As part of the About OTRS section, we would like to introduce our board members and general managers to you in a slightly different way.
We can well imagine what they do in the office every day and how they achieve their goals for OTRS. But what drives them in the background? How did they come to what they do? And what do they want for the future?
In our interview series, we asked board members and general managers what we’ve always wanted to know. The answers will make you think and smile.
Let´s get started with the first interview with our CEO André Mindermann:
How did you become CEO of OTRS Group?
Well, certainly not in the way one generally imagines it, as a classic career step after many years of consistent “promotion work”. When OTRS first started, I initially acted more from the background and was virtually merely in the role of the sponsor. But already after a short time I could see the strength with which a successful momentum of its own unfolded and decided to give the whole thing even more “spin” with my full commitment. And then, at some point, there was the logical consequence of taking over as Chairman of the Board.
What were the biggest challenges and key learning for you?
The biggest challenge was certainly to change the focus and thus change the company: from a small ambitious start-up that is self-sufficient and feeds on development work to a professional organization that wants to offer its employees a long-term professional home and is still supported by the enthusiasm, motivation and inspiration of the early days.
I gained a very important insight from Peter Drucker’s quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”: Corporate culture is the foundation on which a strategy can develop effectively. Strategy without the corresponding “cultural background” remains an abstract example of calculation.
What was your greatest childhood wish?
I wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid. Not only flying itself, but also the distant countries and cultures appealed to me. It didn’t work out with the pilot at Lufthansa, and that certainly has its justification; because in my professional career I was able to use exactly those skills that are hardly useful for a pilot. The fun of going on a voyage of discovery and experiencing foreign countries, cultures and customs up close has remained, however, and through my many professional journeys I also have some opportunity to do so. So my childhood dream has come true. 🙂
You spend a lot of time with philosophy and attend seminars at Goethe University in Frankfurt. What are you particularly interested in?
We train our body with a lot of ambition and sweat to keep it fit and flexible. The same applies to the brain. In philosophy, I have found the sport for my brain that I practice with great pleasure. And I can say: Philosophy can be for the brain like the Ironman for the body and has made me sweat a lot of times.
But there is another aspect that I don’t want to neglect: the way of thinking in philosophy always opens up new perspectives on many topics that I have to deal with, and at the same time a gain of knowledge that I like to incorporate into my entrepreneurial decisions.
So I think about how I can transform today's company in the positive sense into a state that is not yet probable or imaginable today.
What makes a successful “leader” from your point of view?
A lot is written about leadership and what makes a successful leader. I have my own opinion. It is important to me to unite two points of view: the big picture and an eye for the individual. What I’m trying to say is: It is my responsibility to keep an eye on the “big picture” with a view to the future. So I think about how I can transform today’s company in the positive sense into a state that is not yet probable or imaginable today. In doing so, I always make it my task to remain understandable, accessible and reachable for the individual employee. The policy of open doors is beautiful. However, I would like my employees to go through this door in order to exchange ideas with me.
OTRS offers its employees flexible working hours. What is the perfect working time model for you?
I’ve always been bothered about the word “working time.” There is only the one time we live. Why separate them into “working time” and “free time”? I would like to feel free in the organization of my time and the greatest possible benefit, be it success, new knowledge or joy from it, whether at a professional project or a meeting with friends. So it’s more about a “lifetime model” with a maximum degree of freedom. What we understand by “freedom” is decided by each individual.
You travel the world a lot – professionally and privately. What was your most extraordinary holiday?
A completely crazy trip: To New York for Christmas shopping, from there to Vancouver/Whistler over Christmas for skiing and from there to Maui for a beach holiday over New Year’s Eve. The things that went wrong are still suitable for a laugh at any party today.
Do you believe in role models? If so, do you have one and who is it?
I have no role models, they all boil only with water. However, those people are an inspiration to me who stand up for living beings in need, who pick up garbage even if it’s not their own, and who don’t insist on their right, and especially those who go through life benevolently.