can start such activity without any strategy at all. You should, even if you have a lot of uncertainties, list your best guesses, list your most probable hypotheses, and then start with this. I needed to have an initial strategy, but also continuously, all the time, I needed to improve the strategy. 
I have a very simple rule for this. In every single moment, I need to know the top three problems for my team, for my company – the top three. Not the top 30. Not the top 300. The top three. 
You’ll be surprised that this gives you a lot of focus because there might be thousands of problems. But what are your top three problems?  As a company evolves, especially so fast, very often these top three problems will change completely. Six months from now, you will have completely different problems from your top three now. In every given moment you have to have these top three problems. When you resolve these three problems, basically what you are doing, is evolving your strategy.
These top three problems are not what you think that are problems. You have to have data, real data that shows you that these are real problems, not only problems that you think in your head. 
It’s a combination between starting with the best that you can, your best shot, and then always evolving this strategy by knowing your top three problems. 
 
Are there any other thoughts you’d like to include for people considering coming to the talk?
From what I saw of previous events there are many people who are quite experienced.  I don’t see this event as me only sharing my experiences. What I’d rather do is to share what I’ve learned, but I also would be very happy for people to share their experiences, more like a discussion. I can contribute what we did here with Careem in Berlin.
I don’t see it like a playbook: that this is what we did in Careem, and this is the one golden rule, go and apply it by the book in your companies. I see it as some key learnings that I applied in some specific situations. If people can take these learnings, think through them, and apply them in their context, I think this will be super useful for many people.
To learn more about scaling technology teams and planning for uncertainty from Peter, join Leaders in Tech | Berlin on Wednesday October 23rd, 2019: 
To join contact [email protected]

finleap’s CTO Tim Duckett breaks down team dynamics with humor for Leaders in Tech | Berlin

What kind of coworker are you? Do you use your power and influence in the workplace like King Joffrey (Game of Thrones) or more like the Russian president? In August, a full house of technology leaders in Berlin convened for the second time this year at MHPLab for Leaders in Tech to explore these questions and their more serious counterparts. This time, the attendees came for Tim Duckett’s talk: “Hacking Power and Politics – A Tech Leader’s Framework” and to hear how other managers, CTOs, department heads, and engineering leads grapple with the challenges of organizing teams. Tim is the CTO at finleap, a fintech company builder, and brings years of experience as an engineer and a manager working in a variety of organizations to the topic.

Austin Fraser organizes Leaders in Tech to bring together CTOs, CIOs, VPs, heads of IT and other senior technology leaders to explore important issues in business and technology, and to build connections between people facing similar challenges. Often hosted by key companies in a city’s startup and technology ecosystem, the meetups attract all kinds of technology leaders. Stephanie Persigehl, senior professional at MHPLab, cited the quality of the leadership talks and the great community as two of the reasons they like to host the Leaders in Tech talks. She also said, “At MHP, we’re delighted to be part of this network and want to foster its continuous growth.”

And network was definitely the word! As everyone entered the building, the team at the reception welcomed each attendee and gave out nametag. Then they had to brave the crowd gathered at the snacks and drinks in the main room. The whole space was buzzing with people introducing themselves to each other and reconnecting with familiar faces from previous events. There were people perched on every space, from the picnic tables in the middle, benches throughout the room, as well as office chairs along the sides for late-comers and those who didn’t want to stand.

Anjo Gaul, community manager for Austin Fraser, officially kicked off the program, introducing both the event hosts and Tim Duckett, the evening’s speaker. You can catch some of Tim’s talk “Hacking Power and Politics – A Tech Leader’s Framework” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Acr7Ve23Kw

The talk was both funny and insightful, starting out with a framework for the different kinds of power and the types of people who wield it. Daniil Pavliuchkov, Chief Product Officer at VAI, commented “I really enjoyed the sarcastic tone and the humour of the talk. It is great when a speaker can connect with the audience and explain complex things in a playful manner that is not childish. All the references and the quirky names really gave me a good laugh.” During the talk, Tim interspersed his slides with anecdotes from his experience working in many different companies. If you’d like to read more about Tim Duckett, check out the interview with him on the Austin Fraser blog, “Sometimes you get a team of people who seem to be all square edges and corners.”
Dmitry Galkin, a DevOps consultant currently working at HERE, decided to attend this Leaders in Tech meetup because he was intrigued by the topic and the speaker’s background. He said it was an interesting presentation, and that he could relate to a lot of the stories from his past experiences. It also didn’t hurt that the surprise of the evening was the burger truck parked right outside the building next to the Spree!

