We talked to André Mindermann of OTRS Group about the service management software, and the following is what he had to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
André Mindermann: Thanks a lot. Luckily, we are doing good, and no one in my family has been affected by this virus so far. But, I have the impression that Covid-19 is coming closer, so it´s important to be careful and make the right decisions for yourself and the others around you. We are trying to balance between taking care of others and ourselves.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded OTRS.
André Mindermann: Right after receiving my university degree (I hold an MBA in economics), I founded my first tech-related company, followed by 4 others before I started with OTRS. I incorporated the company in October 2003. I am serving as CEO since 2007. In January 2009, I guided OTRS AG through its successful flotation on the Frankfurt stock exchange in December 2009.
How does OTRS innovate?
André Mindermann: The Management board of the OTRS Group consists of innovative thinking personalities. Everyone with a different focus on the further development of the group. This creates an atmosphere where everyone likes to contribute. With all these people thinking and creating new ideas, we can grow the innovative spirit of OTRS. Technically we have a dedicated channel where employees submit their ideas, which I appreciate; every idea is evaluated. We also encourage our employees to join training and workshops on this topic, e.g., one of our employees did a whole training on becoming an innovation manager which is of high value for the company. If you don´t stay innovative as a company, your competitors will surpass you.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
André Mindermann: Ever since we started, we developed a software solution which was highly demanded by the different markets. But today, OTRS can help people to stay tremendously efficient while working from home because our solution structures processes and communication, which helps even more during the pandemic and its restrictions. This means that our business is still growing. We even launched a new product in March this year. However, the Corona crisis, of course, also changes our whole way of working together. A lot of employees, especially those with children, face critical challenges regarding their work-life balance. Ethical integrity was always the basis for my way of leadership, and now is the time that it pays off. It is highly appreciated by employees that their well-being, safety, and needs are the most important aspects of making decisions.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
André Mindermann: I had to make choices, and yes, at times they were difficult because sometimes this means to face a risky decision. I have been guided by my most important goal, to offer security. Since my principles are guided by ethical integrity, it was clear that decisions cannot be made at the expense of others. Furthermore, there must be a dialectic connection between profit and the needs of employees. So, even before the Corona crisis started, we had established a working environment that serves both. E.g., our employees could decide themselves where they wanted to work. This way, we already had established the tools and remote working culture. However, this is never a substitute for a personal encounter. What is missing is having a common coffee break to hear how somebody is doing. You have to make sure that you find an adequate virtual alternative to make sure you don´t lose somebody “mentally.”
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and OTRS in the future?
André Mindermann: I have discovered that anxiety is an important part of being successful. Confronting your fears makes you strong, especially when you start asking for support and help. I am happy to have a team that permanently supports me, which gives me a lot of strength and stability. This is an essential part of focusing on the needs of our people and giving them the freedom to develop themselves. This is something that I want to nurture in the future. I permanently want to improve our product and our work environment so that we establish a safe and ethical workplace for diverse employees.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
André Mindermann: Some of our competitors are Service Now, Cherwell and Freshdesk. Actually, we have a lot of companies who compete with us, but we do not have the ONE competitor since we have several USPs (unique selling points). OTRS is a service management solution, so it fits all industries, is very flexible, easy to implement, easy for agents to use, and gives the customers a great personalized user experience.
Your final thoughts?
André Mindermann: In our profit-driven world of work, we still tend to forget what is really important: Human beings, our employees, coworkers, and colleagues! My goal is to create an ethical work environment where THEY count, every single one, independent from the position, age, gender, and background, where they can feel safe and unfold their full potential.
I am aiming to build a global company that intentionally focuses on the needs of our people so that they have the freedom to excel – with their families, at work, and as individuals. An environment that treats each and every person with respect and humanity because I strongly believe that this approach leads to long-lasting success only. I wish that more business leaders would follow this vision, and I invite you to visit my LinkedIn page to get in touch for further exchange.
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