Special knowledge and the high art of learning

20.04.2020

Back in ancient Greece, the great Plato dreamed of “tools which would teach men their own use”. After all, every hammer is only as good as its user – and vice versa! The provision of tailored information for users, the imparting of knowledge and the training of skills were therefore already central components in the range of today’s TSCNET Services when it was launched almost seven years ago. Our HR & Development Manager Aanchal Sood from the Corporate Services unit oversees all online and offline offerings of the TSCNET Academy. Especially the user seminars and trainings are also closely connected with Enes Halilovic, Lead Operations Manager in the Service Operations unit. He is not only “a man of the first hour” at TSCNET Services and has helped to develop the company and most of the services, but above all he has played a major role in the development and implementation of the training offers. We have met the man, who has been called “Doctor Grid” a few times in recognition, for an interview.

Where does your passion for this important topic come from?

I owe my passion for the training world to two factors: Character and experience. Character, because I am a person who loves to share and pass on knowledge, especially to the younger generation. In my eyes, when knowledge is being passed on and merged with innovative ideas from those who receive it, great positive changes come about. Experience, because I was actively involved in providing trainings at my previous job at ELES, the Slovenian transmission system operator, and learnt about its strong importance for a company’s long-term success.

What role does training and educational activities play at TSCNET Services?

As we started, we first organised only internal trainings, because we were group of individuals with vastly different level of experience and we wanted to bring all operational staff to the required knowledge level. Afterwards we started also offering trainings for customers, and following their needs, the product trainings developed through time to three various levels. To bring TSCNET closer to the customers, we first organised Starter Training, presenting the whole TSC idea and TSCNET vision, goals, and service portfolio. Training was suitable for new employees of both, TSOs and TSCNET.

Does that happen here in the Munich offices? The technical facilities are ideal …

That’s true, but today this training takes place mainly online, because this way every user can go at his own pace, independent of time and place, and, if desired, team up with colleagues. It could not be more flexible.

That makes sense. What about the second level?

Well, on request of our customers, we introduced practical AMICA Features training, where we inform the users, i.e. the employees of our customers who work with it, about the various functions that are constantly being expanded. AMICA stands for Advanced Multisite Integral Congestion Assessment and is a main tool for the security assessment of power grid operation for TSOs in the TSO Security Cooperation initiative. Here, training is primarily about interaction and practical experience. For this reason, it takes place in person in a conventional classroom training. AMICA is constantly being developed and therefore the training programme, material and duration are adapted accordingly.

And finally, what is number three?

That is the so-called operational simulation. To make sure that the acquired knowledge can be applied in the right way, the handling of problems and their effective and efficient solution is crucial. There are two kinds of trainings in this level. Some are organised as online courses, but with live participation, when users interact with each other online from their home TSOs, and together they tackle simulated real-life problems to better understand how the various tools work and how they are most useful to them. The other one is organised as a workshop, when representatives from TSOs in specific region meet physically in TSCNET premises and work together as a team to work out the solutions to the simulated extraordinary operational situation.

What components must a good training portfolio have in your eyes?

Well, it conveys everything that is necessary to be able to take on and fulfil tasks. This also includes understanding the employer or partner company. But it also requires so-called soft skills – from communication and coordination to efficient work and IT tools. Lastly, product training for customers is key. It is great if there are innovative technologies and knowledge, but it’s far better if the user has the ability to really make use of them. It also lays the foundation for fruitful exchange – a common understanding as a prerequisite for great improvements.

How would you see the current range of professional training courses?

Our company is growing each and every year, our services are becoming more and more complex, and our industry is also evolving in seven-league boots. In this demanding situation we have managed to also expand our training and education programme in many exciting new directions. And we have also kept on breaking new ground. The best thing from my point of view is that we are still as committed to continuously improving our services as we were at the beginning.

So, what do you actually do when you develop a new training or course?

