Having worked at the Innovation Center in Potsdam for three years, Malte is one of our senior colleagues.
Before talking business, let’s hear about your personal background.
I am from Bonn, which is a city in Western Germany; I went to both school and to university there. After finishing my degree in Computer Science in 2007, I moved to Berlin and became a PhD student at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam. Since then, I have been living in Berlin.
Why did you decide to stay in Bonn to study Computer Science after finishing high school?
I was, like many other kids, interested in computers in general. I played a lot of games on my Atari, but never started programming or developing anything, so the decision to study Computer Science didn’t come as naturally. It was rather a rational decision. However, especially at the beginning of my studies, I had some doubts about whether the decision was right.
The burden for me was pretty great. The theoretical part of my studies and the whole entire tech world were new to me. But once you start developing and coding and have your first little program running, you get the feeling that you’ve just achieved something. Also coding is really creative. It is challenging your creativity, your intelligence, and your way of logical thinking. Later on I found the domain of software engineering, which broadens the dimensions you are working in as a Computer Scientist by a pretty important one: people.
Is that something you like about your job—the people aspect?
I like to have people involved in the development process. The exciting part is that persons are not as predictable as machines. They give you a huge range of different feedback when you ask them for their opinion about a new idea or development. The customer and your colleagues become more important than the programming itself. That is what challenges and excites me.
Sounds like you enjoy your job. Does your work sometimes follow you home?
Unlike in other jobs, I don’t have a typical office and daily life. I am influenced by both during the day. On one hand, the scientific toolset of logical thinking, and on the other hand, the ability to communicate with so many different people from around the world. I benefit from my “office-time” once I am away from the desk and the other way around.
You said that you are still benefiting from your scientific career. How long did it last and why did you choose to leave the academic world to work at the Innovation Center?
I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with others when I was teaching. And being a member of the faculty also allowed me to broaden my personal skillset. But at some point I wanted to combine the work as a researcher with new challenges, challenges that yield a specific result in the end—that was when then I decided to apply for the Innovation Center in Potsdam.
So do you think future applicants at the Innovation Center Network should take into consideration that amount of freedom?
You should be familiar, or at least you should be really open to, working in an environment where not all requirements are clear, where you have to fill some gaps and where you also have to live with uncertainty at some points. You have to find out strategies on your own and in your team. You should be comfortable with this experimental type of work environment.
What is so experimental? Can you give me an example from a current project?
One of our main projects is in the area of future corporate management. We try to develop applications for employees in large organizations to ease their daily life and work as we put the assets of a company into one structure. My colleagues and I are free in our way of thinking and in our style of work. The Innovation Center offers us the best conditions to be productive and to take a breath when you need it.