Life at Virtual Forge is multifaceted; our tasks are widely spread between IT, Support and Marketing. We would like to give you a better insight: What does the work day of, e.g. an employee in the Support department look like? Which qualities does one need to become a dual student in our IT department or what do our Sales employees associate with our company?
We have asked our colleagues and will now introduce a new employee to you in our blog series “Life @ Virtual Forge” on a regular basis.
Hi, my name is Sandra Möckel.
What's your life motto?
"Only if you are willing to open up for pain, you can let love inside as well."
Who are you and what do you do at Virtual Forge?
I am Sandra, 47 years old and I have been with Virtual Forge since 2006. My mother is German and my father comes from Ghana. I’m a borderliner, what makes my personal and working life sometimes difficult for me. However, I feel very well supported by the company in this respect.
I have been with Virtual Forge from the very beginning and have gone through all its stages and changes. Over time, I developed an all-rounder. I became very flexible in terms of my job activities. I have a university degree in German philology and sociology, but never worked in these fields before. At Virtual Forge I was doing penetration testing, ABAP programming, consulting and even presales. Now I'm part of the Q&A team.
Beside my 'actual' job, I have been on the voluntary Virtual Forge Works Council for two and a half years. Since the Works Council was founded, I have been active member and was even re-elected last year. It is very important to me that I can influence employee matters at Virtual Forge. This can be a very demanding, sometimes almost overwhelming job, because you get a very deep insight into the personal feelings and matters of your colleagues. Nevertheless, I love what I’m doing as it gives me a good feeling when I can find a solution that eventually satisfies everyone.
What's your job about?
I am currently working in quality assurance for Virtual Forge SystemProfiler. I am responsible for the organization of the test procedures and do test myself. I also work with the general Q&A team to exchange and align information about test procedures.
What can you tell us about your team and the collaboration within Virtual Forge?
Our team is special in a way because I am the only fulltime team member based in Heidelberg. Our team lead and some developers are based in our office in Weimar. We also have external colleagues who support us from Hannover, Czech and Romania. In Heidelberg, there is another employee, but he only works for our team part-time. Due to my foreign teammates, the communication switches between German and English and is limited to Skype or E-Mails. Every now and then, I can work in Weimar for a week. I’m glad I can do that as the personal contact to my teammates there is very important to me.
What's on your schedule today?
At the beginning of each day, I have a short Scrum meeting with my team in which we discuss the results of the last day as well as the upcoming tasks.
Today in particular, everything is unusual. Although the information about Onapsis’s acquiring Virtual Forge was received positively by the colleagues yesterday, there is a noticeable restlessness in the office. Therefore, I’m quite busy today in my role as a works councilor.
Apart from that, my day is about keeping track of the upcoming test tasks, distributing or taking over tests myself. Further, the actual tests contain the creation of test scripts. If I don't write them myself, I check and align them. My main task is to organize the planning of the test phases.
What do you like most about your job here?
The very best thing about my job are my colleagues. I've made a lot of friends at Virtual Forge and we enjoy spending time together after work. It's great that we can maintain and intensify our contacts within the company, whether it's during coffee breaks in small groups, spontaneous barbecue parties on the balcony, or events like the “Friday’s Golf Challenge”, where everyone is always warmly invited.
Work is fun too, but without this fantastic working environment it would only be half as good as it is now.
What is the biggest challenge of your job?
The biggest challenge for my team is long-term planning. Now and then, we receive urgent orders that we cannot refuse. The team needs to drop everything and focus on the new task. Continuing working intensively on further development of our product can become a huge challenge. This obviously causes some frustration, but you learn how to be flexible as well. In the end, it’s all about the customer.
How did you get your job?.
I am an absolute Virtual Forge veteran as I’m with the company since its inception. I have already worked for the previous company and changed seamlessly to the newly founded GmbH in 2006. I couldn't imagine working for another company - maybe because I never worked for another company before. ;-)
How did you experience your time at Virtual Forge so far?
I have witnessed the growth of Virtual Forge from ten to one hundred employees. This development has brought many changes with time. It wasn’t always easy, but I accepted and adopted them. In the beginning, change mostly brings uncertainty among the colleagues. However, I always try to stay away from that.
As a works councilor, it is my responsibility to talk to the upper management in order to restore the calmness again. The past has taught me that change is a great opportunity to improve.
Which qualities should one have for your job?
