Thomas Wrobel

Thomas Wrobel

CTO at Validio GmbH & Co. KG

Now, meet the B-side!

Q. It’s been a year now and all of our hobbies and habits have changed. Is there anything that you are trying to do or have tried to do in the last 12 months since the pandemic?

Well, actually, what I’m really missing is in the pandemic is that I usually do horseback riding once a week at least. So that’s off the table because they closed down for that reason. And also, my wife and I were doing dancing classes every week, so that’s off too. 

So, that’s really a lot of stuff you have to do without, but one thing that really improved a bit during the pandemic was that during the summertime, at least, I could really sit on the terrace and work from there. And, although I have a very nice office, I can’t complain about that, but sitting outside there, even if the weather is not so nice, was really great. 

Q. Dancing lessons, can you tell us a little bit about that.

Well, actually, I one last dancing classes was when we got married, and I was not really into it, but then some friends got together, and said, come on, let’s try that, and in the end, they convinced me, and we got there, and now it’s like, it’s something that is missing. Because we have such a nice teacher, there’s such a nice group of people, which you meet then every weekend to have a good time together. And that’s really, it’s really great.

Q. And so what kind of dancing is it? Is it waltzing or tango, or whatever? 

Well, the whole variety, its standard, and it’s Latin American, it’s both sides. We do both of them, and this is a very diverse group that’s taking classes. We started off with almost all of the men were beginners. The ladies of course, had a big head start. And so that was very good for me because my wife is very good so that made it easier for me because she always could help me along. So that was nice.

Q. So you like to work on the terrace but are there any hobbies that you have room for that you started?

Not really a hobby, but I have a dog and I like dog walking. It’s something very, very good, very important at this time. What I realized is, I mean, dogs are always opening up to people, so you meet people when you’ve got a dog.  You get more chances to chat with others. Especially at this time, I realized that people were likely to talk much more to you than they did before.  

We got a neighbor, we’ve lived here for 20 years, and we didn’t talk, apart from good morning and something like that, but when you meet him with a dog, he really gets chatty. And I know a lot of things about him now. We get to know a lot of people in the neighborhood, even though we live here for 10 years and didn’t know any of them before, now I know them through their dogs. I have a golden retriever, she is a girl. 

Q. So, Thomas, to come back a little bit to work, OK? Now, you’re CTO, but you haven’t always been CTO. Can you remember back to when you were a kid or a teenager, what was one of the first jobs you’ve ever had?

Well, actually, I started quite early in 1992 working for Müller Medien, so because I did an apprenticeship there.  So that was the beginning, it was almost 40 years now. I can’t believe that. But right after starting there, I got a chance to work in radio when local radio there was in its infancy at the time. And to be honest, most of us had to learn on the go, what to do and how to work it. 

And that was really a very great time and a very cool job, even like, as I said, nobody really knew too much about it or something like that. And that’s something I think back very lovingly. And that’s a very, very great time. 

Q. So what did you do on the radio then?

Well, basically, it was quite similar to what I do now, I was programming there. 

Yeah, but that’s what was so different because what you had to do was different. We had software coming from America, that was very interesting. There was a consultant there, she was American and was a very interesting time. You would work until 2 or 3 in the morning at times, or you come back from a party, and you find the solution of a problem in your head, then you go to the station and you solve it. Today, we would say, it’s a startup. And it was the feeling was very much the same as you would have in the startup of today.  

Q. Talking about Radio brings me to music. What kind of music do you listen to music, or what’s your favorite music?

I listen to music and when I heard that name of your program, the B-side I had to really think of the first singles, but probably nobody knows what a single is, I bought. My first single I was Queen, and it was Another One Bites The Dust which was really a hit at the time.  And there was a piece on the B-side Dragon Attack, and it was really good I remember I liked the B-side much more than the A-Side.  I really liked Queen a lot. But I’ll also like George Michael and back from the Wham days or the latest stuff, he did before he sadly died.  And from the newest stuff, I also love Country, so I’m, I’ve got a quite wide variety of music I listen to. 

Q. If you have another profession other than what you’re doing today, what would that be?

That’s a bit tricky. But I think I’d like to go into teaching I would like that a lot. Training people, not necessarily kids, but also kids. I wouldn’t care about that. But teaching would be something I think I would like. I liked the job I have, but if I would have to choose, I would probably as a second, teaching. 

Q. Is there anything particular you want to teach?

What I liked a lot of the experiences I have made during my career, there’s always something to share, that would be, would be useful to share. So that would be something I would like to do a lot, especially in data privacy and security aspects, where we always see that there is a lot of potential for improvement because it’s not convenient. You have to do something. So find convenient solutions. That would be something that will be close to my heart. 

Q. Let’s talk about food, do you have a favorite comfort food or favorite cuisine that you like.  

I like German Franconian cuisinewhich is a bit heavy on the meat side. I really love that.  

And my mother-in-law, she’s a wonderful cook so I always get the best meals from her. But I also love Italian. 

Q. If you can invite anybody that you wanted to dinner, anybody from history or anyone from today. Who would you like to have dinner with?  

Oh, that’s really tricky. But as I’ve been reading some biographies lately, I think either Malcolm X or Martin Luther King would be the two picks. That would be something I would really like to people I would like to talk to because they have lived through such terrible and interesting times. So, that would really be interesting to talk to them. 

Q. And if you have one message to your colleagues, your partners, the other Siinda members, what would that message be?

Well, basically, I think it’s a message that most of the other colleagues probably will also have. It’s for me. It’s “hang in there”. We’ll get over this, will be back, and when we’re back, the directories will be needed more. We need to grow back the business, to get the consumers at the right spots. So, I think, once we got over it, we are needed, we will be very much needed.