What does a … Solutions Manager do?

Job Title: Senior Solutions Manager

Name: Richard Hawthornthwaite

Education: Computer Science

Company: Bundesdruckerei GmbH

What do you do?

In short, designing solutions that delight customers. After all, what use are the most beautiful products and solutions if they bring nothing to any customer and no one buys them? It’s about satisfying customer needs today and especially tomorrow. So the right product at the right time at the right price, so that the customer decides again in the future for our solutions.

As Solutions Manager, I accompany and guide the entire process around a solution or a product: I analyze the market, evaluate the competitors and go to trade fairs and forums, meet customers and exchange ideas with them – it is important to me to have new ideas that make our solutions special and unique. Then we build products and solutions with the development team, launch them, operate and maintain them.

How did you come to this task?

I was born and raised in England. During my study of computer science, I fell in love with a foreign year in Konstanz in the country and people. That’s how I started as a software developer after studying at Siemens and later worked as a project manager. It was particularly about industry-related software solutions that were very individually adapted to the needs of each customer, such as mail sorting. For two years I led a project at the New Zealand Post in Wellington. After that, I spent several years as an independent consultant and project manager, increasingly for IT security topics such as e-mail encryption. In the autumn of 2016, I came across these topics in the marketing of Bundesdruckerei.

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Which property helps you the most in your professional life? And why?

As a parent property: above all, openness. The IT world is changing so fast, as one should be surprised as a trained computer scientist again and again of new trends and not too quickly rejected as nonsense. In a nutshell: a supposed hype turns into an iPhone often enough. In addition, I often have to be able to build consensus between all those involved, so I need good communication skills. As a solutions manager I am at the center of people with different interests.

I have to take these interests into account, if possible take all participants, listen to everyone. Sometimes I have to say “no” politely. It is important to always have the long-term vision of the solution in mind, and not to sacrifice it for short-term success. In addition, I need analytical skills, in particular to observe and assess the market and develop business plans. And, of course, good project management is important to keep all the threads together, as well as a deep technical understanding, as we are dealing with complex software solutions.

What is most important about your job? What do you enjoy most?

In my role as Solutions Manager, I especially like the bridging function between external customer needs and internal implementation or development. I have the opportunities and freedoms to actively shape and build solutions. It’s nice to see such solutions later in action.

Please describe a project that really impressed you.

First of all, I can identify myself very well as a computer scientist with IT security issues. Security and trust are ultimately the basis for digitization. Secure identities have always been a central theme of Bundesdruckerei; formerly analog and today increasingly digital. The point is, in a transaction, are those involved actually the ones they impersonate – and may they do what they do?

For over three months, I have been involved in the launch of a new – ultimately blockchain – technology of our innovation department for self-determined identity and rights management. The topic may sound a bit drunk for many at first, but is actually very exciting and has gained in importance in the past few years and months, especially by the General Data Protection Regulation. The new approach alone gives the user control over their digital permissions, such as access to specific documents or data. He can also pass on or withdraw authority to others.

My job is indispensable because …

… as a Solutions Manager I am a kind of hub between the external market needs and the internal implementation. I have the opportunity, but also the responsibility, to shape and implement this process – all in the context of a long-term vision of where we want to go.

If you were not Solutions Manager, what would you be?

Then I would offer bike rides through the Alps again. During my time in Konstanz, I got to know and love cycling in the mountains. For a few years, I also had an agency that organized, designed and carried out such tours.

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