Interview with Karl-Ernst Kiel

You have worked for several companies in the past. Why did you opt for steute?

Before I moved to steute, I worked for agencies programming websites and apps. Because steute was an agency customer, I was able to gain an insight into the company during my project work. The positive atmosphere and friendliness were noticeable straightaway, both among the colleagues and towards external service providers.
Work at an agency is very varied and provides insights into many different branches of industry. However, limited project durations and a high number of customers to manage simultaneously often make it impossible to stay with a product or project sustainably and in the long term. This led to a desire to leave the agency world and move to a company which develops and sells its own products.
My first choice was steute because I already knew the company and several people who worked there, plus it was close to my home. Its dynamically changing development department also had many areas of technical interest to me.

One of your main tasks is the further development of "nexy" software. You also manage a team of software developers. What are your tasks, and what do you particularly like about your work?

Although the "nexy" software is only one segment of the software currently being developed by the steute R&D department, it is still very wide-ranging: from the Linux operating system for our gateways, to the full-stack development in TypeScript, to SAP interfaces and industrial protocols. Plus the whole area of automated build and deployment, as well as virtualisation.
It is my task to turn product requirements from customers, sales and product management into concrete projects and tasks for our developers. It is also my job to plan these projects, to track and report their progress, evaluate their results and then document them. Some projects are coordinated and handled by my colleagues, and some project parts are outsourced to external programmers.
But my tasks always revolve around the "nexy" universe. My desire to work on a product or field for the duration, i.e. over several years, has therefore been fulfilled. Nevertheless, the wide variety of topics and high number of individual projects do force me to be agile and dart around at a high level. I can create concepts, find problems and name them. But solving these problems and implementing the concepts requires phases of intense concentration on a single area, and for that I rarely have the time, usually delegating to my colleagues instead. Sometimes I miss this aspect of development work.

"The people employed by steute are friendly. They make good products which they are keen to sell, and they tackle this challenge together and consistently."

How would you describe the atmosphere at steute?

In the "Hitchhiker's Guide", probably the definitive work for computer scientists, Ford Prefect describes the Earth as "mostly harmless". The inhabitants of Earth think this is dismissive, if not downright insulting. And yet this term is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about the atmosphere at steute – in a positive sense, of course.
As I have no desire to anger my colleagues, maybe I should say a little more here. The people employed by steute are friendly. They make good products which they are keen to sell, and they tackle this challenge together and consistently. Most of them have families and live near the company. This close-knit and family-friendly spirit is something which I noticed immediately, back in the days of my agency work for the company. For me it was and is very attractive.
It is precisely this "familiar" attitude which colours the way colleagues behave around each other. Interaction is usually clear and direct, with no Newspeak and no insurmountable hierarchies preventing communication.

If you could change something at steute, what would it be?

I have always been a great advocate of remote work and working from home. Putting this into practice at steute, as well as other companies, was accelerated by Covid. It is now a concrete and comprehensive feature which I welcome wholeheartedly and which I hope is here to stay.