Employees are like wine – Some turn to vinegar but the best improve with age

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Attribution: Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F077948-0006 / Engelbert Reineke / CC-BY-SA

Working at Catalysts is different to other companies. Many of our employees have Catalysts as their first employer and are under the age of 25. Yet there are some exceptions that definitely improved with age and can still show the young guns how it’s done …

Software development is a neverending learning process. There are not many sectors where tools and processes change as quickly. Think about the last 20 years – some of our colleagues where not even planned. Others already walked their first steps and some already had their graduation in their pockets.

Wolfgang is over 50 and started to write his first lines of code in a time where many did not even know how to spell “programming”. That was in 1975! At the early age of 12, he did not have hardware like now. It was just a pocket calculator he used.

“When I signed my first contract as an employee, I remember that it took days to setup the hardware. After several weeks I presented my first ideas to the senior colleagues who had obviously no clue of software development. That is different here. I signed in the morning, worked in the afternoon and on the following day we rushed off to show our solution to the client. This is what makes Catalysts different to other companies. Bureaucracy is held to a minimum, the level of skills and knowledge of every employee is extremely high and the hierachy is flat like a pancake. There are no careerists and the level of internal interaction between the employees is admirable.”

Another good example is Robert who kicked off programming in 1986. Even without the use of a calculator we know that this means: the man got experience. When you ask Robert today, how he sees himself in a company surrounded by youngsters he laughs and replies,

“the young generation drives me and makes me feel younger than I actually am. When I look back at my first job, I constantly had the impression that no one wants to share information and knowledge with me. The risk was considered too high that someone adorns him- or herself with the feathers of the other. Of course that was rubbish. It was just the way it went. In an environment like the software industry, knowledge transfer is key. Everyone can be your teacher. I learn new things everyday from people that are half the age of me. Some errors are the same as we all did 20 years ago (e.g. out of bounds exceptions). This is where my expertise can help the next generation to prevent those.”

Philipp is only nineteen years old and one of the younger team members here at Catalysts.

“On the one hand, I might be one of the youngsters but the cool thing is that I can learn from the experience of others, on the other hand I can even show new approaches to the oldies. So that’s really give and take. To my mind, it is all about respecting the colleagues. No matter if old or young.”

So experience is not everything. One can stagnate easily in a fast changing environment. It needs strength and the will to walk the extra mile every single day to cope up with the market, adapt and develop yourself further. Company wide learning is a process that we force. We drive to find initiatives that help us to learn from each other.

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