Get to know Tim, our Head of Data from Germany, who explains how creating impact and change became his purpose.
What is your purpose in life and at FREE NOW and what has it been impacted by?
I want to improve mobility for everyone! I know that sounds corny, however, this is truly my goal. I had been searching for a task where change and impact can be felt and that is exactly what I was able to find here. Growing up as a typical nerd, I was greatly impacted by science-fiction series, movies and comics that have not only caused my enormous interest in technology but have also promoted my visionary and futuristic way of thinking. It made me a big dreamer, who is very optimistic and passionate about making those dreams come true. Nothing in my life has impacted me as much as Star Trek. I watched my first episode in 1991 and from there on I was so hooked, I knew I was going to pursue a career in a futuristic field — whether it is tech or research.
Does your passion and purpose have an influence on your leadership?
My goal is to change the mindsets of people that haven’t realized yet the importance of data and convey what impact and change data can create on so many levels. And therefore, I want to lead my entire team properly, honestly, fairly and transparently — I want everyone in my department to enjoy working here and to be aware of the major impact and role each one of them has on everything that happens at FREE NOW and in the field of mobility in general. I do not do anything special at all, I just treat them in the way I want to be treated myself, and try to avoid, what I thought were mistakes, made by my previous bosses.
Offering trust and freedom, and letting them think outside the box gives you passionate and motivated employees in return.
I feel like I myself was hired as the expert who is fully trusted by his manager and the C-level because I enjoy full freedom and responsibility in my department. They listen to my opposing opinions and trust them and give me the freedom to precede my work with them. This is where I realized that being able to pursue your passion with external trust and support is not comparable to any other motivational factor.
Also, being such an optimistic dreamer and visionary myself, as a passionate leader, I see my purpose in passing on this attitude and futuristic vision to as many people as possible, which, in my opinion, allows me to make the world a better place.
What have you learned so far at FREE NOW?
I learned a lot about mobility, although I have always been a very active user of alternative mobility solutions other than privately owned cars. When I crashed my car, I never thought about purchasing a new one, but rather I immediately got involved with ride-hailing and car-sharing options. Also, I learned a lot about leadership. So far, my teams have been rather small, and I had hired the majority of them myself. Now, the team is almost ten times as big, but through a lot of listening as well as strong upward and downward coordination, everything seems to work out well. Because of such changes, I also attempted some overall alterations in my leadership role. For instance, abstaining as much as possible from Hands-On work myself, to make my team realize and understand that everything we establish is the result of their work only, and I am ‘merely’ serving as a facilitator. For that, I tried to receive as little admin rights as possible, don’t build dashboards and try to abstain from any databank and programming. I trust my team’s data and analyses. Nevertheless, in case something goes wrong I am very willing to take the blame, which, I learned, is a relevant task as a Head. You transmit all your team’s analyses and information upwards within, and outwards the company. If their work has a positive impact, I make sure this feedback reaches my team, and if their work caused negative impacts, I will ensure to protect them as much as possible. I basically serve as a filter.
What gives you strength when you get frustrated by work or life?
Mostly, when I get frustrated, I first talk to my girlfriend about it and after I like to distract or withdraw myself from this particular situation in order to free my head for a while. Spending time with friends and getting involved with my rather nerdy hobbies are both very helpful ways to deal with frustrating situations. Also, singing in the choir and simple moments in which I can get lost in the mass is what I am seeking for during such times. Sometimes, however, I am actively trying to counteract such situations by getting distracted through fun. Going out with friends and being the life of the party can be very helpful to get over frustrating situations easily.
What are the most important things in your life?
The most important thing in my life is my girlfriend. Having been with her for 20 years, I cannot imagine not waking up next to somebody with a great feeling of happiness. There is no one who has such an enormous influence on me. I perceive us as being her and me against the world, and I know that I would not be where and how I am if it was not for her. If I had more time I would love to spend more of it with her. In addition to her, my job is a very significant part of me. I do what I am passionate about and where I can create an impact. And in my position, I can spread this attitude and passion to my colleagues and employees.