Interview with Jennifer Bodenseh,
CFO of init

>> Ms Bodenseh, you were appointed to the Managing Board in the autumn of 2018. How has the transition to your new role been?

Like many of our employees, I have worked for init for many years. As we had planned the change for some time, my appointment did not come as a surprise. In this respect – and thanks to the great support that I have received – I feel well prepared to dedicate myself to the well-being of the company and to facing new challenges.

>> What areas will you focus on?

My objectives tie in seamlessly with those of my predecessors: for example, we are currently examining how to increase the efficiency and transparency of our internal processes. In particular, in the wake of init’s strong growth in recent years, we are considering whether and to what extent they are still suitable for us in their current form or if they need to be optimised. Moreover, in early 2019, we developed a strategy for medium-term financial planning in order to support and secure the strategically planned growth of init.

>> How would you summarise the trend in financial year 2018 from your own perspective?

We have improved in the growth areas of e-ticketing and e-mobility and are in a good position for future growth through innovations and acquisitions. This has led to a new record figure for incoming orders. Among others, we were able to win the biggest order in our company history in Seattle.

However, this does mean we have had to make a record level of investment. And this has burdened our result. So, our primary aim is now to convert the investments into increased profit in the long term.

>> How does init benefit by creating a new subsidiary in Ireland?

The new Irish location is our response to the tense situation in the German labour market. It affords us access to highly qualified software specialists in an international environment. The small and effective team near Dublin is managed from Karlsruhe and will, in the future, support us with sub-projects as an “extended IT workbench”.

>> init was also able to continue its expansion with the acquisition of Mattersoft. What are your expectations in this regard?

Mattersoft offers us a number of opportunities: a complementary product for smaller and medium-sized applications in the ITCS area for which our extensive ITCS is too large, improved access to the Northern European market, and additional development resources and expertise. We will gradually leverage this potential.

>> init is also preparing internally for further growth with the process analysis you mentioned earlier. What steps have been taken in this area?

First, we identified the key processes in our value chain including their strengths and weaknesses. As a second step, we aligned these with the requirements of our corporate strategy and reviewed whether there would be additional processes or if we would shift the focus of our process structure. By involving external consultants who are assisting us in defining target processes, we are utilising third-party experience and benefiting from best-practice solutions in the market. Ultimately, the objective of these activities is to further optimise customer service, complete projects even more efficiently, and improve init’s profitability and cashflow situation. 

>> Identifying potential for improvement requires a high degree of transparency. How is this ensured within projects?

In addition to the project manager, whose focus is mainly technical, every project is also assigned a project controller, who supports and oversees the commercial aspects of the contract. In the case of more complex projects, we take a risk-adjusted approach in which we employ a separate commercial project management team. We also provide the responsible parties with a contact on the Managing Board in order to ensure transparency and control risks. Technically, we depict the entire process in an ERP System that is precisely tailored to our project business.

>> Are changes in store there, too?

Our highly specialised ERP system was expanded specifically for us and has been optimised over the years. As part of our process analysis, we are now reviewing whether the system will continue to be compatible with init’s future growth plans. We are currently examining various scenarios to continue to guarantee and increase transparency and efficiency at this new scale.

>> What other measures has init taken to prepare for future growth?

We have recently won a number of major orders that will provide a stable foundation for further growth for many years to come. This is also the result of our acquisitions and efforts into the development of ticketing hardware and software. While this investment put pressure on our bottom line in 2018, especially as a result of the additional work required, the long-term effect should be a positive one in terms of growth for init SE. We are also actively involved in research in pioneering areas such as electromobility and the networking of mobility concepts. Last but not least, we have strengthened our human resources and professionalised our HR marketing in order to be better prepared to handle the tense labour market situation, in particular in the IT area. With the help of these measures and a more attractive overall employer profile, we hope to attract employees to init and foster their loyalty over the long term. A specific example of this is the new INIT Academy, through which we have been consolidating our internal training offering since 2018.

>> What are your personal goals for 2019?

I would like to advance the projects we initiated and bring them to a successful conclusion, thereby paving the way for further growth. I have also set a goal for myself to further improve financial communication. In addition, I also look forward to making a more significant contribution towards the company’s economic success as its CFO than I could in my previous role.

>> Thank you for the interview!