 
As everyone lined up to get a burger and fries, the conversations spilled out into the picturesque outdoor space. Attendees chatted about the talk, how they’d seen the personas and situations that Tim shared play out in their own professional lives. A number of people were continuing to share their experiences and connecting with other attendees out on the patio as the sun started to slip below the horizon. Well after the official program had concluded, people were happy to keep chatting and sharing — thanks to Austin Fraser and MHPLab for a great event!

 
 

Real life at Austin Fraser (part one)

A lot of organisations talk the talk. But, at Austin Fraser, we also walk the walk. In other words, when we say life’s good at our business, it’s not just sales blurb – we’ve got facts and figures to prove it – and that’s why we’ve won ‘OpenCompany’ status from recruitment website, Glassdoor. We’re sharing this in a two-part blog, so you can get an insight about what life is like at Austin Fraser.
Let’s start with something fairly basic and fundamental: your pay.
If you compare us to similar businesses, you’ll find our salaries are pretty competitive. We keep an eye on the rest of the industry and review them regularly. What’s more, they come with a range of benefits that are the equivalent of up to 35% extra value on top of your pay.
And speaking of our international offices, there are seven in total – which you could transfer to thanks to our relocation package. You’ll find us in Reading, UK; Hamburg, Munich and Berlin, Germany; and Austin, Denver and Dallas in the USA. Excitingly, there are two more sites coming soon: San Diego (October 2019) and LA (2020). Each site is in a great location in the heart of the city. Go inside, and you’ll find an attractive, modern environment, with great facilities. We’re talking open spaces for collaboration and state of the art tech with dedicated break-out zones. Everything you need to excel and achieve on your terms.

Working remotely is also a reality, thanks to our hi-spec technology. Everyone has a MacBook, whatever their level of seniority. We’re always looking at ways to improve the kit we provide too. As tech evolves, we’re investing in new developments that benefit our staff. 
However, there’s no point in helping people perform at their best if there’s no way for them to progress. We take your development as seriously as you do and make sure you know how you can advance. That’s why our career paths are as clear-cut and transparent as they get. You can see how your role can evolve – and how much you can earn – right from your very first day. Plus, we’ll make sure you have the Learning & Development to build your skills so you can get yourself promoted. This is an aspect of life at Austin Fraser that stands out in the industry. We believe in giving people the support to get where they want along with the freedom to plan their journey. Our end to end training includes modules for new starters, managers and senior managers. What’s more, learning is simply a part of our culture, so it’s considered perfectly normal to take time out for training.
So that’s the important, practical stuff. But life here is about so much more than that. Stay tuned for the second part of this blog, where we’ll tell you why people like working here so much – the warm and fuzzy stuff!

Tim Duckett: “Sometimes you get a team of people who just seem to be all square edges and corners”

