Where do you work and what are you doing exactly?
Andreas Zehetner: I work for the business consultancy McKinsey, specifically for Digital McKinsey. This is a McKinsey department that handles digital projects. Specifically, I support companies in digital transformation or in the introduction of agile working methods.
What is most exciting about your job?
Andreas Zehetner: What fascinates me about consulting is that I get to know a variety of sectors and industries – from insurance companies and banks to the automotive industry, telecommunications, transport and logistics or even shipping companies. Everyone is united in thinking about digital trends, digital media, transformations and technologies. This is where people like me come into play, people who thanks to their technical background are familiar with new technologies such as advanced analytics or big data analytics and are capable of introducing them in companies. I find it exciting to support traditional companies in developing new business models based on new technologies. I can optimally combine my technical studies and my business knowledge in this specialisation.
You studied Electrical Engineering and Audio Engineering. How did your degree programme prepare you for your current work?
Andreas Zehetner: I see two aspects in this: the work method of work on the one hand and the content component on the other. The former is not specific to electrical engineering, but rather a by-product of any degree programme. I learned how to work independently, analyse and solve problems, prepare them for practical implementation and to schedule my work precisely – which is about what to do and when to do it. I urgently need all of these skills in my job now when planning projects with my clients. And in the content context it must be said that even though I cannot apply the detailed knowledge from my studies in all of its scope in everything I do, I nevertheless benefit greatly from having a broad technical understanding and I can speak the language of the IT specialists and technicians in companies.
When you think back on your studies – what do you remember most fondly?
Andreas Zehetner: There are so many great memories! I enjoyed my time at university enormously and still like to visit the TU Graz Signal Processing and Speech Communication Laboratory, meeting the professors and exchanging ideas. During my studies, I was able to do exactly what I had always been interested in – signal processing with specialisation in algorithm development. The supervision in the master's programme was very good, and in seminars and lectures, we students could really interact with the teaching staff and work with them on problems. Especially helpful at that time were the possibilities opened up by online Educational Technology. The Institute for Signal Processing and Speech Communication was a pioneer in that aspect. It meant I could prepare better for the lectures I attended or catch up on the ones I missed.
Were there challenges that you had to overcome at the beginning of your degree programme?
Andreas Zehetner: I was well prepared for the start of my studies in terms of content, as a graduate of a higher technical college. Self-organisation and logistics, however, were initially quite challenging. In addition to Electrical Engineering and Audio Engineering, I also studied business administration at the University of Graz. Combining these two degree programmes at three universities and developing a feasible timetable for the lectures or exercises at the many different locations of TU Graz, the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the University of Graz was a relatively complex task. But as I said, I am my own project manager at work today and I learned what I need for this during my studies.
What makes a good electrical engineer? What does she/he really need to be able to do or bring to the job?
Andreas Zehetner: Above all – in addition to a basic understanding of mathematics – having fun and enjoying the subject is very important in my view. After all, we spend a lot of time studying mathematics, physics or electrodynamics (which is one of my most dreaded subjects, by the way), and if you are not enjoying it then it is surely harder to pull through and take a failure in your stride.
Did you benefit from mobility programmes of the TU Graz (Erasmus et al.) or did you engage in something else during your studies?
Andreas Zehetner: During my degree programme, I worked as a teaching assistant at the Signal Processing and Speech Communication Laboratory and at the Institute of Electronics, where I supervised the lab and exercises. In the summer semester of 2012, I went to Inha University in South Korea with Joint Study where I attended lectures and learned Korean. Then, in addition to studying, I worked at Mercedes in Raaba near Graz in the project team for the introduction of the then new G-Class. I completed my master’s project at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen, Germany, where I spent half a year. What I have gained from this time is not only unforgettable experiences, but also an international network of contacts around the world, people with whom I am still closely in touch. This also includes my fellow students who work in a wide range of industries, be it in the field of room acoustics or at companies such as KTM. Two of my fellow students have even founded their own recording studio.
How do you like Graz as a city to study and live?
Andreas Zehetner: I first came to Graz because of my studies in 2007. The degree programme of Electrical Engineering and Audio Engineering in this form only exists in Graz. The life as a student in Graz was great, and I stayed here after graduation, because Graz is quite simply a beautiful city. It is a place where I still enjoy living, even if I am originally from Lower Austria and now travel through the whole of Europe for my work. The size of the city, the cultural and culinary provisions it offers are perfect and there are plenty of cool bars and clubs.