What's it like to work at Zammad?

Zammad Diary | Thorsten Eckel: Super Mario, Drunken Easter Bunnies and the True North

Thorsten is our CTO and has been with Zammad since the beginning of time. We've asked him a few questions about his job, his routine, and what he likes most about working for Zammad. Check out this interview for a glimpse behind the scenes and to learn what truly makes a techie's heart beat faster.

Polygon portrait of Thorsten Eckel, CTO at Zammad

Welcome to the Zammad Diary! What is your name and position at Zammad?
Hello World! I‘m Thorsten, CTO at Zammad and striving for "True North".
(Note: The "True North" is a metaphorical compass needle that takes a company from the Status Quo to where they want to be. It's a key concept in Lean process improvement and refers to what we should do, not what we can do.)

What are you known for?
I‘m the "he was already here when I joined" guy. I show people around and help where I can – especially in the codebase.

What are you working on right now?
I just finished up the last Zammad release and started working on the upcoming one. In between, I work closely together with a great bunch of highly talented developers and lovely people from other departments. Best days? Reducing friction in Zammad or our processes.

What new things have you learned on the job lately?
Most things I learn are very technical and boring for most people. At least my girlfriend asks me about them whenever she can‘t sleep. Unfortunately, I get very excited when talking about them and can‘t sleep at all. There‘s always a new angle when giving things a second thought.
Want to sleep? Let me tell you about web application architecture, S/MIME certificate chain validation, Oauth2 flows, possible security attack vectors… If this sounds unexpectedly interesting to you please get in touch with us. You might want to join our team.

What motivates you every morning?
I love searching for and then finding solutions. No matter the size, context, form, or requirements.

What do you love most about remote work? (And what's tough?)
You know, there is this issue that needs to get resolved. It‘s a reeeally tough one. Many constraints and complicated. All of that and more. What do I need to solve it? A context that doesn‘t limit or distract me. My comfort zone, if you want. Remote work enables me to choose and create that context without limiting others.
But on the downside, most of my colleagues live too far away to attend all the BBQ parties that I invite myself to.

How do you entertain your team?
I hide bugs all over the codebase like a drunken easter bunny would do. On purpose, of course.

How do you manage to break out of your daily routines?
People are a source of entropy. Meeting people and diving deep into what‘s up in their bubble is something I love to do. It fascinates me how one or two hours of talking to someone you've known for years (or even a total stranger) can change your view of the world – or an issue I‘m currently working on.

What does your desk look like?
Things haven‘t changed much in the past 20 years. Monitor, mouse, keyboard, and my backlog in the form of letters and paper. Still having trouble with all those cables.

Photo of desk

Do you have a passion that wouldn't be obvious from your resume?
Movies, TV series, and retro video games. Finishing "Super Mario World" 100% complete with all hidden levels on my SNES once a year has become a tradition. Treat your roots.

What inspires you?
These magic moments when it wasn‘t planned but everything comes together as if it was meant to be and forms something beautiful. You can spot them more often than you think.

What is good teamwork for you?
Sharing the trait to have respect for other people and for oneself. The secret ingredient is respect for the people that are not part of the team – yet.

What would you do if money was no problem?
Money is no problem if you get it by following your passion and spending it back on it again. It‘s like a Perpetuum mobile that sets you free.
(Note: In case you don't know, a Perpetuum mobile is a utopian machine that works non-stop without energy supply.)

Which app urgently needs to be invented?
Definitely the "You‘re talking too much again, Thorsten" App.

You have 1,000 unread messages and only time to respond to 50. How do you decide?
In the hope that none of them is escalating, I‘d start with the oldest one.

How do you evaluate your personal success?
I base it on the satisfaction level of everyone involved. Directly and indirectly.

What two career tips do you have?
There is no best, only better. Start and never stop trusting your gut.

How do you explain to your parents where you work and what your job is?
Please help. I can‘t.

What do you miss from your previous job?
Working closely with my colleagues 💌 Please join Zammad soon!

What feature do you find coolest about Zammad?
I really like the smart defaults. Having your company logo when setting the Zammad help desk up or how it automatically loads your corporate design when configuring the chat still amazes me. However, there are still places where we can do better.

What's your favorite Zammad anecdote?
That time when we thought that it wouldn‘t be that much work to implement X ...

Which famous person would you like to have join the Zammad team and why?
So many great people out there. But I‘d pick Steve Schoger. He‘s a genius and master of the UI/UX design craft.

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