In August, Tim Duckett, CTO at finleap will be speaking at Leaders in Tech | Berlin. His talk “Hacking Power and Politics – A Tech Leader’s Framework” will tackle how technology leaders can frame their challenges aligning culture, habits, and teams. He’ll share ideas from social psychology and organizational behavior and how technologists used to linear structures can apply them successfully.
I interviewed Tim about his journey from electronics engineer to software consultant to MBA to CTO of a fintech company builder, and how it’s informed how he thinks about power and politics and people.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to be where you are now.
My background is software engineering, predominantly, although I came to it by a fairly weird route. I started life as an electronics engineer, so it was all about the hardware, and fell into software development by accident. I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time in consultancy and building and designing things for people. I’ve always had a hybrid role of sitting between the business side of things and the development side of things. At finleap, most of my time is split between recruiting teams that build ventures and working on the early MVP stages of ventures themselves. That split between that varies depending on where in the cycle we are.
Why is going from software engineering to leader or a manager so difficult?
Ultimately, when you dig down far enough, software is binary. When you pull that back up into higher levels, it’s very consistent: if you do certain things, then certain results will happen.
The problem is, as soon as you start applying that to people, it just goes horribly wrong, because people are non-linear. When you get to the stage of your career where you are managing people as a software engineer, you actually have to get people to do things. You find all your tools and models that you have from the software engineering world are useless because people are completely non-linear. 
This is where a lot of people struggle. They try to apply the same kind of linear thinking that they have in the software engineering that has got them to be very successful in that world to get people to try and do things. It goes horribly wrong and they really struggle. 
Is there a framework that helps tech leaders change from this linear thinking to a more nuanced way of understanding this human power relationships?
Let’s get away from the stereotypes of power being just shouting at people and threatening them with a big stick. What does that mean? How is it that some people or organisations manage to get shit done? 
They get shit done by understanding politics. And politics is like applied power. There’s a kind of cliché:

Physics is applied math.
Chemistry is applied physics.
Biology is applied chemistry.
And psychology is like practical applied biology.

There’s an XKCD cartoon of this, and the punchline is that the mathematician is way over on one side, “Hey guys we’re over here!” because math underpins everything.  

https://xkcd.com/435/
Sometimes you get a team of people who seem to be all square edges and corners and they just bash together. If you don’t have any knowledge of what drives and motivates people, if you have no models you can use to figure out what the hell is going on, all you can do is try things at random. It’s so much more efficient and effective if you can try and figure out that maybe this person is more motivated by being seen as the expert within the team than they are with responsibility or monetary rewards.
Are there any particular experiences that you can pinpoint, that have shaped how you think about these relationships and these dynamics within software engineering organizations?
There are a few occasions I can look back on where I got comprehensively outmaneuvered by somebody. I thought I’d won, whatever winning means in that situation. You know that saying “You win the battle but you lose the war”? That’s happened a couple times.
In one particular situation, I thought I had got my way on something, and then six months later I find I completely shafted myself by taking that particular tactic. I failed to understand the political relationship. I won the technical argument: the organization ended up doing something the way I wanted it to be done. About three-four months down the line when performance review time came along, I realized the person I had beaten had a really close relationship with the person who signed off on my performance review. Instead of my performance review being about what a wonderful job I’d done on delivering this really hard project, it was all about how I’d really upset someone three months earlier.
Are there any other thoughts you’d like to include for people considering coming to the talk?
Hopefully what’s come across in the teasers and the summary: this won’t be really dull or dry psychology research. What I’m hoping for is that there are two or three things you can take away and use tomorrow, make it practical. 
It’s not a grand unified theory of everything. It’s not going to be a transform your life overnight so you’ll bounce back into the office tomorrow morning a completely different person. If you can hear one or two of the stories where I completely fucked things up, get a nice bit of schadenfreude out of it, then make your life a bit better by not fucking up in the same ways, then my task here is complete.
 
To learn more about the frameworks around hacking power and politics that Tim has to share, join Leaders in Tech | Berlin on Wednesday August 14th, 2019: 
 

