Spiritual connection

Half a Life – The Story of my Second Family is the title he would give his job at virtual7. He has spent his entire professional life at virtual7 and in the almost 18 years since then, many colleagues have become a second family to him. Throughout his time at virtual7, Marek Hubatka has grown with his tasks, experienced unforgettable moments, and gone through exciting changes at virtual7. He says he has developed a spiritual connection to computers and technologies that enables him to find the right solutions to pretty much any problem.

What has happened at virtual7 over the years and how did the company evolve? Get all the first-hand information here. Has Marek ever thought about leaving virtual7? What makes his job at virtual7 special besides his spiritual connection to technology and computers? Find the answer in his What’s your Story?!

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A MEMBER OF VIRTUAL7? EVER THOUGHT ABOUT GOING SOMEWHERE ELSE AFTER SUCH A LONG TIME? WHY NOT?

I started at virtual7 in September 2003. After such a long time, I naturally thought about whether it might be time to see something else and work somewhere else. In the end, what has kept me going for so long is that I haven’t always done the same thing over the 17 years. Like oneself, virtual7 is constantly evolving. Stagnation was never a thing at virtual7. I learn something new every single day at work. That’s why I’ve never had the urge to go anywhere else.

WHAT DID THIS DEVELOPMENT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU PERSONALLY?

I started with an apprenticeship as an IT specialist in application development at virtual7. At that time, the Karlsruhe Research Center (now KIT Campus North) was a partner company of virtual7 GmbH. So I was employed by the research center, but I learned at virtual7. Quite early on, I also started to support other topics and thus moved more and more in the administrative direction. After some time I took over the administration of our internal systems completely. I stayed in the administrative direction after my apprenticeship. This means that I did less and less programming and took more and more care of our servers and those of our customers. The special thing about this development was that virtual7 was not looking for an infrastructure specialist, it just turned out that I like to do this and that my strengths lie in it. 3 years ago I got the offer to lead the team Infrastructure and Operations, as it was called at that time. After a short period of reflection, I gladly accepted this offer and continued to take on new tasks. With the responsive company organization, things changed again. The responsibilities of the managerial position were reflected in various roles. Some of these roles and responsibilities were taken over by other team members. I have retained another part.

WHAT HAS THE DEVELOPMENT BEEN LIKE FOR VIRTUAL7?

I have seen virtual7 grow over the last 17 years. From not even 10 employees at the beginning, we have grown to currently over 120 employees, at 5 offices and in 3 countries. This connects and binds me to virtual7 to a certain extent. After all, I have also been a part of this development and have had the opportunity to help shape it through my work. About two years ago, we started to question our corporate structure. This is something every company should do when it reaches a certain size. Since we never stand still at virtual7, we started to consider whether there was an alternative path for our company and how we could organize the company in such a way that it would be more efficient and able to respond to the current situation on the market in the best possible way and quickly.

We never stand still as a company, there is always something that can be adapted and improved. That’s exactly where we are right now, in the middle of the chapter of something completely new.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY GOOD AT?

My logical thinking helps me with programming and working with computers in general. I keep saying it, I just have a kind of spiritual connection to computers and everything technical. I find mistakes where others would despair – or have already despaired. One reason for this is the experience I have gained over the last years. But it is also somehow intuition.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU AT WORK?

What’s particularly important to me at work is that I can work independently. I can’t imagine working somewhere where someone is always looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do. Since I’ve spent my entire professional life at virtual7, I don’t really have anything to compare it with. However, you always get to see how things are done in other companies. In my opinion, the employees are the ones who know the most about operational processes. After all, they have the most contact with it in their daily work. I don’t want anyone interfering in these processes and dictating their way of working to me. That’s why the certain freedoms I have at virtual7 are important to me. If something doesn’t work right, I appreciate the open way of dealing with each other, both among colleagues and with the Managing Directors.

"It's the only job I know that still fulfills me. After 18 years, I still enjoy it. I think that's pretty unique."

WHAT DO YOU GET PASSIONATE ABOUT SO MUCH THAT YOU FORGET EVERYTHING AROUND YOU?

What I find totally exciting is to be faced with a challenging problem. Be it a server error or something else that doesn’t work. Then I sometimes sit for days trying to find the solution to the problem. I can dig into the smallest details. I look at the source codes of the underlying server software and try to understand it. I look into the individual network packets to understand what is happening in the background. I try to find out as much as possible about the whole process to be able to deduce where the error comes from. It is a challenge and at the same time very interesting to get deep into the problem. These are the moments when you can learn the most. I tell new colleagues in infrastructure all the time. It’s nice when you can set up a server and everything works great. If you want to learn something, a tricky problem is the best thing that can happen to you. Only then do you really go deep into the matter and understand how things are connected and where you can change adjusting screws to get to the solution.

These are things that can really captivate me and where my spiritual connection and logical thinking come into play. I’ve really solved a lot of exotic problems myself because no one has ever had this problem and been able to help me – not even the Internet.

WHAT ARE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ROLES? WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AT VIRTUAL7?

It is difficult to say that certain roles are more important than others. There are Fundamental Roles that a cluster needs to function, but that doesn’t make the other roles any less important. I like all my roles, even if I have a lot of them. A reason for that is, that some of the responsibilities of my position as head converted into roles.  How much effort or time I put into each role varies. Recently we had the internal annual meetings, which take up quite a lot of time in the Team Development role. I have to gather a lot of information for this. Due to salary requests, the Budget Management role is also important. As soon as the Strategy Discourse comes up, I spend more time in the Strategy Development role. And then there’s budget planning twice a year. Once all that is over, I can move on to the operational roles.

HOW DO YOU LIKE THE CHANGE TO A RESPONSIVE CORPORATE ORGANIZATION? WOULD YOU SOMETIMES PREFER TO HAVE MORE "RULES"?

Even before the introduction of the responsive company organization, I didn’t experience any regulations in this sense. That’s also what I really appreciate about working at virtual7. We have always had very flat hierarchies. It took us a long time to get to the point where we saw the need to introduce a second level into the company organization. At some point, there were so many employees that even our managing directors Jochen and Marcus could no longer coordinate everything themselves. That’s why we introduced the Heads. But even for the heads, all the tasks became too much at some point and so we decided together as a company to take the step towards a responsive company organization and to divide the responsibilities into roles instead of bundling them in one position. In the future, this will also simplify personnel changes in the team if only individual roles need to be re-staffed and not the one position that carries all responsibilities. I’m also a big fan and advocate of lived transparency. We never were secretive about issues either, but it wasn’t as open as it is now. Anyone can access any information if they want to. A lot of the information is actively shared by staff, role holders, and management. That goes through cluster strategies to meeting notes and all the information about what’s going on in each cluster. This makes it easier to understand why certain actions or decisions are taken.