Promises Kept: a Story of Trust and Integrity
Tobias Rudolphi, Regional Director Hamburg & Partner at Zühlke Group, looks back on his time and career at Zühlke. From his expectations and first promises made to him by his new employer to his daily work and life at Zühlke: Here's what he has to say.
As I was looking for a new challenge at the beginning of 2008, after 9 years of development work at a startup in the finance industry (today this would probably be known as FinTech), I only had two requirements to begin with:
- After 9 years of product development for the banking and insurance industry, it was important for me to find a position where I would not be defined by an industry, technology or role. That’s why I targeted my search towards engineering service providers.
- The culture of my startup had a lasting impact on me. The integrity, trust, creativity, entrepreneurial thinking and most importantly working together in this environment as part of a team of highly motivated technology enthusiasts was something I also looked for in my new position.
“It’s a great company!”
I quickly realised that it’s not so easy to find a job that meets both of these requirements. After an array of frustrating experiences with companies both large and small, I finally became aware of Zühlke. At the time, Zühlke was still relatively unknown, with 60 employees at three different offices in Germany. It was definitely not a name I had heard of. Speaking to good friends in Switzerland – where Zühlke was founded in 1968 – resulted in them urging me to get in touch with Zühlke: “It’s a great company!”
For me, the first direct contact with Zühlke in the form of a telephone interview was the beginning of a journey that has been going on for 9 years now and is sure to continue for some time yet. From the very first chat, I felt like I was taken seriously as a person and as an engineer with entrepreneurial spirit and integrity. All of the interviews were constructive discussions amongst specialists, who didn’t just quiz me about my knowledge, but rather focused on my experiences, expectations and ideas. Everyone I got to know over the course of the application process conveyed an image of Zühlke that came very close to my requirements with regards to culture and role. This impression made it easy for me to then accept the offer to start as a software engineer at Zühlke in Eschborn at the end of 2008.
Building trust and confidence through collaboration
I used the first few years to gather experience in various projects, roles and industries, to get to know the team and for my own personal development with the support of the training package offered by Zühlke. Everything exceeded my expectations. I found an open-minded environment where I can learn something from every single colleague and in which my own expertise is trusted and valued. I have also found the organisation to be both dynamic and of integrity. It is based on a stable foundation of shared values with a clear vision and mission, which also allows for and tolerates local “subcultures”. My time has included working on projects which have challenged me in a positive way and have enabled me to expand my knowledge and think outside the box.
Looking intensively at the history and values of Zühlke, talks with long-term colleagues and the management team and increased involvement in our change and learning processes then led me to the conclusion that I wanted to take on more responsibility and develop a long-term perspective for myself at Zühlke. The opening of our office in Hamburg in 2012 presented the opportunity to merge my personal and professional interests in the most beautiful city in the world. As part of my position as software architect and consultant, I was prepared for my new role as team leader at the office through our Management Development Program.
Integrate with integrity: The merits of a good team
Since autumn 2014, I have been responsible for building and expanding the team in Hamburg, personal development of colleagues in the team and for putting together project teams for our clients in northern Germany. Even though I am not part of client projects very often, I find it an exciting and challenging task where I learn something new every day and where I am able to actively help shape the development of our company.
In retrospect, our own experiences tend to become transfigured, and when reading through all the words above, I have to admit that my story sounds like a one-off success story without any ifs or buts, and thus doesn’t sound very believable. I also don’t want to hide the fact that there have also been moments during my time at Zühlke that weren’t perfect: Difficult situations in client projects, conflicts within the team and personal lows never led to me questioning my trust in Zühlke. Honest and direct feedback, constructive discussions about errors and critique, flat hierarchies, emphasis on personal development, and patience and humility in dealing with one another always helped me to see value even at difficult times.
To put it briefly, the promises made to me about the company culture at Zühlke when I started have been kept, and I am extremely happy to be in a position today where I am able to wholeheartedly pass on these promises and put my trust in new colleagues and integrate them into our team.