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Get to know Markus Stuhr (Vice President Digital Strategy & Customer Experience, Berlin office)
written by Katharina Schlüter
Our UX unit without Markus? Hard to imagine. After all, our passionate designer has been part of the Avenga family for quite some time now: He joined the company as a freelancer in 2008 and has been on board as a permanent staff member since February 2009. Today, as Vice President Digital Strategy & Customer Experience, he heads our UX teams in Cologne and Berlin. Time for a short interview – time for seven questions to our Avenga colleague!
Markus, which tasks and topics totally absorb you?
I actually like the variety of my job as I have to deal with completely different topics all the time. The team, especially, is great fun and I spend a lot of time talking to people, developing ideas, giving feedback, and always trying to make everything that bit better. Then we have the project acquisition and setup, which I find really exciting, as, especially at the beginning, you can tweak a lot and, to a great extent, influence the possible direction of a project. I also, though, need to be right in the middle of some of the projects … creating the layouts myself and negotiating with the developers. If you’re simply a manager, people often come to you with problems and keep the good things to themselves as these are already functioning, which is a bit mean.
Please add on: An inspiring user experience …
… meets the expectations of the users. This may sound banal at first, but it’s a joy when things work exactly the way you imagine a user would like them to. This is the basis, from which you can add effects, surprises and fancy toys to enthuse. The UX topic becomes complex because not all users expect the same thing …
What distinguishes the Avenga UX team from others?
I’d say we are quite a nerdy group and more specialized in the complicated UX topics. We’re really good when things are complex. For us, it’s not about landing pages. We often start straight after login – there where people are really active on the Internet, and not just consuming information. Good usability is not just “nice”, but is really crucial. Our designers are at eye level with our frontend developers and are very well-established. This is how we ensure that much of what we design can be implemented in exactly the same way – unlike what other agencies might do.
Please reveal three things which motivate you at work!
A) When you notice the people who are working for us really enjoy their job. I couldn’t work anywhere where there’s not a lot of laughter.
B) The feeling of being able to really change and move things. At Avenga, it’s always been worth it for me to get involved in topics and stand up for things that are important to me. This is essential and I wouldn’t want to go without it.
C) And what really motivates me: A good project atmosphere and when a really meaningful interpersonal level is created between the different parties … good cooperation where nobody has to disguise themselves or put up a front. I remember, once standing together with a few people during a workshop break, talking and laughing about all kinds of things, when suddenly one of the customers beamed and said: “At long last, normal people!” Things like this motivate me.
If you hadn’t become a designer, then…
… I would probably be a developer or teacher today, although I‘m very glad I didn’t become either. I’ve always been very interested in technology and had my own computer super early on. At school, I took math and physics as advanced courses. And during my studies, I worked as a private tutor on the side. I‘ve always done a lot of drawing and photography as well. For a while, I was also keen on graffiti. I have a feeling that in my current job, almost all these interests are playing a role again, and very often, just having these different experiences have furthered me.
Heroes, role models, influencers: Whom would you like to meet personally?
To be honest, professionally, I don’t have many – in fact, none at all. Well, I’m probably an Apple fanboy and I like what Elon Musk does, but I’ve never been one to know which great new agencies are hip or the names of cool designers. Now you can look at this as a bug or as a feature… I’ve always considered it an advantage, as this way you avoid orienting yourself too much on others and instead consider what’s best for you.
Dots or stripes?
Stripes. So in terms of patterns or abstract art … I would probably hang up a striped painting rather than one with dots. For clothes, I would probably prefer stripes to dots, even though I don’t wear either of them very much. But I definitely like striped bobble hats!