Axel Springer’s CTO shares his cultural hacks with Berlin’s tech leaders

Over fifty people crowded into MHPLab’s kitchen, on a warm summer night in Berlin for the June edition of Austin Fraser’s Leaders in Tech event series. Cold drinks were in high demand as attendees perched on benches and office chairs, and stood in small groups near the hor d’oeuvres getting to know each other as they waited for the main event of the evening, a talk by Sebastian Waschnick, CTO at Axel Springer Ideas Engineering, on hacking company culture.
Leaders in Tech brings together CTOs, CIOs, VPs, heads of IT or other senior technology leaders to engage and learn more about current topics and trends. The talks cover a broad range of topics within the technical, management, and innovation spheres, and draw a diverse crowd of technology leaders. On this particular evening at MHPLab, the audience varied widely in age; many in the crowd were dressed down for the heat (or just in normal startup casual); and based on the chatter, the assembled attendees had come to technology from a variety of different starting points.
After everyone had arrived, grabbed some food and something to drink, the evening officially kicked off with a brief welcomes from Anjo Gaul, community manager for Austin Fraser and from the event host. Then it was time for Sebastian Waschnick’s talk, “You can’t manage culture: Cultural Hacks to try for yourself,” which you can watch here

During the talk, Waschi outlined what he’d discovered about company culture during his career, and how he’d put these lessons into practice at Axel Springer Ideas Engineering by using individual “hacks.” Many of his stories about the different hacks his team tried got members of the audience really excited and curious, they couldn’t help but call out questions. Waschi was happy to engage, and it made the session much more interactive. In fact, even after the talk and the Q&A session ended and people spread out, a circle formed around Waschi to keep the discussion going.
You can review Waschi’s slides by clicking here.
After Sebastian’s talk and the Q&A segment, Austin Fraser community manager Anjo Gaul revealed the surprise he’d teased earlier that day: he’d invited Brewer’s Tribute, a local Berlin brewery, to hold a craft beer tasting during the networking and discussion part of the evening, which spilled out onto the MHPLab’s patio along the river Spree.
One engineering lead told me that he’ll definitely be returning to the next Leaders in Tech gathering. Not only was the setting great, he also said that of all the meetups he’d been to lately, this one had the best food and refreshments. Other attendees had more cerebral (and professional) reasons to keep coming back, like Katja Paar, head of strategy & design at mediaworx. She said “I need to look at the world outside my job and office sometimes, to stay flexible and open-minded.” For her, what sets the Leaders in Tech events apart from other meetups is the “good atmosphere” and that she gets to meet fellow “professionals instead of job seekers”.

Some of the participants were just visiting Berlin, and had found out about Leaders in Tech by chance. Maciej Głowacki, head of growth at Polidea, lives in Warsaw, Poland, and had come to Berlin for a conference. While looking for other events at which to meet people working on technology in Berlin, he stumbled across Leaders In Tech. He decided to come to the meetup because he was interested in connecting with other tech leaders who are facing issues similar to the ones he’s struggling with. It was the right decision. Mac, as he prefers to be called, said “I liked the open and friendly atmosphere of the meeting, which was encouraging to start informal discussions and meet other participants. People were sharing their stories and advice on some best practices to others – you usually don’t get much of such merit-based discussions during meetups.”
As the sun set over the Spree, a surprising number of people were still lingering over their drinks and conversing on the patio. Even an hour after the main part of the event had ended, the attendees still had a lot to say to each other and connections to make — thanks to Austin Fraser and MHPLab!
 

Assistent Vertragsmanagement / Vertriebsinnendienst (m/w/d), München

Diese Rolle ist ein wesentlicher Bestandteil der Vertriebsfunktion von Austin Fraser. Du wirst an dem Commercial & Legal Director berichten und bietest Freiberufler die bei unseren Kunden arbeiten eine zentrale Anlaufstelle. Du wirst eine wichtige Rolle spielen, indem Du proaktiv hervorragende Unterstützung und Beratung bietest. Du arbeitest eng und kooperativ mit den Vertrieb- und Finanzabteilungen zusammen, um Konsistenz und Best Practices zu gewährleisten. Klingt interessant? Dann freuen wir uns auf deine Bewerbung!
Deine Aufgaben

