Interview with Mr. Walter Middeldorf – 1995-1999 Managing Director of Intergraph, GmbH
It’s a pleasure to interview you, Mr. Middeldorf. You have been a managing partner of the QRC Group AG, a recruitment consulting company with 90 employees, since 2001. That was definitely a remarkable step to take, considering the career path you were on previously. What brought you to recruitment consulting?
The majority of my professional career was focused on business travel and chasing one appointment after another. Although it was fascinating and exciting, over the years the desire to experience the rewards of self-employment grew in me. In my last professional positions, the lack of skilled personnel was becoming increasingly evident. These experiences with staffing shortages confirmed my determination to go out on my own in order to use my management experience in a profitable way in recruitment and corporate consulting. I was right in following this path, which is simply fascinating and exciting. It offers such a variety that even today I continue to learn new things from clients and candidates. As in the past, I continue to work with people frequently. I meet new people and old acquaintances and can expand my horizons with every new assignment.
If you were to be asked by someone from the former Intergraph / Unigraphics / Siemens Industry companies what you still remember about Intergraph, how would you respond?
I would welcome the opportunity to tell this brief story:
Several of you will still remember the creative working title from Intergraph headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama for the CAD software Solid Edge, which was “Jupiter Technology”. A captive balloon with “Jupiter Technology” written on it was specifically created for it and was used to take clients and employees on rides over the Alps. I had the pleasure of taking just such a ride with clients in the winter when there was absolutely no wind and we could enjoy the beautiful sunshine and view the ant-size skiers at the various skiing areas below us. It was a great experience, and the people who were on the ride still talk about it to this day.
Then at some point the entire technology was sold to Unigraphics, which in turn sold it to EDS. In the end, EDS was taken over by Siemens Industry.
After that, our team’s focus was on:
- filling sales positions
- filling sales-related positions
- filling CAD/CAM consultant positions
- setting up and expanding medium-size companies
How has the CAD/CAM market changed since your time at Intergraph?
At that time finding skilled employees was not much of a problem. It was strictly a CAD licensing business in which good sales personnel could be successful without having in-depth CAD knowledge. The subject matter became more complex over time. The requirements increased with the introduction of PDM technologies and PLM infrastructures. The business, which was focused strictly on licensing, grew into a business focused on selling solutions with completely new challenges for sales, consulting, system builders and manufacturers.
Why is your focus on the CAx/PLM market?
That’s easy. For years there have not been enough personnel to meet the demands of the market. Many years ago we had a similar situation with SAP. It took years before there were enough skilled personnel who specialized in this field. We are experiencing the same situation today with CAx and PLM. Even in this case there is currently no solution in sight. It is rather to be expected that the people who are “old hands” in this field are taking their well-deserved retirement, and there is currently no one to replace them. This affects not only the manufacturers and their partners, but also their end customers, who are all desperately looking for qualified personnel.
Sales personnel are particularly difficult to find and to train. Few design engineers possess the necessary affinity for sales and few sales specialists have enough technical expertise to understand customer demands and to implement them in projects.
How can your company help solve this problem?
The market responds naturally to this problem. Many training programs are offered by manufacturers and system builders to attract skilled personnel. The market also welcomes the establishment of certification training programs, such as the ProSTEP iViP Symposium programs provided by the Frauenhofer Institute and recommended by PDM/PLM consultants. However, in the short term these programs do not offer any relief in the market for skilled personnel.
This is where the classic recruitment consultant comes in. One of our tasks is to help answer these questions: “How can I find my personnel in a timely manner and how do I gain long-term loyalty to make it a profitable investment for my company?”
Coordinated models in a partner network would also be an option. In the end, I would like to work with my clients to develop proactive approaches in order to give them a competitive advantage.
What would you like convey to readers of this interview, and how do you go about your initial interview with potential clients?
First and foremost in any case, I would greet him or her in a friendly manner. Then, if the occasion presented itself, I would give him or her the opportunity to discuss the past and present market conditions.
At this (free) initial meeting, my conversation partner will determine very quickly whether we speak the same (professional) language. I may be able to point out perspectives that are new to some of them. In the end, it is primarily not only about personnel issues, but also about the short and medium term structural development and expansion of the company. Since I have always been able to successfully set up and manage sales teams and country-based organizations during my career, I believe it is possible to provide valuable impetus to the most varied of assignments.