The First Prototype Is a Bit Like Magic

Interview with Julian Gerlach, Project Manager
As at 2019

"When I held the first prototype in my hands it was a bit like magic." - Julian Gerlach is a product manager through and through. Julian used to help in his father's electronics workshop even as a child, and after his studies and two years as a trainee at Gira, he's now a project manager. The "System 3000" project was his first milestone, and he's aiming to complete many more.


Trainees at Gira

Responsibility as a product developer

Degree in electrical engineering

After your degree, you worked in an engineering firm. Why didn't you stay in that job?

I realised that it was only a transition point for me, and that I wanted to work in a large industrial company, where you really have a lot of different jobs to do. This is why I thought to myself that Gira was the place for me.

When studying, what was it that you found difficult and what motivated you to learn?

For me, my studies were purely a means of accessing a job. Of course, I have to admit that the theoretical subjects in particular, like maths, are all quite tough and uninspiring, but you just have to do them. Then again, you know why you're doing it. And that motivates you to get through it.

How did it all kick off at Gira?

I joined Gira in 2014. I started as a trainee and was given the task of spending two years getting to know different departments within the company. I was able to gain experience in each department, familiarise myself with processes, and take on a range of tasks. When the two years were up, there was then the question of which department I could carry on working in. There was a vacancy in Project Management at that time, and I had actually just spent the past six months working there. I'd already taken charge of some of the smaller tasks and managed a few minor projects. And so we decided that this would be a good fit, and I joined the department. I already knew how things were organised, and so I could jump straight in and start managing various projects.

"I'm not scared of failing because all my decisions are thought through and taken as part of a team. "

What were the biggest hurdles that you had to overcome, and how do you deal with responsibility?

I find that having to bear responsibility actually motivates me. I'm not scared of failing because all my decisions are thought through and taken as part of a team. The big hurdles were getting the product ready for launch in the allotted time, as we had to deal with significant setbacks. And we had to get a lot of things running in parallel and keep on looking to see where we could take time away from something or bring something forward. It was a question of assessing the risk. In software development, there are always bugs to be fixed and then you need to decide which flaws will restrict the market for the product and which won't. Recently, it's been very difficult to keep on motivating the team.

"I think that I have a responsible job that fulfils me. I'd like to carry on working here and prove myself."

What was it like when you held the functioning prototype in your hands for the very first time?

When I held the first prototype in my hands and was able to control the product via the app for the first time, it was a bit like magic. Of course it's familiar to us and we know how it works. But when you see that this is the product that we're responsible for developing, then you quickly get a good feeling and realise that you're on the right track.

Have you come across situations in your everyday life where you recognise products?

Yes, that's actually something that happens every day. Of course, I particularly notice the products for which I've personally had some responsibility for developing. It fills you with pride. You've worked on this and know just how much work was involved in developing the product and what the team achieved in getting the product out onto the market. So of course you're delighted to see that customers are really using it.

What is your long-term goal?

I think that I have a responsible job that fulfils me. I'd like to carry on working here for a while and prove myself. I'd like to do this until I'm 30 and then see where that takes me next. There are always bigger, harder and more complicated projects. I think things will happen of their own accord.


Profile of Julian Gerlach


At Gira since

Electrical Engineering

Career at Gira
Two years as a trainee, Project Management

[As at 2019]