Vertragsmanagement für alle freiberuflichen Vermittlungen über unsere digitale Dokumentenplattform “DocuSign”
Durchführen von Compliance- und Arbeitserlaubnis-Prüfungen für alle freiberuflichen Mitarbeiter, die durch Austin Fraser vermittelt werden
Erstellung, Eingabe und Überprüfung der Verträge für Freiberufler
Verwaltung von Kündigungsbriefen und Änderungswünschen von Freiberuflern
Hauptansprechpartner für Freiberufler
Schnittstelle zwischen Freiberuflern, unseren Personalberatern und Drittparteien, wie Lohnunternehmen und Dachgesellschaften
Erläuterung der Best Practices für Arbeitszeittabellen und Fakturierungsprozesse gegenüber der Freiberufler
Zusammenarbeit mit unserer Finanzabteilung, hinsichtlich der Zahlungen an unsere Freiberufler
Unterstützung bei Bonitätsprüfungen, Mahnwesen etc.
Sicherstellung der Einhaltung und Umsetzung der Datenschutz- Grundverordnung (DSGVO)

Das bringst Du mit

Ausbildung zum Rechtsanwaltsfachangestellten (m/w/d) oder eine kaufmännische Ausbildung
Ausgezeichnete schriftliche und mündliche Kommunikationsfähigkeiten auf Deutsch und Englisch
Fähigkeit Beziehungen aufzubauen mit internen und externen Kunden
Genauigkeit und Liebe zum Detail
Du bist eine analytische und pro-aktive Person, die selbstständig arbeiten und Prioritäten setzen kann
Multi-Tasking und der Umgang mit einem vielfältigen Pool von Stakeholdern ist für Dich kein Problem
Herausragendes Zeitmanagement
Idealerweise vorherige Erfahrung im Bereich Vertragsmanagement, Finanzwesen, Compliance oder Auditing
Erfahrung in der Personalbranche wäre von Vorteil, ist aber nicht essentiell
Reisebereitschaft – 1 bis 2 Tage im Monat

Was wir bieten

Selbstständigkeit und die Freiheit Deine eigene Arbeit zu managen
Schönes Office in zentraler Lage mit modernster Einrichtung – Apple Produkten, verstellbare Tische, Tischtennis, Pool etc.
Internationales, freundliches Arbeitsumfeld mit großartigen Kollegen
Auf Dich warten spannende Karrieremöglichkeiten in einem wachsenden Unternehmen
Du erhältst ein attraktives, erfahrungsabhängiges Gehalt

We are Austin Fraser.
Austin Fraser ist eine etablierte, international tätige Personalberatung, die genau das tut, was sie tun soll: beraten. Unsere Kernkompetenz liegt in der Personalberatung und -vermittlung von Fach- und Führungskräften der Bereiche IT, Engineering und Pharma/ Lifesciences.
Unsere privat geführte Agentur wurde im Jahr 2007 in Reading, UK gegründet, wo sich auch heute unser Hauptsitz befindet. Unsere Niederlassung in München gründeten wir 2012, sie ist die Basis für weitere Expansionen in Europa. Weiteren deutschen Standorte gibt es in Berlin und Hamburg. Auch in Austin, Dallas & Denver, USA haben wir Niederlassungen.
Wir mögen ein junges Unternehmen sein, jedoch haben wir bereits einige angesehene Auszeichnungen verliehen bekommen. Beispielsweise sind wir mit dem Absolventa Trainee Award 2019 ausgezeichnet worden.
Join our team!
Bewirb Dich mit Deinem Lebenslauf per E-Mail bei Wendy Jordan: [email protected] und erhalte innerhalb von 5 Tagen eine Rückmeldung, ob wir Dich für den nächsten Prozessschritt berücksichtigen können!
Weitere Informationen erhältst Du auch gerne unter:
+49 89 27 37 380 62

Commercial & Legal Consultant (m/w/d), München

Die Rolle des Commercial & Legal Consultants (m/w/d) ist für den Schutz unseres Unternehmens von wesentlicher Bedeutung. Du wirst bei der Ermittlung und Validierung von wirtschaftlichen Risiken helfen und Du besprichst mit Interessenvertreter in der Firma wie und wo das Risiko minimiert werden kann. Du beurteilst auch die Eignung von Lieferbedingungen und potenziellen Kunden mit eigenen Geschäftsbedingungen. Der ideale Kandidat (m/w/d) hilft dem Unternehmen dabei, Verstößen gegen unsere Geschäftsbedingungen zu erkennen, die Position von Austin Fraser den relevanten Stakeholdern – intern und extern – zu präsentieren und wenn nötig setzt Du die relevanten rechtlichen Kanäle ein zur Unterstützung bei Streitfällen.
Deine Aufgaben