The basic principle is always the same: the needs of the participants, that is the users and employees. First, we identify the demands and wishes, then we collect material. Once we have enough, we decide on the format, including whether e-learning is suitable. We put ourselves in the position of the participants and estimate the time required for the individual aspects. Then we plan and organise. This takes between two and three months for small modules and up to six months for larger ones. During this time, we accomplish a variety of milestones, the main elements and also the right trainer.

Is it different with online courses?

For online courses, we collaborate with a specialised partner who has extensive experience in creating e-learning courses. We provide the ideas and content, and the specialists visualise them or create multimedia animations. In our experience, an online training course should be between 22 and 40 minutes long in order to achieve optimal effect. In a multi-stage process, we revise all content until the quality meets our high expectations. Only then do we release a course module.

How can the success of a training course be measured?

That depends on the training format and has also changed over time. Since the beginning we collected the feedback of the participants after each training was finished and asked them to evaluate different criteria such as room quality, material, IT equipment, trainers, etc. We collected the different points that the participants gave us in each of these categories to see where we stand. If we got more than 7 points, we considered the training a success.

Have you managed to achieve this goal sometimes?

Fortunately, the lowest overall number we ever achieved was 7.7! But nowadays you can measure success also directly, for example with a little quiz at the end of each module. The participant then knows immediately whether he or she has understood the content or not. And we know right away! Furthermore, occasionally the feedback on e-learning modules is collected from the customers and based on the feedback, the recent version is prepared to maintain the high quality.

How do Covid-19 and the coronavirus pandemic affect the trainings offered?

Unfortunately, a lot! We had to cancel and postpone several sessions already. This is really a pity, but we are not letting ourselves be beaten and are concentrating on turning these obstacles into opportunities. We can count ourselves lucky that we already have an established and proven e-learning platform. A good example is the MRA module, i.e. for Multilateral Remedial Actions. It has been an immense learning experience for both participants and for us. Or the GSK module on Generation Shift Key – it is exemplary for a high-quality, concise learning product. Or our Grid Repository Training, which presents various challenges and prospects of our sector. By summer 2020, all TSC TSOs will be presented with their respective modules.

One question to conclude: Which things would you like to change and improve in the future?

As I have more and more management tasks to take on now, an important task is quite banal – the search for a successor. Apart from that, it is primarily a matter of expanding technology and IT. On the one hand this means such simple things as enough data transfer capacity, especially in times like these, but on the other hand it also means new methods and functions. The corona virus “only” puts more pressure here. All in all, I am not afraid of the challenges. On the contrary: I am excited about the new approaches that will emerge. I am immensely proud to have been part of this exciting journey so far, and look forward to being one of the shapers and pacemakers of what the future holds.

Many thanks for the interview, Enes!

To enable customers to make the most of the RSC’s services, a wide range of training and courses is available at the TSCNET Academy

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Putting together Europe’s power puzzle

16.04.2020

“Electricity is really just organised lightning,” said George Carlin, the Grammy award winning American comedian. But this organising thing is bloody complex. To provide exceptional service in the electricity business, one needs to understand the many important pieces of this exciting industry, which form a powerful puzzle together. Ivana Duraković has recently joined TSCNET Services as an Operations Manager in the Business Unit Service Operations and is well experienced in looking at such details. She looks forward to contributing her knowledge to the company’s success together with her new colleagues.

Ivana is 35 years old and originally from Croatia, where she obtained her Master of Engineering degree at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Osijek, the economic and cultural centre of Croatia’s Slavonia region. Upon completion of her studies, she felt drawn to the capital city Zagreb and joined Croatia’s transmission system operator (TSO) HOPS. Ivana started her eleven-year long tenure with the company by working in various subsidiaries, for example one specialised in metering devices. After having acquired a wide understanding of the basics, equipment and coordination, she broadened her horizon by taking on new duties as a power system dispatcher. In her new role, she gained insights into the fascinating world of power flows, power system stability, and electricity grid processes. Before joining TSCNET, Ivana held the position of Head of Power System Control Centre at HOPS.

