From the cloud to the piste

Where quality of life and sporting excellence go hand in hand

What do a ski cross world champion and a passionate IT expert have in common? They both work on complex IT solutions at Würth ITensis. IT system manager and ski cross world champion Alex Fiva and ICT administrator Tobias Mannhöfer tell us about the clever strategies they use in their work, compare Mels to Berlin and give us an insight into their passions.

Many people will be familiar with Würth. But you both work at Würth ITensis. What do you do there?

Alex Fiva: Würth ITensis is an IT services provider that is responsible for all IT solutions within the Würth Group. As system manager, I am responsible for the backup systems. I did my apprenticeship here and will soon celebrate 18 years at the company.

Tobias Mannhöfer (laughs): I can’t compete with that. I’ve been here for six months and work in the Client Service team. Together, we advise customers and provide them with software and IT support, as well as performing backups.


Tobias, you spent your entire life in Berlin before moving to Mels. Why did you move?

TM: Previously, I had spent 15 years working at the Bundesdruckerei in Berlin. When my son was born five years ago, my wife and I thought about moving away for the first time to find a better school for him. We wanted to move to Switzerland, as we both had close relatives here and really liked the country. After spending a day here in Chur, our minds were made up. It was the perfect match.


You now live in Mels. How different is the quality of life here to where you lived previously?

TM: Hugely different. Both places have their upsides and downsides. Berlin is where I was born and grew up. There is always something going on there, day or night, and you don’t need a car to go anywhere. Here in Mels, I have much more peace and quiet, and my child can walk to kindergarten on his own. My son settled down here right away, too. He’s already started to correct me when I pronounce things incorrectly.


AF (laughs): Well, by my standards, Chur is a big city. I grew up in Lenzerheide and it was brilliant. You could go skiing or cycling on your own every day and just enjoy the great outdoors all the time. I think we both want to give our children this sense of freedom and a safe place to grow up.


What was the thing that surprised you most positively when you started working at Würth ITensis?

TM: I love how everyone here values each other. When I first started, the Head of IT would often ask me about how I was doing. It made me feel like they knew that I had moved to a new country and wanted to make it easier for me to find my feet. I never experienced that in Germany. There is even a culture team here that regularly organises events like fly fishing or a tour through a coffee roasting house. And today, we are celebrating our Christmas party that we missed last year. Everyone is coming dressed up as their childhood heroes. I can’t wait!


AF: Yeah, you are going to have a lot of fun tonight. It’s interesting to hear what you like about this place. I only know Würth. But one of the nice things about being part of an international company is that no two days are the same. There are always new challenges.


What challenges are you currently facing?

TM: Würth is a global company. That means there are lots of IT organisations within the group. The big plan at the moment is to unite all of the international Würth IT companies, from Switzerland to China, under a single IT structure. This will help us deal with the constantly growing demands on IT and the associated workload together. It is a massive project.


Do you also have the opportunity to go to China for a project, for example?

AF: We can attend seminars through the International Academy at headquarters and specialise in SAP, for example. Employees often travel abroad for training events like a traineeship in Shanghai.


Alex, you frequently travel around the world. At this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, you won the silver medal in ski cross. Would it be right to say that your job here is something you do on the side?

AF: Yes, that’s true. I’m very fortunate to be able to do that. Flexibility is a big thing here. When I was doing my IT apprenticeship, I was still skiing in the Alps and missed a lot. Later, I spent a period working full-time because I wasn’t very active in the sport any more. And then, all of a sudden, skiing and ski cross became more important than my job again. I work more or less depending on the season. It is very important for me to have this flexibility.


You even have your very own massage room and fully equipped gym here.

TM: Yes, and the masseur is really good by the way!


AF: I have to admit that while I was doing my apprenticeship, I would come into the massage room at lunchtime to sleep. But in all seriousness, the company is very good when it comes to competitive sports. Aside from myself, there is also someone who does snowboard cross, an indoor hockey player and a professional golfer. Having competitive sports people as employees has its advantages. We are ambitious and determined. We treat every challenge at work like a sporting challenge and really get into it. We keep going until we find a solution.