Company & Culture

We are avodaq: Michi & Ronny in conversation

Their personal journey from trainee to manager


12. Dec 2023 | 4 min.

Michael Robertz und Ronny Stein beim Interview

Michi, Ronny, great to have you here! Why don’t you start by telling us two or three sentences about yourselves?

Michi: I’m Michael Robertz, also called Michi, I’m 36 years old and have been with avodaq for 12 years. I work as a Senior IT Consultant in the Enterprise Networking department and have been a teamlead since the beginning of the year. I joined avodaq as a trainee. I also moved to Hamburg from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the trainee programme, as I had completed my training as an IT System Engineer there. The original plan was that I would be based in Frankfurt after the six-month programme. But I just liked Hamburg so much, not least because I was able to make connections very quickly during the trainee programme.

Ronny: I am Ronny Stein, 35 years old and for the past two months I have been responsible for the entire avodaq collaboration team in my new role as Collaboration Manager. I previously worked as a Senior Consultant in this area for many years. I actually come from the Spreewald. Exactly, the pickles. Ronny laughs. I completed my training as an IT specialist in system integration in Hamburg. I had my first computer when I was 14, and I mainly used to play games. I also found everything around it exciting. I’d say we were both nerds from the very beginning.

You two are usually seen in a duo at avodaq. How did you two originally meet?

Ronny: Yes, we got to know each other on that trainee programme. There were four of us at the time. I wanted to get to know something new after my education, with more practical relevance. I didn’t know avodaq beforehand, but I was familiar with Cisco from technical school. The focus of the programme and the company in general was on collaboration and networking. I was still living in Lüneburg at the time, the other three trainees in a shared flat in Hamburg. But we spent a lot of time together. Also with many colleagues who are still there today. They also travelled with us from time to time, initially showing us around Hamburg and the bars.

Michi und Ronny auf ihrem Business-Tripp zur Cisco Live in Las Vegas
Michi (left) and Ronny (right) at the Cisco Live in Las Vegas.

Michi: The group harmony was great. Everyone really enjoyed it. We also worked together at the weekend because we simply enjoyed it. After the trainee programme, we started working on our own projects. In the beginning, we were involved wherever we were needed – across all technologies. Right at the beginning, there were big projects with roll-outs. We travelled around the country with them. We really had a lot of fun.


In terms of subject matter, you went your separate ways at some point… But you both had exciting careers at avodaq. I would love to talk to you about your different paths.

Ronny, you once said that your heart has always beaten for collaboration. What fascinates you about it?

Ronny: Yes, that’s true . At least for quite a long time. It was a bit of a coincidence, I would say. Or rather the project situation. As Michi said, in the beginning we worked across all technologies and provided support where it was needed. Then came some projects in the area of collaboration that were more specific than the previous ones. I was quite open and wanted to learn about the technology. It was a lot of on-the-job training. We were in the office and also spent a lot of time at the customer’s office. Working from home didn’t even exist back then. We had a lot of new customers in that area at the time and I was then only in the collaboration area for over a year. And at some point you have to specialise.

And you, Michi, have decided to focus on Enterprise Networking. At the same time, however, you have been a mentor for our new trainees for several years. What is it like for you to be on the “other side” now?

Michi: The networking sector has always fascinated me. In the beginning it was all hands-on – watching, wiring, configuring. Gradually, I took on more and more responsibility. I then also took over the planning, which was the transition to becoming a consultant. You get involved in the projects earlier. And because my colleagues were in the office, we were able to learn a lot very quickly. We were able to hear the technical flow directly. And, of course, we were able to network faster than we do today in the home office.

Michi und die Trainees im Jahr 2021
Michi and the trainees in 2021

I grew into the role of mentor for our trainee programme. In 2017, I was a trainer for Routing & Switching for the first time. In 2021, I slowly got involved in the planning of the trainee programme and last year I took over the complete supervision of the programme.

The planning takes up a lot of time, I have to say. But it’s also great fun to see how the new colleagues develop and outgrow themselves. It’s an intensive but also exciting time.

You’ve been with the company for 12 years and now both lead your own team. Has the work in IT changed for you and if so, to what extent?

Ronny: The biggest change is the way we work. We used to spend days and sometimes even weekends at the customer’s or our own offices. Today it’s a good mix of office and home office days.

Michi: We have actually only experienced some customers remotely so far. We are now mainly in video conferences. Otherwise, the network sector was relatively static for a long time, but topics such as automation and software-defined networking are also giving rise to new approaches here too. IT has always been very fast-moving. A network today is not the same as it was ten years ago.