Vertragsmanagement für alle freiberuflichen Vermittlungen über unsere digitale Dokumentenplattform “DocuSign”
Durchführen von Compliance- und Arbeitserlaubnis-Prüfungen für alle freiberuflichen Mitarbeiter, die durch Austin Fraser vermittelt werden
Erstellung, Eingabe und Überprüfung der Verträge für Freiberufler
Verwaltung von Kündigungsbriefen und Änderungswünschen von Freiberuflern
Hauptansprechpartner für Freiberufler
Schnittstelle zwischen Freiberuflern, unseren Personalberatern und Drittparteien, wie Lohnunternehmen und Dachgesellschaften
Erläuterung der Best Practices für Arbeitszeittabellen und Fakturierungsprozesse gegenüber der Freiberufler
Zusammenarbeit mit unserer Finanzabteilung, hinsichtlich der Zahlungen an unsere Freiberufler
Unterstützung bei Bonitätsprüfungen, Mahnwesen etc.
Sicherstellung der Einhaltung und Umsetzung der Datenschutz- Grundverordnung (DSGVO)

Das bringst Du mit

Erfolgreich abgeschlossenes Studium in Rechtswissenschaften
Erfahrung im Bereich Vertragsmanagement oder als Paralegal
Erfahrung im Bereich Compliance
Herausragende Kenntnisse im deutschen Vertragsrecht
Ausgezeichnete schriftliche und mündliche Kommunikationsfähigkeiten auf Deutsch und Englisch
Du hast eine analytische, proaktive und selbstständige Arbeitsweise
Multi-Tasking und der Umgang mit vielfältigen Anfragen und Interessengruppen ist für Dich kein Problem
Herausragendes Zeitmanagement
Reisebereitschaft – 1 bis 2 Tage im Monat

Was wir bieten

Übertragung von Selbstständigkeit und Freiheit für Deine eigene Arbeit
Attraktives Büro in zentraler Lage mit modernster Einrichtung – Apple Produkte, verstellbare Tische, Tischtennis, Billard etc.
Internationales, freundliches Arbeitsumfeld mit großartigen Kollegen
Spannende Karrieremöglichkeiten in einem wachsenden Unternehmen
Ein attraktives, erfahrungsabhängiges Gehalt

We are Austin Fraser.
Austin Fraser ist eine etablierte, international tätige Personalberatung, die genau das tut, was sie tun soll: beraten. Unsere Kernkompetenz liegt in der Personalberatung und -vermittlung von Fach- und Führungskräften der Bereiche IT, Engineering und Pharma/ Lifesciences.
Unsere privat geführte Agentur wurde im Jahr 2007 in Reading, UK gegründet, wo sich auch heute unser Hauptsitz befindet. Unsere Niederlassung in München gründeten wir 2012, sie ist die Basis für weitere Expansionen in Europa. Weiteren deutschen Standorte gibt es in Berlin und Hamburg. Auch in Austin, Dallas & Denver, USA haben wir Niederlassungen.
Wir mögen ein junges Unternehmen sein, jedoch haben wir bereits einige angesehene Auszeichnungen verliehen bekommen. Beispielsweise sind wir mit dem Absolventa Trainee Award 2019 ausgezeichnet worden.
Join our team!
Bewirb Dich mit Deinem Lebenslauf per E-Mail bei Wendy Jordan: [email protected] und erhalte innerhalb von 5 Tagen eine Rückmeldung, ob wir Dich für den nächsten Prozessschritt berücksichtigen können!
Weitere Informationen erhältst Du auch gerne unter:
+49 89 27 37 380 62

