In 2016, Florian joined MHP based on recommendations by acquaintances. As CIO, he has overall responsibility for our internal IT team and manages a team of almost 40 colleagues. Florian can often be found at our Ludwigsburg headquarters although he actually lives in the Black Forest with his family, so he generally works remotely. Alongside his work at MHP, he invests a lot of time in academic studies. In 2017, he completed an MBA.
Florian, what does a CIO actually do in an IT consulting firm?
“I’m responsible for the traditional tasks of a CIO: I develop the company’s IT strategy and implement it with my team, drive the digitalization of our business processes, and manage the service desk. Because, although it may sound obvious, it is absolutely vital that our systems work perfectly.
However, the unique thing about the CIO role in a consulting firm is the requirements of the consultants – they are on the road a lot and have to be able to rely completely on their mobile environment at all times, wherever they are. Their devices and access to the cloud are vital for this. Also, any problems have to be fixed immediately, otherwise they are unable to work. The challenge lies in staying on top of everything while keeping costs under control.
At MHP, we have also experienced incredible growth over the last few years, which required us to update our processes and make them even more professional. The freedom resulting from these challenges was one of the reasons why I decided to join MHP at the time.”
As CIO, you have a huge range of tasks as well as a lot of responsibility. What experiences do you draw on to support you in your role?
“When I first started at MHP, the experience I gained with my previous employer was a great help. For example, I was responsible for implementing the post-merger integration of the IT departments when the company was taken over. Now I would say that I mostly draw on my experience here at MHP.
I’ve also been able to build up considerable expertise through the studies that I’ve completed alongside my job. This experience has also helped to shape me as a person. Juggling a full-time job while studying was quite demanding at times – especially when I took the CIO role at MHP in 2016 in the middle of my MBA course.
However, by that time I was used to it since I had not followed a traditional career path. I gained a great deal of knowledge and experience along the way.
I firmly believe that: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” This conviction has only been strengthened in recent years.”
In what way did you not follow a traditional career path?
“In the sense that I didn’t take my school leaving exams, do a university degree, then get a job. I wasn’t especially good at school the first-time round. In fact, the only lesson I really enjoyed at school was IT. That’s why my goal was to complete an apprenticeship as an IT specialist. Since this required a school-leaving certificate, I first had to do a bit of a detour at a metallurgy vocational technical college.
It was during my apprenticeship that I realized that not only could I repair PCs, but that I was fascinated by the entire complex field of IT. And the rest is history: I got my first bachelor’s degree, second bachelor’s degree, the appointment as CIO, then the MBA. And I did all of the studying alongside my job. This path is certainly something of an exception – but I don’t regret it. It has all contributed to the experience I have today.”
As CIO, you are under constant strain yet also managed to study at the same time – how do you achieve a healthy work/life balance?
I live in the Black Forest, which is the perfect place to spend my free time. I find the best way to switch off is on long walks with my family or friends. Two things in particular help to clear my mind: my family and spending time in nature.”
You were a finalist in the CIO Young Talent Award 2015 and last year, together with your team, were among the top 20 in CIO of the Year 2020. First of all, congratulations! Tell us about what happened.
“Thanks very much – I was very pleased with the standings and hadn’t really expected them either time. The thing that made me most happy was not the standings but just how many people shared in the excitement. It is wonderful to feel so appreciated.
Let me answer the question of how it all happened: Your name is put forward for the CIO Young Talent Award by your CIO and you have to pass an assessment. CIO of the Year is awarded annually by CIO magazine and Computerwoche based on different criteria, with special recognition for outstanding digitalization projects from the last two years.
And what goals have you set yourself for the next few years?
“My main professional goal for the next few years is to support the growth and increasing digitalization of MHP. To be specific, our vision is to digitalize all documentation to ultimately gain maximum benefit from our valuable data. This is already underway and will remain a challenge that I am happy to continue pursuing in the future.”
We have come to our last question: Looking back, what advice would you give to today’s school leavers?
“My tip would be to think about your long-term goals from an early age. Then I would recommend setting short-term goals in the meantime. You need to make sure that these goals are achievable, otherwise you will feel demotivated. Always keep these goals in mind, however many challenges you have to face to achieve them.”