Ing. Mag. Christina Haas, MBA is founder and CEO of TogetherSecure GmbH, opens an external URL in a new window, a company that provides services in the area of risk management. In today’s Alumni Portrait, she explains why she decided to found a company and how the General Management MBA helped her in doing so. In addition, she tells us why the founder is the most important resource of his or her own company.
You quitted your leading position in a big company and founded a start-up together with your husband. What was your motivation to start your own business?
On the one hand, we have always been convinced that we are pursuing a very good idea that’s worth it to take the risk of founding a company. On the other side, it is also a question of personality if one is willing to found a company. I don’t spare job changes. Quite the opposite! If no new challenges arise for some time, I soon feel unchallenged. It looks like I won’t have this problem now for a while.
What has been your biggest professional success so far?
The development and expansion of a group-wide Information Security & Risk Management System for an international corporation in the Health Care sector.
How did the completion of the General Management MBA contribute to achieving your career goals? From what did you benefit most?
We founded TogehterSecure while I was in the middle of the MBA program. Accordingly, I chose topics – especially in the second part – that were of benefit for the business formation. I was able to develop finance / business plans, strategy papers and project plans for the foundation of TogetherSecure. It was extremely helpful to receive valuable inputs from various experts. Finally, I had really well founded documents for our way through incubators and support programs on hand.
And what has been the biggest challenge in your professional life so far?
Clearly the founding of the start-up. Besides developing a product, you are suddenly concerned with tasks like the setup of a distribution system. That hasn’t really been on my agenda before. But of course it’s part of the whole process and it is challenging me because I had to work my way into it. Anyway, during that stage you learn new things day by day. And it is also very touching on an emotional level. You should be well aware that you need a strong belief in the idea, endurance and the willingness to work hard to found a company. In return, the first successes are even better!
How did the qualifications acquired during your MBA program support you in dealing with these challenges?
Especially the acquired know how regarding finance and business planning was very valuable for me in the stage of the initial financing of the company.
According to your opinion, what makes a good manager?
A very good manager should be a leader. He or she should really care for the people in the company, and personally want to support and develop them. A good manager should draft a vision and should be able to bring it forward.
To which future-related topics should managers definitely pay attention?
For me personally changing distribution processes are an important topic currently. More and more potential customers want to inform themselves before they are willing to conduct a conversation. The importance of a company’s online presence is also increasing in the b2b sector. If a software supplier doesn’t provide an online demo he is soon of no interest. We pay attention to SEO optimization, the planning of YouTube videos and webinars. A good network alone can get you started but it won’t make you a market leader.
How do you manage to keep your work life and private life in balance?
As I founded and lead the company together with my husband this is a very important topic for us. You have to plan time outs consciously, because there has to be free space to unwind. Otherwise you will run out of energy and particularly fun eventually. Probably oneself is the company’s most important resource during the founding stage. You simply can’t afford a breakdown. Therefore, a founder has also a responsibility towards the company to care for him- or herself. I personally do a lot of endurance sports. I run half marathon distances and exercise three to five units a week. This is an integral part of my schedule. Even when I have to get up at five o’clock in the morning, which is often the case. Besides that, I pursue hobbies like western riding, going to cinema and I love to bake and cook.
Which person would you like to meet? Why?
Niki Lauda, because he is incredibly strong-willed and can’t be deterred by nothing and no one. It would be interesting where this unshakeable self-confidence comes from resp. how he has developed it.
What kind of connection to TU Wien Continuing Education Center do you have today? Are you still in touch with fellow students or lecturers?
I’m still in regular contact with some colleagues. We don’t make it to meet every time but we keep on trying. During the MBA program some real friendships have occurred. When I come to Vienna and have a few hours’ time, I like to work in the library of TU Wien. I like the flair very much because it reminds me of the time I wrote my master’s thesis.
Which (professional and/or private) goals do you want to achieve within the next ten years?
Jobwise we would like to develop our software product HITGuard to become market leader in the DACH area. Concerning private life, I would like to have more spare time with the aid of a solid team that I can rely on. That means to work less than the average 50 hours per week. I would like to have more time to pursue my hobbies and to travel. And maybe I will finally have time for my own horse.