Ronny: Yes, as an IT specialist you know that everything is always changing and you have to rethink. Software and hardware are changing, becoming faster and more powerful. Further training is our daily business. You have to keep developing and, as an IT consultant, keep up with every new technology. And, of course, you also have to do a lot of certifications, for example from our partner Cisco. There are always new products or products that change, so you have to stay up to date.

Michi: Yes, as Ronny says, further training is the key. And you also have a certain amount of personal responsibility and have to be passionate about it. Working remotely means that we now look after a completely different number of customers in one day. It’s very demanding – you have to be prepared for every appointment and be able to switch quickly.

And what was it like for you to go from being a colleague to a supervisor? Did that change anything?

Michi: Previously, I only had purely technical responsibility, but now I also have personal responsibility. I am currently looking after colleagues who have taken part in the trainee programmes in recent years. That’s great because we already know each other well. The mentoring role on the trainee programme was definitely a very good challenge for me.

avodaq Führungskräfteentwicklung - ein Gruppenfoto der Teilnehmenden beim Ready to Lead Seminar
Management training at avodaq

Ronny: New Team Lead positions were created in 2019. I chose a niche and applied for it. I initially had two team members, which was a pleasant start. Later on, we organised ourselves differently and colleagues who had been my mentors in the past joined my team. That was a bit unusual, but everyone welcomed me into the role, which made it much easier. Our in-house training programme for managers was also helpful (editor’s note: this refers to our award-winning personnel development programme Ready to Lead, which is aimed specifically at our managers).

What drives you every day? Why have you stayed with us/avodaq ever since?

Michi: One applies when something is missing.

Ronny: But if you don’t miss anything and you can develop yourself further, why should you necessarily change? avodaq offers many benefits and is it always better somewhere else? Personally, I don’t see myself anywhere else. I know the people here, I have my circle – we’ve grown together. We look forward to seeing each other, we have enough freedom.

Michi: We have built up a strong relationship of trust over time. And personal meetings are also extremely important, such as the all avodaq day.

Ronny: Exactly, the all avodaq day, our first working day back then was our annual company event. We sailed around in the Alster canoe, completely overdressed of course. Ronny laughs. But it’s not just events. Flexibility and standing are important, as is an open feedback culture and being praised from time to time. You can definitely feel at comfortable at avodaq.

„Flexibility and standing are important, as is an open feedback culture and being praised from time to time. You can definitely feel at comfortable at avodaq.“

Ronny Stein

You have already experienced a lot together at avodaq. What were the most formative moments for you? What will you always remember?

Das avodaq Team beim Firmenevent in der Türkei
The all avodaq Day in Turkey

Michi: Definitely the all avodaq day in Turkey. That was a real highlight.

Ronny: Yes, the all avodaq Day events are definitely unforgettable. Just like the annual Networkers Event. (Editor’s note: Networkers is an event for internal knowledge transfer and networking specifically for our technical departments.)

Michi: I remember it very well. We started at avodaq in 2011 and in 2015 we had to give our first presentation at Networkers. It was always the old pros on stage, the technical gurus, and now it was us. I talked about Instant Access and Ronny about Meraki. Michi laughs.

But also some projects that we rocked together. Project changes that were great fun and brought us together technically.

Michi und Ronny bei ihrem gemeinsamen Vortrag auf der Networkers

Ronny: Or the first time together on stage at Networkers last year. We reported about our trip to Cisco Live in Las Vegas. It was a bit like talking about our holiday. Like an old married couple. Really funny. This business trip together was also special. Trips like this bond and are definitely memorable.

Michi: But it’s also the many little moments – after all, you spend around a third of your life at work. For example, eating pizza together with Andreas (editor’s note: meaning Andreas Kusch, avodaq CEO). It’s nice to get together like that. It was also just a lucky coincidence that the first job was such a good fit.

„It was also just a lucky coincidence that the first job was such a good fit.“

Michi Robertz

What else connects you beyond your shared passion for IT topics?

Ronny und Michi beim Interview in der Kaffeelounge

Michi: We discovered bouldering back then and we are both passionate about travelling. We went on a road trip through Europe, travelled America and spent skiing holidays together. In Barcelona, we got the sunburn of our lives and lay flat with chills. We just wanted to use the last day to get a tan… Really rational. Well, it turned out lobster red. Michi laughs.

Ronny: And we are also both IT enthusiasts in our private lives and like to spend time playing video games together after work. And we have a very similar sense of humour and laugh about the same things. We had a cool connection right from the start.

You two, it was fun! Thanks for your insight, sounds like a great time together. We look forward to many more years with you two at avodaq.