As one of the founding members of HICO-Group, former HighCoordination GmbH, Peter Ellerau is a cherished individual within the HICO family. Having spent more than two decades at the company (yes, you read that right), we certainly had a lot to talk about in our conversation.
Peter, born and raised in Hamburg, currently resides in Überlingen with his family. In October of this year, he will be celebrating his twenty-second anniversary at HICO-Group. As you might expect, we were curious to hear more about the origin story of HICO and some memorable events that took place over the years.
“More than two decades ago, my partner at the time and I founded what would be the predecessor of HICO-Group. We were happy to build a company that does great business, first and foremost, but after several years, we saw the need to branch out. At the time, it made sense to divide our business into two parts, BI and CRM,” explains Peter.
Wouldn’t he know it, one of his colleagues right next door, Michael Schwan, would soon become his partner in crime to get HighCoordination off the ground. “It was an amazing feeling to have one of the best employees at the company trust you and join you on this new journey,” says Peter. “Fast forward to today, the company we founded back then has grown into a leader in the BI consulting services market and the proud creator of TRUECHART, our next-gen BI tool.”
Yet, as with all things in life, changes happen. Two years ago, Peter stepped down from his management position at HICO, and as he puts it, “it was a decision that has probably had the biggest impact on my life. I still get to work at HICO and I’m happy to nurture these great relationships but having more freedom to support my family is something I’ve longed for for a very long time.”
This change reminds Peter of last year’s move to a fully remote work environment. It was a dramatic shift due to the pandemic. For Peter, “the pillar of a good relationship is conversation. Especially those talks over coffee, face to face, the small talk right before you dive into more serious topics… That ‘touch’ of ‘being in touch’ with the clients, customers, and partners is truly missing during the corona-crisis,” says Peter.
“In the past, we’d often meet clients in person and handle things on sight. Now, we have to reach a level of flexibility that we never had. But as it turns out, this is a good thing, as it made us rely on our people more and more.”
When it comes to people, it is the one thing Peter feels very strongly about at HICO-Group. “The thing I’m most proud of at HICO is the team spirit and culture we managed to build over the years,” exclaims Peter. “There was a time when things looked very different. Over the years, I think we have really come into our own and built a thriving work culture. You can really ‘feel’ the good vibes.”
Speaking of good vibes, want to join us for a round of some Rapid Fire Questions, Peter?
Okay, it is a game of short questions, short answers. Ready? Set… Go!
What is the most interesting thing you’ve read this week?
“Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon CEO.”
If you could use only one word to describe 2020, what word would it be?
Name someone in your industry you follow, and others should too.
Name someone who inspires you in life and in work.
“Elon Musk and his “can do” spirit. Though I hope I won’t ever become as “crazy” as him. :-)”
What is the biggest challenge in your line of work?
“Helping clients find solutions to burning problems.”
What is your favorite thing to do at work?
“Helping clients find solutions to burning problems. :-)”
What is your least favorite thing to do at work?
“To do repetitive and inefficient tasks.”
What would you say is your most interesting encounter over the years?
“Actually, not many people know this… but I met Ralph Ginzinger by mistake! I contacted a Qlik guy to invite him over to our company. He didn’t accept and then referred me to Ralph. Turns our Ralph was one the biggest W-I-N-S we’ve ever had at HICO! Everything else is history.”
Remote work, yes or no?
“Actually, I found that I like it more than I thought I would. People in my corner really enjoy the flexibility of the modern workplace. I think it will stay this way for a while. I hope so…”
Describe yourself in 3 words.
“Honesty. Integrity. Trust.”
What is one thing about you that people would be surprised to know?
“Maybe that I have four children.”
Would you say you’re more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Work or sleep – which do you do more of nowadays?
“Sleep. But only because I’ve taken a step back a little bit in terms of work.”
Did you pick up any new hobbies since the pandemic started?
“Learning more about decentralized finance and blockchain.”
The biggest change in the pandemic?
“No more business traveling.”
What is your favorite winter activity?
“Traveling throughout Europe with our camper van – if possible again…”
What is your favorite summer activity?
“Traveling throughout Europe with our camper van – so far it was possible during the summer…”
Name one thing you really could NOT live without.
Name one thing you really could live without.
“Immer Ärger mit 40 (This Is 40), Judd Apatow.”
Favorite TV show.
“The Big Bang Theory.”
“No favorite one but the last book I read and liked a lot was “Das Neue Land” by Verena Pausder.”
Most exciting piece of technology.
“Electric cars. I see it clearly as the future of the automotive industry.”
What are you looking forward to the most in 2021?
“To really have a more normal life. To meet more people again and live more freely.”
Share your best piece of advice.
“Happiness is not about getting all you want. It’s about enjoying all you have.”
Name 3 things you’re going to do right after this call.
“Take a break.
Go visit my older daughter – homeschooling. 🙂
Enjoy a warm cup of coffee.”
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