Life (and work) in the fast lane
Sarah Scherner (30) loves going fast. She has spent the last ten years bringing invoice and inbound projects up to full speed for SER customers. The IT consultant's eye for detail and love of all things fast spill over into her personal life, too, where she keeps her foot firmly on the gas pedal. Sarah talks to us about how she thrives on the exciting momentum of both the race track and her job in Professional Services.
Sarah, you work closely with SER customers. What's a typical working day like for you?
There's no such thing in my job! I spend much of the day out visiting customers during our project phases, so every day is different. On top of that, my responsibilities are extremely varied. Take project planning, for example. The first stage is to organize everything, which I can do from the office. Once we move into the project implementation phase, my job is to install, set up and configure our software for the customer on site. That's followed by training, paperwork and, finally, the project handover. It's all part and parcel of what I do. We do have standard processes in place for setting up certain elements, like InvoiceMaster, but the challenges vary from customer to customer and industry to industry. Take construction companies, for instance. Their invoices contain a company code that has to be read digitally. You don't have that in, say, the banking sector. There are always new challenges to overcome, which is what I love about it. My job brings me into contact with diverse situations and people. It's not the same thing day in, day out.
Sounds complicated! What kind of challenges do you come up against?
One example is the reverse charging of sales tax under section 13b of the German VAT Act, which says that the company that receives the service pays the sales tax, not the company that performs it. Invoices have to be issued in line with this regulation and, of course, read correctly by the software. But the rules can be applied in so many different possible permutations. To make sure companies stay fully compliant, invoices are read item by item and special follow-up processes are triggered depending on their contents. It's my job to set this up for our customers. The sheer variety of challenges that crop up is what keeps things interesting.
I particularly like the projects where I get to create a brand-new solution from scratch. Like when customers start using inbound mail processing software. It's pretty special working shoulder to shoulder with the customer to build something from nothing and then watching the project gather momentum.
Speaking of gathering momentum: You spend much of your free time on the go, too.
Yes, my main hobby is driving my tuned-up Seat Leon Cupra with 280 bhp under the hood. I'm always working on it and fitting new performance parts. Then I love to take it out on Nürburgring during their "tourist" sessions for amateur drivers. You'll find me on the famous Nordschleife virtually every weekend during the open season.
Where does your passion for fast cars stem from?
When I first bought the Leon, it was due for a new exhaust. My cousin fitted it for me while I stood by and watched. That was three years ago. It sparked off a desire in me to keep improving the car little by little, so I taught myself how to do it. Now I carry out most of the mechanical work myself. But of course when you have 280 bhp at your fingertips, at some point you will want to test it out! That's what led to my first lap around the Nürburgring – and that was the start of a new passion. Practice makes perfect, and it wasn't long before I could keep up with the other drivers. It was a eureka moment for me. Next on my list is to fit a new chassis, which will bring down my lap times by another couple of seconds.
High speeds, sharp corners: sounds quite dangerous…
I started off slowly. There are always people who overdo it on their first time. But it's a matter of common sense. Once you get to know the track, the racing line, where to brake, and – as much as I love going fast – learn to keep a cool head, it's no more dangerous than driving in normal traffic. Like anywhere, there are rules of the road at the Nürburgring that everyone has to obey. It's the same in my projects: Fast results and fast processes are my goal, but not at the cost of safety and security. Ultimately, experience is what counts – both at work and on the racetrack. The more you have, the safer you are.
Are there any other parallels between your pastime and your profession?
My work brings me into contact with different people all the time. You need a well-oiled team if you want to see good results. The same goes for driving in convoy around the Nürburgring. A group of drivers will agree on who goes out front and the others keep behind. You have to be careful not to lose anyone, regardless of your position. It's important to stay alert and develop a feel for what’s going on around you. Just like in a good project – it's one thing to be fast and make technical improvements, but team spirit is also a key part of the equation.
Looking ahead, what will play an important role in your projects?
I have been in this role for ten years and still haven't stopped learning. Every project comes with new experiences, and that's just how it should be. Not only does it help me to progress personally, but I can also give feedback to our product management team. After all, delivering perfect solutions is our shared goal.