Sales Trainer (m/w/d) im Bereich Learning & Development

Du befindest dich zur Zeit in einer Position als Recruiter, oder Personalberater (w/m/d) und überlegst deine Karriere in eine andere Richtung zu lenken? Du siehst deine berufliche Bestimmung darin, andere zu coachen und dein Wissen weiterzugeben? Dann bist Du bei uns genau richtig! Vom Standort Berlin wirst Du die Teams im Norden (Hamburg und Berlin) unterstützen. Bei den Eröffnungen weiterer Standorte spielst Du eine wichtige Rolle und motivierst unsere Sales-Mitarbeiter(m/w/d) zu Höchstleistungen.
Deine Aufgaben

Unterstützung und Motivation unserer Sales-Mitarbeiter (m/w/d) an allen Standorten im Norden (Berlin und Hamburg)
Regelmäßiges Durchführen von Inhouse Trainings im Rahmen des Austin Fraser “Sales Programs” für die Personalberater (m/w/d)
Bedarfsspezifisches On- und Off-Desk Coaching der Mitarbeiter (m/w/d), geplant und ad-hoc
Identifikation von Lernbedarf basierend auf Beobachtungen und der Analyse bestehender Daten
Erstellen von Trainingsinhalten und Entwicklungsprogrammen sowie deren theoretische und praktische Umsetzung
Recherche nach innovativen und spannenden Trainingsmethoden und -materialien, um bestehende Inhalte und Prozesse zu optimieren

Das bringst Du mit

Du hast praktische Erfahrung in der Personalberatung und weißt wie das Business funktioniert oder bringst Berufserfahrung als L&D Experte (m/w/d) im Vertriebsumfeld mit
Du bist ein positiver, proaktiver Mensch mit viel Eigenmotivation und dem Talent andere zu begeistern
Du bist in hohem Maße empathisch und kannst dich in Menschen hineinversetzen
Kommunikation ist eine deiner Stärken. Inhalte zu präsentieren und Wissen zu vermitteln gehört zu deinen Leidenschaften
Du verfügst über sehr gute Englisch- und Deutschkenntnisse in Wort und Schrift
Du stehst Aufenthalten in anderen norddeutschen Büros, sowie gelegentlichen Trips zu unserem Hauptsitz in Reading (UK) und München, offen gegenüber

Was wir bieten

Attraktives Büro in zentraler Lage mit modernster Einrichtung – Apple Produkte, verstellbare Tische, Billard etc.
Internationales, freundliches Arbeitsumfeld mit großartigen Kollegen
Spannende Karrieremöglichkeiten in einem wachsenden Unternehmen
Flexible Arbeitszeiten

We are Austin Fraser.
Austin Fraser ist eine etablierte, international tätige Personalberatung, die genau das tut, was sie tun soll: beraten. Unsere Kernkompetenz liegt in der Personalberatung und -vermittlung von Fach- und Führungskräften der Bereiche IT, Engineering und Pharma/ Lifesciences.
Unsere privat geführte Agentur wurde im Jahr 2007 in Reading, UK gegründet, wo sich auch heute unser Hauptsitz befindet. Unsere Niederlassung in München gründeten wir 2012, sie ist die Basis für weitere Expansionen in Europa. Weiteren deutschen Standorte gibt es in Berlin und Hamburg. Auch in Austin, Dallas & Denver, USA haben wir Niederlassungen.
Wir mögen ein junges Unternehmen sein, jedoch haben wir bereits einige angesehene Auszeichnungen verliehen bekommen. Beispielsweise sind wir mit dem Absolventa Trainee Award 2019 ausgezeichnet worden.
Join our team!
Bewirb Dich mit Deinem Lebenslauf per E-Mail bei Wendy Jordan: [email protected] und erhalte innerhalb von 5 Tagen eine Rückmeldung, ob wir Dich für den nächsten Prozessschritt berücksichtigen können!
Weitere Informationen erhältst Du auch gerne unter:
+49 89 27 37 380 62