Day at the office: First, if you have never been to Regensburg in the south of Germany, I implore you to put it on your travel list; the place is a delight and a UNESCO World Heritage site due to it being ‘the only authentically preserved large medieval city in Germany.’ IT Sicherheitsclusters team
Regensburg is where old meets new – a city known for its start-up culture but steeped in history. Its beautifully preserved old town spans the river Danube by a spectacular 12th-century stone bridge, a 310m-long icon with 16 arches. I arrived in the sunshine out to TechBase, to visit IT Sicherheitsclusters offices in the south of the city and was met by Matthias Kampmann, head of R&D and project manager of CISIS12, and Judith Strussenberg, marketing, PR, and memberships, where we met the boss Sandra Wiesbeck later in the office.
What’s the main focus of the company?
Judith: Networking is what we do most and best – we connect our members with each other and hold many events year-round.
Matthias: We are not a company but an NGO – we have around 140 members, mainly from Austria and Germany – we give courses and workshops.
Give me three words to describe what it is like to work here.
Matthias: Open atmosphere, trust, and friendship.
Sandra: Innovative, collaborative, and creative
What makes the team stand out?
Judith: It’s fun to work here.
Sandra: We have excellent team spirit.
What does a typical workday look like?
Judith: I’m not sure we can say there is a typical workday – we have two weekly team meetings.
Sometimes I start at 7 am, sometimes at 9 am – sometimes I try to go to the gym in the morning. And sometimes I work in the evening. I try not to work too much because I did that before – I’ve now reduced my working hours to 35 hours a week.Sandra Wiesbeck
Which meetings take the longest?
Matthias: Our strategy meetings that we have every quarter. They can take half a day or a day.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you are doing now?
Judith: I would be writing, maybe a journalist or explaining technical things through writing.
Sandra: Maybe if I were younger, I would go into medicine.
Matthias: If I could start again, I think I would be a guitar maker, violin, or wood instrument. Or I was a motorcycle racing superstar in the Moto GP.
How did the pandemic affect the team and work conditions?
Matthias: We switched completely from the office to working from home, but we were not very disgruntled about that as a team.
Sandra: Before the pandemic, maybe we would only work one day a week from home. It affected all our training; we had to do online courses and were unsure if people would like that.
There were many people asking questions about how they would make their home office safe and set out everything properly – we made some online events providing answers and telling people how to do it. It was a big and important topic at the time.Judith Strussenberg
Do you have any team bonding activities?
Judith: Each summer, we do something, and this year we will make a tour with alpacas.
Matthias: We have a daily activity which is a mixture of spare time and team building one day once a year, but the pandemic disrupted everything, I’ve been working here since October 2019, and I’ve never been on one.
How do you see the team growing in the next three years?
Sandra: It all comes down to funding. If we get funding, we will be growing the team.
Do you offer any special days to your employees?
Sandra: The staff has a half day off on their birthday and carnival.
Give a shout-out to a competitor.
Sandra: We don’t have competitors because we work very closely with the others in the market.
What has changed in the company since you started working here?
Judith: I joined in 2018, and the most significant shift is how we organized our work over the pandemic with working from home, but I think the topics are more or less the same.
Sandra: I’ve been here since 2007, and at that time, we were part of another cluster, and I had a boss, but in 2017 we became independent, so we had to change, rearrange our jobs, the business, and our responsibilities – and I became the boss.
I would say many things have changed since I joined – specifically, the new version of the CISIS12 Information Management System, which has embedded new processes.Matthias Kampmann
What were your expectations when you started here, and have you met them?
Judith: I didn’t only meet them. I exceeded them. I wanted to learn about IT security and data protection, and I have.
Matthias: Yes, I know what I’m doing here has relevance to the welfare of our society and our economy, but I didn’t expect how big a freedom we would have to be so creative – it’s overwhelming.
Do you prefer to work from home or the office?
Judith: I prefer to work from home, I concentrate better when it’s pretty around me, but I also like our regular team meetings.
Sandra: Same as Judith, I’m more focused when working at home but happy to do both.
Matthias: It doesn’t matter to me as long as my dog is by my side – I prefer not to lose time commuting to work.
How does your product change the world?
Matthias: If every company would make use of our core products, it could be that the situation regarding cyber incidents would be better, but everything depends on the humans who use it. If they do not default back to our principles of humanity, then our product is for the trash bin, I would say.
What is the most fun activity you have done with the company?
I like it when I see our members grow when they enter the cluster and come here as a small start-up for some help, and then we help them and see them grow, hire people and improve their products. That, for me, is great!Judith Strussenberg
Matthias: We don’t do fun activities, but we have a lot of fun at work.
Where’s the coolest place to hang out in the office?
Matthias: Outside of the office, when we go for a walk.
Judith: This building is an incubator, but maybe because of the pandemic, it doesn’t work that way. The communal hang-out areas are not used.