Typical 24: Mathias Golombek, EXASOL

What do working professionals really do all day?

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…


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Mathias Golombek

Job title:  CTO

Company: EXASOL

Location: Nuremberg, Germany

Years’ experience: 12


  1. What time do you reach the office each day?
    I typically get into the office between 8:30 and 9:00, which gives me enough time to help my children get ready for school, check my emails and do some sport such as running or swimming – that is unless I find an excuse not to do some exercise…
  2. Is your job varied?
    Yes, and that’s one of the things I appreciate about my job. At university, I thought I would work for a large corporation. But I ended up working for a start-up with just 20 employees. This was perhaps the best decision I made, because you can learn, participate and grow in so many different areas. Although I started out as a software developer, I was always keen to learn about other parts of the business, such as creating a solid marketing message, discussing product pricing models or visiting prospects to convince them to buy our solutions. A small company’s success relies on people who assume responsibility for many things. And given that EXASOL has grown incredibly well in what has proven to be a fast-changing market, I have been able to learn so many things that perhaps I would not have learned, had I indeed worked at a large corporation.
  3. Is your job creative?
    I think management in general requires a lot of creativity; you can’t just read a book about the rules of management and then apply them. Managing a product, a team or a company is a challenge and every day, there are always issues that pop up that call for creative thinking and creative solutions. And the market of big data analytics is a constantly evolving area where complex problems need to be solved in creative ways.
  4. What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
    One of the most important things is talking with people. EXASOL is a great place to work and we have extremely smart and motivated people in the business. There is no politics involved, and so I really enjoy every discussion since I know that everybody wants to solve issues the best way possible. The number one priority of a manager is to communicate, explain and understand, and it is through having such discussions that this is done.
    The other important part is processing information. Analysing data, reading articles and emails, thinking about strategic issues and how best to organize our teams. I spend a lot of my time creating and reviewing product roadmaps and strategy papers.  And last but not least, I always make sure I have time in my busy calendar to play table football with my colleagues.
  5. Do you personalise your desk?
    My desk is pretty clean and organized, with only a few notes that list my current top priorities. But I do have a few personal items on my desk including family photos or books that help me in my job and that I love to re-read.
  6. Would you describe yourself as creative?
    I don’t think that I am a creative person in the original sense.  However, I can become creative when talking to a colleague by deriving value from a certain conversation.  What’s more, I have put forward some creative ways of how we can market and create awareness for the company.  A lot of it has been trial-and-error, but it’s always fun to try and think how to do things differently.
  7. Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
    Not really, except perhaps the fact that I can’t seem to pass by the bakery next to the office without purchasing a freshly-baked pain au chocolat.
  8. Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
    It’s a mix of both. I prefer working in a team, such as discussing solutions with my colleagues who have great ideas. But sometimes it is necessary to have some alone time to think things through.
  9. How many hours on average do you work a day?
    That’s hard to say. The average number of hours in the office is 8-9 hours, but I tend to think often about work during the evening at home and at weekends. There have been a few times where I have had to take a lot of work home with me, but this has since become better.
  10. Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
    It’s hard to give specific details since every day is different. What I can say for certain is that we don’t spend a lot of time in meetings as some of them historically consumed too much time and there was little gained as a result.  So instead, we tend to have continuous and spontaneous discussions as and when we need to.
  11. Do you use social media much for work?
    Funnily enough, I was a very shy person and didn’t participate in social networks at all, neither privately nor professionally. But over the last two years I have found out how effective and cost-efficient social media activities can be. And for a small company like EXASOL, it is a great way to take our exciting story into the market without large advertising budgets.  Funnily enough, I am so active on social media that my colleagues have jokingly nicknamed me EXASOL’s social media whizz-kid!
  12. What do you enjoy most about your work?
    I am in my twelfth year at EXASOL and no day goes by where I don’t enjoy what I do. I think this is the most precious goal you can aim for when selecting a job. The reason I like what I do is very much down to the mix of a smart motivated team, one of the most exciting technologies in the software market and the very interesting growth rate that EXASOL continues to enjoy.
  13. What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
    That very much depends on my mood and can vary between R&B (e.g. Beyoncé), soul (e.g. Amy Winehouse), hip hop (e.g. the German band Fanta4), pop (e.g. Adele) and funk (e.g. James Brown). But at work, I don’t listen to music at all.
  14. What do you do for lunch?
    I tend to eat well in the evening, so I don’t really do lunch. I get by on fruit and snacks that we offer our colleagues in our large kitchen, and some small snacks from the bakery next door to the office.
  15. Do you socialise with work colleagues?
    I regard my colleagues as close friends, almost family, especially when you consider that we sometimes spend more time together at work than I do at home with my family.  Therefore, I think it is important and natural that colleagues get to know each other on a personal level, too. There are occasions where we celebrate together; over the years I have been invited to many birthday parties and weddings.
    And of course, we all get together at Christmas time to party and let our hair down until the wee small hours.
  16. Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
    Yes, the kitchen rota. Previously, every colleague took it in turns to clean up and put dirty crockery in the dishwasher, and when it was my week, there was always more mess than normal which I had to clean up. Someone would have celebrated their birthday and there would be cake crumbs all over the place. Thankfully, we now have an external service that helps keep the kitchen area tidy!
  17. What is your last task of your day?
    I always try to tidy up my email inbox. The idea being that I can then start the next day without any open tasks from the day before. That’s why I tend to look at my email in the evenings, at weekends or even on holiday. Many think that doing so eats into your personal life, but for me it’s no big burden at all.
  18. How do you like to relax after work?
    I enjoy eating good food together with my family. My wife and children wait for me to come home and then we all sit at the table together and discuss everyone’s day. It’s so important to have family time together. Otherwise, a glass of red wine, a good book or a Netflix series can be very relaxing, too.
  19. Do you keep checking email through the evening?
    As I mentioned before, I will always admit to doing that. There is an ongoing discussion at work about whether it’s a good or bad thing and whether it can be expected by the company. Suffice it to say however that nobody tells me to do it and I don’t expect others to check their email at night or at the weekend. It’s just the way I work best; I just enjoy starting a work day without any huge backlog of email in my inbox.
  20. Do you take work projects home with you?
    I reply to emails and am active on social media, and I often think about company things. Apart from that, I don’t really take any work home with me. If it is something that requires more than a moment’s concentration, I’ll leave it until the next day.
    In my opinion, taking work home with you should be the exception and not the rule.  Those managers who say that they work 80-hour weeks are, in my opinion, just not able to delegate tasks or trust their employees to do things.  Plus, working such long hours is no help; nothing is better than relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep and starting the next day with a fresh outlook.
  21. What would you say to your 20-year old self?
    Just relax more and enjoy things more rather than just concentrating on the serious things in life. They’ll become dominant early enough anyway.
  22. If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
    I love my job and role at EXASOL, so that’s enough for me!
  23. What device did you use to answer these questions?
    I used both my computer in my office and then my MacBook while sitting a hotel waiting to go to a customer meeting.
  24. Do you use your own personal device for work?
    I have enough company devices around me, so there’s no need to use personal devices at work.