Of software and sandals

Michael Kriegel is an inventor in the service of nature

Michael Kriegel is a software architect who spends his spare time trying to protect the Earth for future generations. Who says computer geeks spend all their time indoors?

The cafeteria in the brand-new Viega Schweiz AG building is bustling with activity at 10 a.m. – furniture is being moved around next to employees enjoying a cup of coffee, protective sheeting is still all over the place and it really feels like the future has arrived. Some employees are having their break – break times are arranged so that no department is unstaffed and Viega Schweiz AG employees have the opportunity to socialise with colleagues from different business units.


Exposed concrete and sandals

This is something the company sees as very important, and is one of the measures that contributes to creating an inspiring atmosphere. In the new building, for example, there is a dark blue library with a fireplace, which could just as well be found in a boutique hotel. The building is very modern, with lots of exposed concrete, lots of light, lots of space. The silhouette of the Graubünden Alps is currently being laminated onto the glass panes of the offices.

“I was specifically looking for a job in Graubünden”

Michael Kriegel also loves the new building, “especially, of course, because it was built in compliance with the Minergie-P standard,” he says. Environmental protection and sustainability are big issues in the 30-year-old’s life. He wears Birkenstock sandals with socks, like everyone else here who handles electronics (“They protect against static electricity”), and has a Sherlock Holmes–like inclination for analysis.


No room for mental laziness.

No answer is rash, no opinion is not based on empirical evidence, no counterargument remains unanswered. Even when he explains why environmental protection is close to his heart, the stories he tells are not of dying polar bears, but of facts, projections and pragmatic considerations – not due to a lack of emotion, but as a consequence of his very thorough, precise way of thinking. This might be job conditioning, or perhaps just the fact that Michael has found a profession that suits him perfectly – as a software architect, he is responsible for making sure the individual parts of a software program work together perfectly. There is no room for mental laziness.

“I grew up in the former German Democratic Republic, right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. There was no explicit awareness of environmental protection, but there was no material excess either – we had to make do with what we had. My passion for protecting the environment was born of a desire to preserve the Earth for this and future generations,” Michael explains.


“Grateful to be here”

Michael is a part-time environmentalist and a full-time tech nerd, as evidenced by the solar panels on his balcony (which he used to run his refrigerator for a whole summer and to play films for friends), his customised e-trike for trips into the mountains and transporting heavy loads, and the wooden glasses he made for himself.


Simply put: he loves nature very much. “I was specifically looking for a job in Graubünden”, says Michael, who has been fascinated by the mountains since childhood. Michael loves the great outdoors and has been fascinated by the mountains since childhood. “I was specifically looking for a job in Graubünden,” he says. He has been living in Switzerland for eight years now and is grateful for every one of them. Michael spends as much time outdoors as he can, hiking or biking along challenging trails.


Matter of honour: Volunteering

He dedicates a lot of his free time to environmental protection, supporting WWF projects or helping Films for the Earth, an initiative that organises festivals on the subject of sustainability in over 20 cities every year. When we ask him exactly what he does there, he laughs: “I’m the technical guy. It’s the same with any organisation – if you let slip that you’re a computer scientist, someone will immediately come along and say: ‘Oh great, can you check out this problem we’re having with our computers?’ Obviously I’m always happy to help, but sometimes it would be nice to have a break from the day job!” That is also one of the reasons why he would be happy to see more engineers come to Graubünden soon, he says with a smile.

Learn more about Viega Schweiz AG