Ability to work in a team - We are a mixed team with many different characters what makes work very exciting and entertaining. In order to maintain this relaxing working atmosphere, you need collaborative skills when dealing with each. As we are working closely together in small teams, everyone depends on each other. That's why I always say: "Together everyone achieves more!”
Flexibility - Unexpected things will always happen. Due to that, you have to be flexible. However, flexibility also means self-organization. You can organize your working time freely and do home office if needed. You can also take a few more breaks. However, what’s counting in the end is that your work gets done.
Personal initiative - If you have difficulties on a social or professional basis, you have to take action and address problems directly. You can also consult the works council which support will you. However, nothing will happen without such personal initiatives.
Calmness - A certain stoicism is very beneficial. Time and again there are some tough times in the company because we grow quickly and are in a constant state of change. Especially now, facing the transition to a new company, reorganization awaits us. This leads to excitement and discussions among the employees. However, don’t let this bring you down. What can't be changed, should be accepted.
What development prospects are there in your department?
There is no formal development prospect in my field of responsibility.
This is fine for me, because I'm very satisfied with my position and don't aim formally higher. However, I want to make clear that it doesn't mean that I have no further learning potential in my position. Especially in the field of test automation, I will have the opportunity to get more involved in the cross-product test organization in the future.
Generally speaking, the formal promotion opportunities in our company are limited because we have quite flat hierarchies. Every employee should consider whether he wants to strive for such an advancement. Sometimes, it is better to take over more responsibility within the current position. Our content development works mainly according to the 'learning by doing' principle. It is always important to adapt to new situations and systems or to take on new tasks. Because only those who face up to new challenges can have a sense of achievement.What was your highlight at Virtual Forge until now?
My absolute highlight happened many years ago. We were still a small company at that time, and we tried to build up a name in the market. It was an amazing feeling when we got our first big deal - also, because I contributed to this project as well. We worked on this deal for several years and we put a lot of effort into it. When the customer finally signed, I was thrilled.
What do you associate with Virtual Forge?
Virtual Forge is a perfect example that it is worth creating something completely new in a niche market. We've helped raising awareness of cyber security in the SAP environment and we can be very proud of that.
What has been your worst job so far?
I never had a bad job at Virtual Forge. I have accepted every new challenge, adjust and have had good experiences with it.What do you do to keep busy when you're not at Virtual Forge?
For 25 years I have been enjoying spending my time in different subcultures - currently I’m hanging out in the "gothic subculture". I like to be in contact with people who are different. Apart from feeling personally attracted by those people and their environment, I also have a scientific interest in those groups. In my heart I will always stay a sociologist. ;-)
Otherwise, I'm very interested in art. I'm a passionate visitor to art museums and exhibitions. And I also produce my own art like sculptures, collages, assemblages and abstract paintings. I also enjoy reading novels and stories of the 20th and 21st centuries, pieces and poetry but also crime novels. My own novel writing is currently on ice.
In addition, I am enthusiastic about tattoos, what I cannot hide. Every year I add a new work of art to my body. Even here, I have a scientific interest in the history and social meaning of tattoos.
In your opinion, what is the best investment that Virtual Forge has made or should make? (e.g. monetary kind, time or energy)
The decision to go join Onapsis is, in my opinion, the best decision Virtual Forge has been able to make at this time. Onapsis will allow to drive our internationalization and strengthen our global presence. The merger can also help to structure the organization in our company better and define the responsibilities more precisely.
What advice would you give to a student or apprentice in your profession to get ahead? What advice should they ignore?
Our company offers internships and dual studies in development, marketing, sales, inside sales and consulting. I would advise each student to take this opportunity in order to find out their favorite working area. Based on this experience, you can find out which type of education works best for you. Top-Performer will be recognized and never left behind. Virtual Forge offers various concepts of entry opportunities.
On the other hand, I would strongly recommend dealing openly with educational issues, for example if vocational training or studies aren’t going the way you thought they would. Thus, those who address concerns early, make suggestions for alternatives and show motivation, the company will support in finding alternative ways.
Thank you, Sandra!
Should you be interested in the other entries of our blog series 'Life @ Virtual Forge', please refer to the links below:
Leonard Ertel, Student
Simon Skalik, Inside Sales
Constantin Hocke, International Sales
Hella Speidel, Assistant
Christian Fein, Security Consultant
Philip Wulsten, Working Student
Fridolin Hanf, Head of Support
Pouwedeou Tcha-tokey, Support Team
Mariana Lasprilla, Quality Assurance
Markus Heid, Senior DeveloperCecile Elias, Marketing Specialist