Patricia: Hello Christian. Thank you for telling us more about your role as Head of Frontend at IBM iX. What are your current core tasks as Head of Frontend and what do you particularly like about working at IBM iX?
Christian: Hi Patricia. I work as Head of Frontend at IBM iX studio Dusseldorf and am responsible for a team of nine colleagues. In my role as Head of Frontend, it is part of my job to ensure everyone in my team feels comfortable and is appropriately supported. My main tasks not only include looking after my team but also constant communication with the Heads of Frontend at the other sites, e.g. in Austria or Croatia. However, since I still very much enjoy coding, I continue to work on projects as a Frontend Developer.
Patricia: You have been working at IBM iX for more than 10 years now. What makes it so attractive to work as a frontend developer here?
Christian: The Frontend Developer role at IBM iX is very diverse. We use a variety of technologies, for example, Linter for coding guidelines, webpack, SCSS/SASS, typescript, and various CMS systems and application frameworks such as React, Angular, and VUE. Atomic design and accessibility are also important issues, which bring further exciting challenges. I particularly like the continuing education offered at IBM iX. At the internal Academy, we can also complete training courses like as EcmaScript for beginners and Angular, but also seminars for personal development, such as employee leadership and conflict management. In addition, we can also share our own expertise and hold training courses for colleagues.
Patricia: It’s not very common for a Frontend Developer to stay with one company for so long, is it? How did that come about?
Christian: The opportunities for further development, the team, and, in particular, the opportunity to make a contribution are compelling. Here we can help shape our own career paths and develop further, not only in our own roles but also in completely different areas.
Patricia: And how has your role at IBM iX changed over the years?
Christian: I joined IBM iX as a PHP developer, then switched to the frontend area and progressed from a junior frontend developer role to a senior one. In the role of a Senior Frontend Developer, I often took the lead in projects and began to lead small teams. In 2016 I was offered the role of Head of Frontend. I had never imagined doing that before but, when I was offered the role, I had already gained a lot of experience in team leadership on projects. So I just plucked up the courage and accepted the new job.
Patricia: You said there are great opportunities to contribute at IBM iX and that the digital agency thrives on employees being able to implement their own ideas. Do you have a specific example?
Christian: I discovered SCSS around eight years ago. At that time there were fewer people and the process of trying new things was different. I worked on a project that wanted to issue multiple themes and it was necessary to generate a CSS for each of them. Maintaining and fixing multiple themes would have been a nightmare at that time. So I just tried it with SCSS and luckily everything worked out! Since then no project has been created without it.
Patricia: That sounds exciting. You mentioned your core tasks to us at the beginning. Perhaps you could give us some deeper insights into your daily work?
Christian: For me, there is very little routine in my daily work and every day is very different. I have regular 1:1 discussions with my team of course. Once a week we also have a team meeting, our ‘dev minutes’. I also still work as a project lead or technical architect on projects and regularly coordinate with my project team. As a Frontend Dev you have a lot of freedom for creativity in projects, e.g. for animations or optimisation proposals according to the design. Aside from that, as Head of Frontend, I deal with organisational matters and induct new employees.
Patricia: What else can you tell us about your work or the culture here?
Christian: At all IBM iX locations, the frontend area is agile and works according to the Scrum method. This makes the work a lot easier and structures the tasks. Our teams are international, so at work, I communicate 50% of the time in English and 50% in German. I also work from home occasionally, which is very convenient for me because of the distance to my workplace. And if something happens at home at short notice, people can usually work from home. My colleagues are also relaxed and always ready to have fun. It is important to me that not only is work enjoyable but also the interaction with my colleagues. If you need help or a second opinion it is always at hand, for example via Slack.
Patricia: Would you like to tell us another ‘fun fact’ about yourself? What are you known for in your team?
Christian: I am an avid Coca-Cola fan! It is essential to every day and my colleagues know that. But only from noon, I draw the line at breakfast! If I don’t have one to hand at lunchtime everyone immediately worries whether there’s something wrong with me. I’m also known for being passionate about photographing landscapes with my camera or drone. One of my pictures hangs in my office at home.
Patricia: Thank you Christian for this great interview and these exciting insights.
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