Gregor Karbstein, team leader in software development, at IVU in Berlin since 2006

Mathematician Gregor Karbstein has been working in the Berlin Development division for our duty scheduling product since 2006. How does he see himself and his role as a manager in Development?

Gregor, you're a mathematician in software development. Do those things really go together?

Yes, as a mathematician, coming here actually involved a career change. And yes, my experience shows that mathematicians and physicists can work productively in software development. Although it isn't an easy transition, it runs smoothly after that. Good developer teams also need really good IT specialists who have learned from the bottom up to develop large software systems professionally. However, in our experience, both mathematicians and physicists can be outstanding additions to our teams. Many of our trickiest problems are of a mathematical nature, and a strong capacity for abstraction always helps.

In addition, regardless of their training, every new employee has to learn a lot. Our complex standard product that has evolved over the years and the domain of public transport are a world of their own that only a few people have encountered before. 

What strengths and challenges do you see in Development at the moment?

We regard ourselves as system providers. As well as developing individual applications, we provide a system that covers and also integrates all business processes of transport operators. In the duty scheduling team, we cover a huge range of disciplines, and can often meet even the most unusual customer requirements from the product itself without individual development. That is a powerful tool.
The IVU product philosophy is a defining feature for us. Rather than expensive individual solutions, we aim for a sensible, long-lasting product for lots of different customers. The challenge when looking for general answers is to find right and consistently good solutions that provide added value for many customers. This is very exciting because it means that a real depth of expert knowledge can be accumulated over time. That motivates me.

How do you live out your leadership role at IVU?

I have been leader of a seven-strong team since 2015. My major task is to create a productive environment with and for my colleagues in which they can flourish. That requires a great deal of communication and mutual feedback. And it also means being able to change course at the right time. I want to be sure that everyone works autonomously and is fully aware of how to do their job well.