From practising Japanese in Salzburg to working in Tokyo
Christian found the ideal workplace. At SKIDATA, he can champion his creativity in software development without missing out on his passion for music.
Math and music have more in common than most people realize. For Christian, anyway, his mathematical and musical talents have played an important role in his life: He found his job, his hobby and even his wife through them. Christian is Manager Software Development Car Access at SKIDATA, where he is responsible for the further development of software products related to parking management. Christian and his team are also in charge of developing the new e-charging stations from SKIDATA.
While other providers still update their parking machines manually – a time- and personnel-intensive process – Christian’s team is in the pilot phase of testing automatic software updates. “This way we can speed up updates and make them more efficient, of course,” says Christian. Customers can also expect holistic solutions for their parking facilities from SKIDATA — including charging stations for electric cars.
The first version of the Ampere. Gate is already on the market. The charging station is integrated into SKIDATA’s parking solutions, which allows customers to connect their cars to the charging station with ease and pay to top up with their parking ticket. “Parking lot owners can both make a more attractive offer, as well as add an additional revenue source without having to commit to a charging station provider,” explains Christian. Right now, he’s working with his team to ensure that the EV charging stations not only connect to the system through generic interfaces but also integrate into the system completely.
The fact that the e-charging station is now a part of SKIDATA’s portfolio can be traced back to one of Christian’s colleagues. Gerhard, Head of Marketing and Sales, put forth his idea during an internal idea platform. “Gerhard had the idea, I implemented it,” says Christian, and now the idea is a product that Gerhard can market. For 5 years, SKIDATA employees have been able to develop their innovative ideas into prototypes for future products over three days at the annual Hackathon.
Colleagues who support each other are no exception at SKIDATA, but rather the rule. “There are no unfriendly people here,” says Christian. “Everyone is very familiar and also very flexible.” Flexibility and a good tone are especially important to Christian — sound is central to his life. When he’s not at work, Christian sings in the Salzburger Landestheater’s chorus. “Other people exercise or run in the mountains; I go on stage,” he says. For him, singing is more than a hobby — it’s a side hustle that he had SKIDATA approve. “The job comes first — that’s clear to everyone in the choir,” he says, but thanks to SKIDATA’s trust-based working hours, “the job and choir go hand-in-hand”.
Growing up north of Salzburg in Henndorf am Wallersee, Christian wanted to become a musician. He played the viola and attended a musical high school in Salzburg, but he was struck by what he calls his first stroke of fate. “At 16, I broke my finger playing basketball,” he explains. “Then it was clear that I wouldn’t make any money as a musician.” His backup plan: “I was always good at math and science, and had studied informatics in Salzburg and at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.”
While working on his master’s degree, Christian started his career path at Sony DADC, where he developed software for copy protection on DVDs. He rose from Junior Software Engineer to Lead Developer, but knew that something else had to be done. At SKIDATA, he found the change that he was looking for. “We always work with a variety of technologies and continue to develop our products,” he says. “The work is creative and varied.”
At 37 years old, Christian now leads a team of 13 people. “SKIDATA has given me an incredible opportunity,” he says. “It’s not possible to change from the technology track to a management role at every company.” Elsewhere, for example, a software developer might become an expert, but not a manager. He feels well-equipped for the role: “I have received excellent training at SKIDATA on how to lead successfully.” He’s not a boss who works from a top-down perspective, Christian says of his management style. He puts a greater emphasis on teamwork instead: “I give my people enough freedom to be creative,” just as he does himself, both in the office and on stage.
His favorite opera, by the way, is Carmen, and it’s where he met his wife in 2015: She sang Carmen, and he was in the choir. “That’s when fate struck again,” he says.