Beat Stettler

Beat Stettler

Managing Director

along with onway – how long have you been on board?

Together with some INS Institute employees, I founded onway (or WLAN-Partner as we were known then) in 2008 as a start-up company that was part of the HSR University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil. That means I have been part of the company since the very beginning.

What tasks does your role as Managing Director include?

My key tasks include customer care and sales support. Legal aspects such as contracts and tenders are becoming increasingly complex and require a great deal of time and patience. As Managing Director, it goes without saying that I am also responsible for financially managing our growth, which we have generated ourselves thus far. As a former professor for computer networks, I also champion technology so I am closely involved in how our solutions are positioned and will develop in future.

What do you particularly enjoy about your job?

I really enjoy how diverse my tasks are. Being an entrepreneur means dealing with many wonderful yet sometimes demanding issues. I am glad that I can rely on a well-coordinated management team. By working in this way, we can all ensure that the cogs turn as smoothly as possible and that our staff can work in peace.

Which technologies and topics do you come across in your job?

Many IT systems used in public transport date back to the noughties and some are even older. The aim here is to show transport companies a viable path to establishing a modern basic IT infrastructure that is scalable and flexible enough for the many digitisation ideas that exist everywhere yet often fail because of “legacy IT”. This requires me offering a great deal of advice, which is very exciting and something I enjoy hugely.

For our enterprise and industrial customers, the main issue is coping with the growing deluge of IoT devices, without completely compromising IT security. For this purpose, we have been developing our own software solutions for many years. They make life easier for our clients’ IT departments when dealing with this problem.

As a former CB radio operator, I am also still interested in all wireless technologies: mobile radio, WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, etc.

What professional expertise are you bringing to the table?

During the 20 years I taught at the University of Applied Sciences, telecommunications developed so quickly that I had to spend about a quarter of my working time learning about all the new technologies and concepts, then subsequently creating the necessary teaching materials. I’m therefore still pretty up-to-date in terms of network technology. However, the discipline of network engineering is moving away from hardware and configuring boxes towards programming software and automation scripts. As my programming skills haven’t progressed since I completed my studies (i.e. mainly Pascal and C), I clearly have some shortcomings here. Today’s students are better placed: they are primarily trained as software developers and as telecom engineers secondarily.

What are your plans for the future, what do you definitely want to achieve with onway?

Today, with only around 30 employees, we still feel like a family. Communication is open and we enjoy short chains of command. I want to ensure that competent employees can decide for themselves or as part of a team what is best for the company.  However, as the company grows, I have also noticed that a blinkered way of thinking is creeping in here and there, and I am less fond of that. My biggest goal is therefore for us to continue growing carefully – and with as few big-company airs and graces as possible. But I also know that this is not easy.

Why onway? To me, working at onway means...

… realising my dream as an entrepreneur.

Any final words?

Computer science offers such an incredible array of development opportunities for those who work in this field. From hardware to software, telecommunication to graphic design and game development, there is likely an area for every kind of person to explore and be inspired without ever getting bored. I therefore think it is a great shame that more young people (particularly women) are not enthusiastic about this profession. As teachers, we still have a lot of work ahead of us to make computer-science subjects more appealing and playful. I can even see this with my own children. While they are 100% digital natives, they never really got excited about computer-science subjects since they were far too mathematics-heavy and not creative enough.