A Sweet Transition: Denis’s journey from pâtissier to tech leader

A Sweet Transition: Denis’s journey from pâtissier to tech leader

After a diverse culinary journey across Europe, Denis transitioned from a seasoned pâtissier to a budding junior developer at SKIDATA. He now spearheads a vibrant, agile team pioneering mobile access solutions in the skiing industry.

Denis grew up in Ludwigshafen, a city on the Rhine in western Germany. But when he moved to Styria in southeastern Austria at the age of 16, he was clear that he wanted to live near mountains. By contrast, his career aspirations were less defined, beginning with a foray into catering, where he honed his skills as a chef and waiter before delving into the delicate art of cakes and pastries. Denis sharpened his culinary expertise in several Michelin-starred restaurants before veering towards an unexpected path.

Driven by a newfound interest, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in software development, emerging in 2021 as a qualified business software developer. This pivot was fuelled by Denis’s desire to impact a broader audience, a goal he began nurturing through his focus on mobile solutions during his academic journey.


Mastering the steep learning curve at SKIDATA


In 2021, Denis joined SKIDATA as a junior developer. It didn’t take him long to find his feet, and by 2023 he found himself assuming the technical management of Mobile Flow, SKIDATA’s access system. As senior software engineer and tech lead for Mobile Flow, Denis drives the evolution of this smartphone-based system. While primarily concentrating on the iOS app, he also plays a key role in backend development, the Android iteration, and refining end-to-end testing processes.

 

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The vision behind Mobile Flow: Leave your smartphone in your pocket

 

Mobile Flow, SKIDATA’s innovative contactless ski lift access system, streamlines the skiing experience. Skiers can effortlessly purchase tickets on their smartphones and proceed directly to the lifts, bypassing ticket queues and the hassle of QR codes. “The goal is to have the app running in the background while you keep your mobile phone in your pocket,” Denis clarifies.

Testing of Mobile Flow began six years ago. After three years, the team unveiled the initial version, which subsequently underwent two additional development phases to tailor the hardware for both Android and iOS platforms. In April 2023, SKIDATA presented the system at the Interalpin trade show in Innsbruck. With the winter season now fast approaching, Denis and his team are eagerly anticipating Mobile Flow’s deployment in real-world settings.

 

A team of innovators: Agile, dynamic and creative

 

What Denis particularly likes about SKIDATA is the team structure. The Mobile Flow core team, comprising five or six members, collaborates extensively across different departments. “We’re an agile, dynamic team. We have the autonomy to shape our work environment, from selecting our equipment to designing our office space and choosing our hardware,” says Denis. This autonomy extends to restructuring the team as needed, a flexibility that Denis values highly: “I don’t want to be doing the same thing for the rest of my life. It’s vital for me to keep developing.” And he adds: “This unpredictable aspect of our work keeps every day exciting and challenging. With a diary only half-filled, I’m afforded ample freedom.”

Working frequently in ski resorts, the team engages in regular dialogue with clients and associates, enhancing the speed and efficiency of their work. Denis is particularly proud of the team’s collaborative spirit: “Whether it’s working on Android or iOS, firmware, tackling backend issues, or exploring machine learning, it’s the synergy of our diverse skills that adds real value.”

 

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Embracing the great outdoors and healthy living

 

Outside the office, Denis’s passion for sports and nature finds a perfect backdrop in Salzburg. He indulges in running, cycling, climbing, and CrossFit, embracing the outdoor lifestyle that the region offers. Last summer, he took part in the Charity Challenge, and encouraged his colleagues to clock up plenty of kilometres. He also entered the Salzburg Business Run. And sometimes Denis meets up with his colleagues before work at half past four in the morning to climb the Untersberg – a table-top mountain on the border between Germany and Austria.

 

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Holding on to his roots as a pâtissier, Denis enjoys spending his weekends baking cakes and petits fours – small French tartlets. His wife, who left the hospitality industry at the same time as Denis, complements his sweet creations with savoury delicacies. She now works in IT security. Mind you, Denis takes care not to snack too much, noting: “Nutrition is crucial to health and well-being. Poor eating habits directly impact both my physical and mental state.”

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