In a very relaxed, family atmosphere, we spoke to our CEO Michael Schwarzenbacher last week about his special bond with UNiQUARE. Please read below why this has existed for much longer than you might think and how his private life is intertwined professional.
UNiQUARE: Officially you’ve been with UNiQUARE since 2010, unofficially probably rather longer. What are your first memories of GENESiS/UNiQUARE? What was it like for you back then?
Michael: There are many. The really first ones are of our first office; back then above a motorcycle/bicycle dealership. Well, my father, Dietmar Schwarzenbacher, didn’t found it in the classic way in a garage, but above one. My second memory is my first business trip: it took me to an Italian bank in the early 1990s. Although our car was already well filled with 4 colleagues, my father gave me a ride so that I – then 7 years old – could see what he was doing… the rest is history.
UNiQUARE: You have been on the management board of UNiQUARE for five years. What do you particularly remember from that time? What were your personal successes and challenges; what have you learned?
Michael: Let me start with the challenges because they’re the ones I usually start the day with. These have been very exciting in recent years because they could not have been more varied. In particular, the successful development of new business areas with our subsidiaries and their products optio and VERA brought new challenges. Of course, the pandemic and its effects were a constant companion: overnight there were no more business trips. Asking over 100 colleagues to work from home was a big change. In the end, this also makes the work varied, but sometimes also stressful, of course. The lessons I learn from this are that you shouldn’t run away from challenges, you should look for them. Very often they lead to positive results.
UNiQUARE: In your view, what makes UNiQUARE special?
Michael: This subject could take us far and wide. There are also very different views of what is special about UNiQUARE. For me it is very clearly linked in the company DNA with my father as the founder of the company. This means that I see us as particularly solution-oriented and innovative, always courteous and always communicating at eye level, whether with our employees, business partners or customers. With our personal touch in an otherwise often dry business, we have developed many friendships from exciting projects. They then last and often last long beyond the business relationship.
UNiQUARE: From November you are the sole CEO of UNiQUARE. How do you see the further development of UNiQUARE?
Michael: An organization develops all the time. As the sole CEO, you naturally have a duty to make the right decisions. I follow a very simple strategy here: mistakes are allowed, but one must learn from them. I therefore see my main task in understanding our weaknesses and mistakes as best as possible in order to gradually eliminate them in the team. At the same time, it is also important to me that we are aware of our strengths and know how to use them with confidence. This requires a healthy mix of experience and young, brash employees. Our common goal is to create a successful future.
UNiQUARE: Career & family have always been a top priority at UNiQUARE. The company has received multiple awards. How do you manage to reconcile both in management?
Michael: In fairness, how I manage to juggle the two is only a small part of the equation. First of all, I have to thank my wife, who does a lot at home and has cut back on her job. I am also fortunate that my children are very easy to care for, healthy and not very demanding. All this allows me to balance a job where you don’t always know exactly when you’ll be home with the family life. It works well that I get up with the children every morning, get them ready, make breakfast and then take them to kindergarten. This gives us our time together – no matter what happens in the office until the evening. Of course, the weekends belong to the family: children’s books, dad as a pony and ski instructor. This creates a perfect balance and gives more energy than it takes.
I wouldn’t want to miss this time for anything. Therefore, it goes without saying that we should also offer employees these opportunities to find the best possible balance between work and family. We practice and continually develop topics such as flexible working hours and home office, different part-time models for everyone, including those in management positions. Also, equal opportunities, for example for employees after returning from parental leave and working part-time, have always been extremely important to us.
UNiQUARE was founded in 1988 by Dietmar Schwarzenbacher and is 100% privately owned. Today, the innovative family business is led by the second generation: Michael Schwarzenbacher is Dietmar’s youngest son.
Picture: ©Gernot Gleiss