Meet Sönke | Digital Consultant
“Lone wolves don’t get as far as a well-functioning team”
There are many different people working at diconium, with a wide range of skills. Today we talk to Sönke Iwers, who is a Digital Consultant in Hamburg and has been with diconium since the end of 2018. In the following interview, he will tell you about the diversity of his role, how important teamwork is, and how he takes customers on a journey into the digital future.
Wanna get to know all the other diconium digital champions? Just follow up on our stories here 💜
To start with, tell us what a normal working day looks like for you.
I couldn’t describe a normal working day that stays the same throughout the year. Since I’m always working on different projects, that also determines the structure of my days.
Currently, I’m working on a Volkswagen project as a System Engineer, which is similar to the role of a proxy product owner focused on the technical part. I structure the work on this software project, do requirements management, drive strategic issues, and mediate between clients and developers.
What is the most important skill you need in your job?
Oh, it’s hard to reduce that to just one skill. I’d say adaptability is a top skill, because you have to deal with a lot of different projects and stakeholders. You’re constantly getting involved in new things. From a technical point of view, you should be familiar with current technologies and strategy.
You need to have knowledge of IT and software processes to support the customer in the technical development. This role is very diverse in our company: Some of my colleagues studied journalism or art history, while I studied business informatics and e-commerce. A central question for our role is: How can we help the customer with digitization while combining software and strategy at the same time?
“A CENTRAL QUESTION FOR OUR ROLE IS: HOW CAN WE HELP THE CUSTOMER WITH DIGITIZATION WHILE COMBINING SOFTWARE AND STRATEGY AT THE SAME TIME?”
Is there a project that was particularly exciting for you and that still stands out?
Yes, a very cool project, namely the development of a WhatsApp chatbot: modern technology, realized by a small team with only three developers and one test engineer in super-fast execution-mode. The idea for this came up during a joint innovation day with our client. It was a great project to build a new product and shape the chatbot to be ready as quickly as possible for the customer. The team worked from different cities and got a great team spirit over the course of this project.
When you successfully complete a project with your team, how do you celebrate such a milestone?
As I said, I work a lot in changing teams, so it varies a lot. Before COVID-19, we would have celebrated on site and choose a team event together, of course. At the moment we are organizing our first real celebration with a small group again — adding some social action and interaction is a great way of getting even closer in the team. Of course a great dinner is part of our upcoming small go-live party.
Also during the project, I try to keep the mood high. For this, I use my mediocre UX/UI-skills to make stickers for the whole team.
What’s on them?
Oh, logos/graphics and memes. In one of the last projects, with the colleagues from Portugal, we used to greet each other in the morning with “Bom dia” or “Moin”, depending on whether we were from Lisbon or Hamburg. That’s why I had BOM MOIN stickers printed in our company colors and sent them to the whole team. I think it’s fun and strengthens identification with the project. Don’t tell anyone: I designed them with PowerPoint.
“DURING THE PROJECT, I TRY TO KEEP THE MOOD HIGH. FOR THIS, I USE MY MEDIOCRE UX/UI-SKILLS TO MAKE STICKERS FOR THE WHOLE TEAM.”
When you want to do some really focused work, i.e. you don’t want to be disturbed for two hours — how do you do that?
Usually, I do it at off-peak times, so in the morning or after 5pm. I try to block out those times in my calendar and set Microsoft Teams to “in focus.” I also use Cortana and let it suggest to me what times I should block out, for learning or focus time. This way I’ll have no interruptions and can purely focus on my work.
In the diconium universe, there is the term digital champion. What is your definition of it?
For me, a digital champion is a company that has understood how digitalization affects its own business. That dares to change something and then goes through with it using digital technologies. A company that transforms itself at an early stage and takes its employees with it along the way.
Is it your role to support this process as well?
Exactly. It starts at the beginning of the project preparation with questions such as: Does the client have all necessary processes in place? Are the needed positions already staffed? Are the right people available for the project? And how can we help them understand how to work digitally?
Sometimes we support companies that are not very digitalized yet. Then we first must lay the base to take the employees along on the journey. We try to fill the gap between strategy and software as a product.
“I WOULD ADVISE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF YOUR OWN TEAM TO LEARN ABOUT OTHER PROJECTS AND GET INSPIRED BY NEW TOPICS.”
You’ve also written a few white papers for diconium. Is there a trend in the tech and digital scene right now that you find particularly exciting?
There are many trends that I find exciting! The most exciting trend right now? I find augmented reality (AR) very exciting. I also find digitalization in terms of automotive interesting, especially the interaction with the user in mobility.
Now a simple question: Why are you at diconium?
I was actually approached by diconium — actively sourced, so to speak — but was already looking for an employer that could offer me a diverse role, somewhere between strategy and implementation. In my former company, I was especially missing the latter.
At diconium, there is a broad range of tasks for digital consultants. That and the empathetic communication in the application process convinced me to join 3 years ago.
What advice would you give to someone new to diconium?
If there wasn’t a pandemic, I would say: be at the summer and Christmas parties! Beyond that, take advantage of opportunities to build your own internal network. The colleagues here are very open, willing to share knowledge, give feedback and eager to help. We have a great office here in Hamburg with the diverse team, from consultants to scrum masters and data engineers that makes working a charm. You can get a lot of insights into other areas. I would advise to get in touch with people outside of your own team to learn about other projects and get inspired by new topics.
Last question — we’re almost there. Which of the four diconium values do you feel most connected to?
I like all values but feel most connected to collaboration. For me, that’s what it all comes down to. The best results are always achieved through collaboration. I don’t think lone wolves get as far as a well-functioning team. You need transparency and openness to make it work, though.