A Day in the Life Interview with Gero Decker, CEO of Signavio
This week are are joined by Gero Decker, CEO of Signavio, the leading platform for business process management and business decision management in the cloud, based in tech city Berlin.
- Firstly, can you tell us a bit about your job? What does your company do?
My name is Gero Decker. I am CEO and one of the founders of Signavio. Signavio is a B2B SaaS company helping mid-sized and large organizations improve their business operations. Our platform allows for understanding, discussion, analysis and automation of business processes.
- How did you come to be involved in this field?
Before starting Signavio, I did a PhD in Business Process Management at Hasso Plattner Institute. As a PhD student, I had plenty of time and motivated students around me. We started building the world’s first web-based flowcharting tool, just for the technical challenge. It turned out that people actually used it and so we built a company around that idea.
- What time does your day start, and what does your typical work day schedule look like?
On those rare days when I am at our Berlin headquarters and don’t spend the day with customers or partners, my kids (I have two little boys) wake me up at around 7am. After I have taken the older one to kindergarten, I head to the office on the underground. Most of the team is located in Berlin. On a typical day, I have 5-10 internal meetings with marketing, sales, engineering, customer service and my CFO. On top, there are customer and partner meetings held at the office or over the phone. I try to leave the office at around 6pm, but, unfortunately, that rarely works out, mostly because I only get to my emails around that time. So I try to at least be home early enough to take my kids to bed.
- What kind of projects are you currently working on?
Right now my two biggest projects are our US expansion and the launch of our new product, “Process Intelligence”. This summer, we opened a new office in Boston and have hired 15 people on the East Coast so far. At the moment, I spend 1-2 weeks in Boston every month. Our new product is a big data analytics product for business processes. The engineers have been working on it for more than 12 months and we are very excited to release it to market on November 2nd.
- What do you consider the greatest achievement in your work to date?
It feels good to have built Signavio into a profitable company of 120 people, definitely. With almost 1,000 customers, we are generating a serious impact and addressing a wide variety of operational scenarios: From improving logistics & supply chain, ensuring compliance in financial institutions, to speeding up the asylum application process – just to name a few examples.
- What is the one app you could not live without?
Google Maps. I literally would be lost without it.
- What’s the best thing about working at your company?
The team. I am very fortunate to work with a crowd of very motivated and creative people. It is amazing to see what you can achieve if everyone is working towards a shared vision.
- Where is the after work hangout?
Oftentimes at home with my wife and two kids.
- Who is your professional role model?
Hasso Plattner. I have met him a couple of times during my studies and PhD times. He is an engineer by heart, just like myself, but understands business just as well. He has built the most incredible software company in Europe and is still very actively involved, after all these years.
- What makes Berlin a good city for technology and startups?
There are a lot of likeminded people. When you start your own company, you must be crazy. Great to see that there are so many crazy people just like you around.
- Which tech trends are you most excited about?
The one tech trend we are very actively involved in, is “Digital Labor”. What happened to production/factory work in the past, is slowly happening to information-intensive business. Organizations’ operations are highly impacted and much of the cognitive work in business will be performed by machines going forward. This is exciting for the companies but also a challenge for society as a whole.
- What are the top 3 qualities you look for in an employee?
A new “Signavian” must be motivated, smart and receptive for change. Signavio is a tornado; for some people this is the kind of environment they thrive in, some might require a more stable environment.
- And finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to an entrepreneur starting out?
It is a very, very long journey that you are on. Especially, once things start to work out in your company, new challenges will come at you for years to come.