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Specialist with an eye for the big picture

INTERVIEW WITH DR STEFAN PEES, HEAD OF SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT LAST UPDATED: 2014

Dr. Stefan Pees is head of Software Development IP at Gira. He has built up the division since he started at Gira in 2010 and was therefore able to develop and define his area of activity himself. He especially appreciates the creative freedom offered by his position at Gira. In addition to electrical engineering, he also studied philosophy. This formed his understanding of the bigger picture. He looks beyond the "here and now" and always keeps an eye on the visions for tomorrow.

Topics in this article


New technologies


Development of new tasks


Scope for creativity

What is the task of the head of Software Development IP at Gira?

SP: I am responsible for the process of software development, which is necessary in order to realise products or their components. I set up the project teams for this. We realise most software jointly with external providers. Sometimes, we have projects involving five or six different companies or teams. It is important that people are able to work well together. We need specialists with the appropriate qualifications and who also work in a team-oriented manner, who therefore also fits in well with us socially. I am also responsible for providing the complex infrastructure for the projects. This is because the work results from the various teams must be collated at a central location and be reproducible. Finally, there is also the whole topic of test management. I am committed to ensuring that we have uniform standards for testing software. Last but not least, I am in charge of technical development and building skills at Gira.

Why is the field of software development so important for Gira?

SP: The reason for this is that interface design is becoming increasingly important to many Gira products. Our particular differentiation from the competition becomes apparent through the combination of design and function. Traditionally, attempts were made, by the careful selection of materials, shapes and their design, to present the function as coherently as possible as part of the product design. In the field of software, the design surface for the mechanical design is pushed back further and further. This is easy to imagine using the smartphone as an example. There is a desire to keep the interface, the user interface, as big as possible, and the device itself, apart from the display, only exists at the edge. So when we talk about differentiation and the competition, then it is increasingly a question of what can be seen on the displays. Software is therefore of great importance for us, because it is the medium with which we create our interface design. Good interface design offers the chance to appeal to users on an emotional level. It should become something that is fun to use. We are trying to use it to communicate the joys of building automation.


In his free time, Dr Stefan Pees often plays his guitar – preferably together with his son.


You have been at the company since 2010. Why did you say back then: I am going to Gira?

I was impressed by the way in which Gira conducted the informal conversation, the interviews. There was a good atmosphere and a binding nature of the statements. What's more, the experiences were completely different to those I had with listed companies. Now there was the prospect of a family company and the corresponding stability, which was very important for me. A decisive factor for me was also the expectation of considerable design freedom.

You were also given this. You were allowed to develop your area of activity at Gira from scratch. What does this mean for you?

This was actually one of the main reasons for joining Gira. The way in which we have begun the process here shows a big leap of faith. I was given a great deal of design freedom to set up and establish this area. I feel very well supported all round. Here, I was given the opportunity to build up employees, who now hold positions of great responsibility, and also coordinate them and control projects technically. One of the strengths of a family company is that corporate management is much more independent in its decisions. Gira also thinks in terms of the long term and we are in a position to actually implement necessary investments such as building up the workforce.


Whether computer language or sheet music – Dr Stefan Pees feels at home in different worlds and systems.


What has changed in structural terms at Gira due to the software area?

We have started to set up an in-house team of software architects. What's new is that these software architects go into the projects and support our external development partners, tell them which quality requirements and which conceptual expectations we have and which visions we want to realise in the long-term beyond the scope of the project. This was the first step. And now we're taking more. We are investing in our own software development, our own teams. We can only develop long-term visions in-house, i.e. with our own employees, who are also integrated in the mindset here in the company. In the long term we can then implement our ideas ourselves. This is important as an increasing number of functions are realised via electronics and software. Our investments in software development have therefore increased significantly.

You describe yourself as an optimist. To what extent does this influence you in your actions or decisions?

I certainly tend to always see what is possible, to see the good. In the face of all adversities I try to keep an eye on whatever helps us to achieve our goal. I try not to lose sight of a vision. It is important to me to always reflect, with a detailed solution or a pragmatic immediate solution: What will it be like in two or five years? This is also sometimes tiring for my colleagues because I always rub against issues that cannot be solved yet in their present form. My wish is to always take the first step, to move us a little further in this direction, and to activate the energy and creative potential that help us to think ahead.

In addition to electrical engineering, you also studied philosophy. Is this where the special eye for the big picture comes from? To what extent does this shape you?

Philosophy is a science of thinking about the why. Ultimately, everything has an impact on me. It certainly shapes my ethos and my self-image of how I interact with my colleagues and employees. I am aware that I am dealing with people who will be on this planet for perhaps around 80 years and who will spend part of their lifetime in this company. It is important that we as people create companies that are also good for us people, and don't only develop people that are good for companies.

PROFILE OF DR STEFAN PEES


Born
1968

At Gira since
2010

Career
As part of his doctorate he spent several research periods in the US and developed a computer language which is used worldwide by numerous microprocessor design teams.

Career at Gira
He has been head of Software Development IP at Gira since 2010.

[Last updated: 2014]


Further information