“We are a small, highly-agile and interdisciplinary team”

A 9-to-5 job was out of the question for Thomas. At SKIDATA, the trained software developer has the chance to manage a start-up within the company.

One thing that Thomas appreciate about SKIDATA from the start? “People who work here want to move things forward, and set goals, then achieve them,” says the Senior Manager. “I can work independently, try new things out and get support from my superiors.” As challenges only spur him on, Thomas is always taking on new projects at SKIDATA—and also abroad. A basic 9-to-5 job would out of the question for Thomas.

Thomas comes from Sankt Lorenzen im Mürztal, and he went to school in Graz, where he studied software development and science at the Technical University. As a student, he began to work as a freelance software developer. He made an agreement with his wife, and said that after graduation, they would move together wherever one of them found a job first. As Thomas found a position as a software developer in Salzburg, the pair moved there in the middle of 2009. Thomas’ wife started at SKIDATA immediately—and that’s how he got to know the company.

After so many years in software development, Thomas wanted a change, and took the option to join SKIDATA in 2011 as an IT Infrastructure Engineer in the hosting department. At the time, SKIDATA had around 500 employees. “Everyone knew everyone,” Thomas remembers. “I enjoyed the flair of a big family. At the same time, SKIDATA was already a big international company—that appealed to me as well.”

A period of strong growth followed at SKIDATA, which opened up new opportunities for employees like Thomas—including the opportunity for the company to go abroad. “My wife and I had always dreamed about working abroad,” says Thomas. Thomas took on his first management position as Team Leader in the Car Access department in 2014. Around three years later, the time had come: The two of them moved to the Portland, Oregon in the USA. There Thomas took over the software house that he led until the middle of 2020. “I could work here independently, and was given freedom but also the support and trust of my boss,” Thomas explains. “That is something special.”

Then, he jumped at the chance to take over a new product line. sPark/essential is an innovation project—a kind of start-up within the company. “We are a small, highly-agile and interdisciplinary team of software and hardware developers and project managers,” Thomas explains. “The idea behind sPark is to offer our customers–initially in Asia and Latin America–a solid and easy-to-use parking system that focuses on the essentials.” With that, Thomas returned to Salzburg with his wife.

Thomas’s task as the leader of the new team is to drive the development forward, and to bring sPark to market maturity. In the morning, he checks in with colleagues in Asia; in the evening, with those in Latin America. “I also take care of product strategy, market positioning, and also marketing materials, websites and brochures,” he says. Currently, his team works remotely, and Thomas has three to five web conferences on some days. “We want sPark to be successful, and for it to make an impact.”

The pandemic not only change Thomas’ way of working—he found a new hobby as well. In Portland, he found inspiration in the more than 100 craft beer breweries, and now brews beer in his cellar with American recipes. “I started with a 30-liter cooking pot and a 23-liter fermentation tank called a fermenter. Now I’m already on fermenter number two,” Thomas explains. Yet he still has a problem with supplies: “I primarily brew mostly to please others, and the beer comes out really well. However, my friends and acquaintances can drink it far faster than I can brew it.” Thomas brews in the evening or over the weekend, with a production of around 80 half-liter a month. Over Christmas he was gifted an electronic brewing system. “With the new brewing system, you can mash, purify and cook with the same unit.” Next, he’s building a kegerator—a refrigerator with a tap system. “I’m looking forward to the next street party on the estate. By then, I can put out the kegerator and tap my own beers for the neighbors.” One of his neighbors has already caught onto the hobby, and brews beer in his basement as well. “The nice thing about brewing is that you can start with relatively little money, you can do it after work or on the weekends, and it’s a vast field where you can learn and–more importantly–be creative.”