16 June 2021
What was your big career break?
The most significant milestone in my career to date was founding EMnify, together with Frank Stoecker and Martin Giess. When I think back to that decision, we didn’t even consider it a decision – we were compelled to start the company based on what we had collectively seen in our telecom’s careers so far. We recognized early that connectivity would have to become a cloud-native resource. So, we set out to ensure that it did, completely disrupting the telecoms market.
Who was your hero when you were growing up?
I always looked up to my dad and continue to, today. He’s not at all into computers and technology! He is a true craftsman – he skillfully and thoughtfully applies his mind and his hands to every project or task – whether creating something from scratch, improving it, repairing it, however big or small. We have even built houses together. I really admire his focus, diligence and commitment to his craft – he gives it everything but still manages to be there for his family.
If you had to work in a different industry, which would it be?
This is tricky. I honestly haven’t ever given it much thought. I know I’m right where I should be. But if I had to choose… On a personal level, I’m a car fan and so I do take an interest in the automotive industry. But on a professional level, I need quick feedback loops, fast growth, disruption – visible positive change every day! I think I’m too impatient to work in the automotive industry.
What would you do with £1m?
Invest it in EMnify! We recently celebrated our 7th anniversary. It’s incredible what we’ve done in that time: completely transform a complex cellular connectivity into an easy to consume cloud offering, build the largest GSM footprint that a non-MNO company ever built - covering 185 countries with 350+ direct roaming agreements (and still growing). Just last week, we launched LTE-M service in 45 countries.
We’ve grown the team to 112 global IoT experts who serve almost 2000 customers – enabling groundbreaking IoT solutions worldwide. And, we have only just begun! But you never know what opportunities the ecosystem of tomorrow will bring – so it always helps to be ready to jump on them.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It’s a mixture of things but it all comes down to taking a breath before reacting – to anything, in work or in life. Yes, we all want to make decisions quickly. But every decision should be given the time and consideration it needs. Don’t send that reactive e-mail at the end of the day, if you don’t have to – sleep on it. Always sleep on it. We are at our best when we are calm and have given things due consideration. People will appreciate a considered response more than a rushed one.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I love travelling and have been very fortunate to be able to travel a lot in my life – in Africa and Asia, for example. I have a huge appreciation for southeast Asia. I love Hong Kong: the vibrancy and energy and people! But when it comes to living in a place – ideally it should be calm, quiet, safe since I’m not just thinking of myself but of my family. That said – being close to an airport is always a bonus!
What’s the best thing about your job and industry?
The global aspect of what we do and the interaction with customers and suppliers on a truly global scale - different cultures and languages come with different expectations and interactions. It can be challenging, at times, but most of the time it’s incredibly enriching. A very concrete example to bring to life what I mean: EMnify’s first customer was in Australia. A German start-up with its first customer in Australia? We didn’t know borders from day one.
What will you do when you retire?
I have no idea. I don’t give it much thought. I think if you’re thinking a lot about retirement at my age then you’re longing for an escape, but I can happily confirm this isn’t the case!
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
It’s no secret that starting a company brings with it many pressures – both inside and outside of the actual job. There are two important lessons I learned the hard way in the early days of EMnify’s founding – 1) learn to say no, and 2) you can’t please everyone. As much as you want to make a decision that guarantees the best outcome for everyone involved – this is hardly ever possible. Trying to please everyone usually ends up upsetting everyone!