26. June 2019

Create, not manage

What drives entrepreneurs in Adlershof

Kurt Winter, IQ Wireless © WISTA Management GmbH
The Austrian Kurt Winter is Managing Director of IQ Wireless GmbH. Credit: WISTA Management GmbH
art photonics © WISTA Management GmbH
Physicist Viacheslav Artyushenko (r.) and product manager Iskander Usenov develop fibre optic cables for application in research, industry, and medicine. Credit: WISTA Management GmbH

The Adlershof campus is one of the most successful technology parks in the country. And for good reasons. The most important are its resourceful, courageous, highly motivated risk-taking entrepreneurs. We wanted to find out what drives them. What are their goals? How do they motivate their staff?

Three things drive Kurt Winter: moving forward, advancing technologies, leading the way. In April, Winter became CEO of IQ Wireless GmbH, a company offering high-performance aerospace radio solutions, including ‘FireWatch’, an optical system for automatic detection of forest fires that gained much attention. Delicate and highly specialised technology on the bleeding edge – just how Winter likes it.

The Austrian native started his first own business early on and has never stopped since. He commutes between Adlershof and his native Gleisdorf, where he has been running a software company for traffic management systems for 20 years. He knows full well that a company will not stay on the market for long if it does not have motivated staff who are passionate about their work. ‘It is essential that team members bear responsibility, do well what they do best, and have fun doing it,’ Winter outlines what is important to him. His motto is: ‘If you are successful in keeping yourself and your staff happy, everything is possible.’

For this reasons, IQ Wireless does not have rigid hierarchies and a top-down approach. Teams are reconfigured to match each project. Every team member knows what they must contribute to a project’s success. According to Winter, this is facilitated by the company’s size. The team of IQ Wireless consists of 30 people. ‘This makes it possible to actually talk to each other.’ Incidentally, this is exactly what the Austrian entrepreneur did the most when he first came to Adlershof. Over the course of two months, he took the time to speak to every employee for at least an hour. ‘This was good for me and for the employees. It builds trust,’ says Winter. Trust like this must be nurtured and so the high-tech company made it a tradition to get together after work every Thursday in the team kitchen. In this setting, everybody can say what’s on their mind. Winter loves a chat as much as he likes high-tech. A good entrepreneur cannot be afraid of people. This is quite clear when talking to him, like his credo: create, not manage. The company benefits from Winter’s strong intrinsic motivation: ‘I love being an entrepreneur,’ he says.

Viacheslav Artyushenko, too, is very happy with his job as founder and CEO of art photonics GmbH. Founded in 1998, the company’s 30-strong team develops and manufactures fibre optic cables for application in research, industry, and medicine. Its customers include the European Space Agency (ESA), Bayer AG, BASF SE, and Coherent, Inc., a laser company. A physicist by trade, Artyushenko is considered a pioneer of polycrystalline mid-infrared fibre optics, which he developed in 1980, when he started his career in science in Moscow. After watching the Soviet system’s demise, he co-founded a Russian-American-German joint venture as early as 1990 and, eight years later, went the next step with his own company in Adlershof. ‘My wish was for my ideas to change things and be turned into products, for example, medical products for fighting cancer,” says the 65-year-old. ‘This has kept me going all this time.’ This also applies to his employees, who he seeks to motivate with challenging but meaningful work. This makes up the foundation. Building on top of this are small teams, an intimate work atmosphere, flexible time management, and company events like barbecues, outings, and birthday parties. ‘It should be possible to love your work but also spend time with your family,” says the CEO. He also values exchanging ideas within the team because this fosters creativity and a positive work environment. Moreover, the company provides high benefits and promotion opportunities. However, and Artyushenko emphasises this point again and again: money is not everything.

This is underscored by the results of Adlershof’s 2018 annual survey. In the category ‘Motivation for entrepreneurship’, among the top 3 were success and prestige, social motivation such as creating jobs and social progress, and to realise ideas and shape the future. It is not hard to tell that Adlershof is a place not for mere managers but for creators.

By Chris Löwer for Adlershof Journal