An inspiring interview with Christina and Tori from Uniper
We interviewed two Product Owners, Christina and Tori, from one of our clients, Uniper, a gas and power wholesale company based in Düsseldorf, Germany. Together, it-economics and Uniper partner on multiple projects with the goal of processing all calculations for major customers of the Uniper Group through a central backend system. The IPL tool that we work on forecast energy consumption based on historical data. And it-economics offers as consulting services.
After many years of working closely with it-economics, we had the opportunity to welcome them to our Sofia Office in the NV Tower. We were eager to learn about our partnership between Uniper and it-economics, what their thoughts were about it-e, and how our teams functioned together. There was no better way to uncover the answers to these and many other intriguing questions than by taking the opportunity to casually interview our clients.
How would you describe the working environment here in Bulgaria?
Oh, the working atmosphere here is very relaxed, and I absolutely love the spirit. The people here are incredibly welcoming. The office space is quite impressive, and the panoramic view is a bonus. I absolutely enjoyed my time here.
Moreover, people are helping each other. Technical challenges are openly discussed among a group, so that the decision-making is more straightforward afterwards. Having a sparring partner is something I appreciate here, as it offers fresh perspectives. I feel that everyone is well-connected, and it’s very easy to communicate with each other here at the same level.
How did the visit change your team’s dynamics for the better?
The visit had a significant impact on our team dynamics. Being in the same physical space enhances communication. Looking at the same screen and having a reason to block our calendars for in-person discussions is very effective. It’s almost like team building because meeting people face-to-face, beyond the limits of screens, allows us to engage in casual conversations and bond. Meeting in the coffee kitchen or having lunch together deepens our relationships and helps us understand our colleagues gets your mind on something else than just work and you get to know your teammates.
Did you learn anything new about your colleagues when meeting them face to face?
Before coming here we had like a media break in between. Meeting in person allowed us to break away from the usual work topics and delve into more personal conversations. We bonded a lot. This connection is a strong foundation for our future working relationship despite the media break gaps due to remote work.
Do you have any practices or tips that work exceptionally well for your team and could be valuable for others? And how do you achieve good focus in such dynamic environment?
Before and after our daily activities, we perform a ‘spirit fingers’ ritual to set a positive mood and stay focused. It’s a great way to enjoy work and do it effectively and I think that’s something others should take over. It really helps us to have fun at work and to do things right at the same time. In such a dynamic environment, taking short breaks, going for a walk, and gaining a bird’s-eye view help immediately get into this focus flow.
As a Product Owner with a busy schedule, how do you manage your day and coordinate with different teams?
Having colleagues you enjoy working with is crucial. Additionally, note-taking, is one of the best inventions. Digitizing on an iPad is incredibly useful for documentation and sharing information. When communicating with developers, Slack is a convenient tool, but nothing beats a good old-fashioned call.
Did you have the chance to explore Sofia, and what are your impressions of the city?
We had a great evening exploring Sofia, and then were at a lovely restaurant with authentic food from Bulgaria. I loved it! I particularly enjoyed the spicy peppers. I really like the spirit here as well. It’s so easy going. It reminded me a little bit of Berlin, my favorite city, to be honest. Because I see lots of different people, different characters, different styles. Like a melting pot in here and good weather is a plus.
It’s quite nice – the restaurants, cafes, little shops, and some impressive architecture. It’s a young city, teeming with students.
Did you have any idea of what Bulgaria looks like or how the people are like before coming here?
I had previously been to Varna, so I had a glimpse of Bulgaria, but Sofia offered a different experience. Big city feeling, but at the same time, easy going, not stressed out. You still have lots of nature and lots of trees, lots of plants in general.
I got a lot of insights about Bulgarian tradition because every time the Bulgarian colleagues have a day off that we don’t have in Germany, I ask them afterwards what tradition they have. That is how I’ve learned about Bulgarian traditions, like “Baba Marta”, and it’s been a fascinating cultural experience.
What advice would you give to someone from Germany before visiting Bulgaria?
Be prepared for meals with pepper, tomatoes, and onions— it’s a basis. Also, know that card payments are widely accepted, so there’s no need to carry cash. Beyond that, embrace the freedom and enjoy your time here.
A helpful tip I learned from a colleague here is how to use the metro with a credit card.
Any final thoughts?
Sofia has been a wonderful experience for me after having me here and welcoming me here that well. I would always like to come back!
Thank you, Tori and Christina, for sitting down with us and sharing these insightful discussions!
We are delighted that you enjoyed your stay in Sofia, and you are always welcome to join us in our office! 😊