Interview with Sacha Fürer, Head of Tribe Hybrid Integration Provider at Swisscom

Sacha Fürer explains his role as Head of Tribe Hybrid Integration Provider at Swisscom. Find out more about him in his interview.

Can you tell us a bit about your path to becoming Head of Tribe Integration Provider? 

I have been working in the VoIP area for a couple of years and helped to build the Swisscom replacement products for the old telephony system. There I had the opportunity in 2015 to build one of the first medium sized agile organizations of Swisscom. It was a very exiting journey and I learned quite a lot when it comes to transforming an organization from a classical matrix mode of operation into a lean and agile one. When we decided to merge the enterprise application integration and the Swisscom API program into one single DevOps department. I was given the opportunity to unite these very different cultures into a new forward-looking entity.

What does a Head of Tribe Integration Provider do? 

My job is to a very large degree transformation. I’m always working on the future of the organization. What do we need tomorrow? What are the technologies, the skills, the platforms the products the sourcing 2 to 3 years from now? What is our vision? What are the areas of action and what are our priorities? How can we change while maintaining and increasing our output and our quality? How do we incorporate a change momentum into the organization? How do we create a learning organization that reinvents itself as it progresses? In a sense ultimately my job is to make my job redundant? 😉

Can you share with us some insights from your career journey that you learned the hard way? 

True change takes always longer than expected and it needs much more energy and leadership than I was aware of. I like change and transformation by nature. So, I was naïve enough to think the world in general works like that. Which of course it does not. People have their own speed of adoption and that is not a bad thing. They bear responsibility and want to do their job as good as they can. In order to bring them along you need to adopt to the team as well as the team needs to adopt to you as their leader. Bottom line is, I had to put in much more work and patience than I anticipated but I also learned a lot more along the way than I expected.

What is best or worst career advice you ever received? 

That’s a tough one. I don’t think I ever got explicit career advice and certainly not bad one. Maybe reading Machiavellis Il Principe was not the best move to prepare you for a leadership position.

What IT trends are you most interested in? 

Coming from the brown field of legacy IT and new cloud native intermingled, for me the most interesting question right now is how to transform the engineering of a large organization to leverage the cloud as a tool beyond lift and shift. Touching every aspect starting with the placement strategy, the transformation roadmap, the architecture, the tech. stack, the change of the skillset, the sourcing and the tools stack. It’s a huge and complex undertaking that is going to completely change these large IT organizations. In my opinion even more than the agile transformation does.

Is AI an important aspect of your job? 

AI is just completing another hype cycle as it does every decade or so. So, we are realizing that AI is not the silver bullet analysts shouted out it was, but a set of tools optimized to do a particular set of jobs. And that is exactly how we treat it. We investigate in which areas AI might be of use, try them out and keep doing what works. At the moment this is rather low profile but as I said whenever we find something interesting, we keep on investigating. Interesting fields for us are adaptive alarming and malicious use detection.

You’ll give a talk at Swiss Testing Day about enterprise application integration as a service design. Why did you choose this topic?  

Productization as an organizational principle has always fascinated me. I am an amateur student of economics and I’m very interested in the forces that make an economy work. There are some fundamental principles that organize an economy in a decentralized way that simplifies and abstracts an unbelievably complex system of players and interactions. I am convinced that, by applying these principles within our ever more complex corporations we can harness some of the same self-organizing and complexity reduction effects.

By following Jeff Bezos‘ dictum, we started to design and manage everything as a service with the goal to create a highly decoupled but maximally aligned organization. That’s my passion and that’s why I choose this topic.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office? 

I certainly fancy reading the odd book now and then. A little bit of sport. And spending time with my family and friends of course.