The energy doesn’t stop after work
Looking at Ivana’s passion for electricity, it only makes sense that she is very energetic in her free time, too. She is a climber, snowboarder, and lindy hop dancer, who knows how to perform lindy hop aerials, an acrobatic technique developed in the 30s. As a frequent traveller, she also enjoys learning new languages and even speaks basic Chinese.

At TSCNET, she will use her expertise and power to boost the operations quality and support the team in its daily business. Along the way, she will also have many opportunities to pick up new words in one of the many languages represented in our so diverse staff. She can then tell her former fellow workers about it, after all HOPS is one of the customers and, at worst, just a phone call away.

TSCNET Services hired Ivana Duraković as Operations Manager in the Business Unit Service Operations 

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New hire: Explorer with a technical thirst for discovery

07.10.2019

Christian Paúl Suárez is new in our Service Operations business unit but familiar with electricity market issues. The 26-year-old Ecuadorian, who prefers to be called Paúl by his middle name, is curious to experience the differences between the South American and the European electricity markets. At TSCNET Services, Paúl should find the ideal conditions for this and advance his own career together with his new company. We warmly welcome our new Junior Operations Manager.

In the major Ecuadorian port city of Guayaquil, Paúl visited the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) and completed his studies as an electrical engineer in power systems. Before he graduated from the Universidad Internacional de la Rioja in Spain with a Master of Business Administration specialised in project management, he worked as “profesional de estudios económicos” (professional in economic assessment) for the Ecuadorian state power company Corporación Nacional de Electricidad, the country’s largest energy corporation with more than 1.2m end customers.

Currently, Paúl is demonstrating his ambitions by attending an online programme for a master’s degree in Renewable Energy and Energy Sustainability from the Universitat de Barcelona in Spain alongside his new job at TSCNET. As Junior Operations Manager it is his declared goal to become familiar with the functioning of the European market and network and to cooperate with the company in the management of the European interconnected energy environment.

Paúl finds not only his new company but also its location in Munich attractive. The world-famous German natural scientist Alexander von Humboldt thought Ecuador was “the most interesting region in the world” because of the “high snow-capped peaks, the active volcanoes, their vegetation and the customs of their inhabitants” – we are curious to see what remarkable things Paúl will discover here in Bavaria. The Oktoberfest, which ended yesterday, might have given some impressions.

TSCNET Services has hired Christian Paúl Suárez from Ecuador as Junior Operations Manager in the Service Operations business unit

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Michela and Gopi, the newcomers in service operations

09.07.2019

TSCNET Services is on course for continued growth in order to meet the increasing demands with more and more services for our customers. In a booming region like Munich, this is not so easy. Our Business Unit Service Operations is pleased to announce two additional Junior Operations Managers: Michela Monaco and Gopi Jayasurian.

Michela Monaco comes from a small town near Pisa. Her father is Italian, but her mother comes from the Philippines. And actually her surname leaves her no choice but to move to Bavaria’s capital: Munich in Italian is Monaco, Monaco di Baviera to be exact. In addition, Munich has its reputation as “Italy’s most northern city”. The 26-year-old studied at Università di Pisa, first energy engineering for her bachelor’s degree, then electrical engineering for her master’s degree. Her thesis was also done at ABB’s Corporate Research Center in Ladenburg, Baden-Württemberg. So she already knows Germany.

At TSCNET, Michela wants to gain valuable experience and develop within the company with its open but challenging environment. To balance this out, she focuses on cooking, reading, hiking and above all her own vegetable garden with great home-grown tomatoes.

Gopi Krishnan Jayasurian is a 25-year-old electrical engineer from Kerala in the far south of India. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Electronics from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad, India, 2015 and received a Master’s of Science degree in Sustainable Energy from the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen by early 2019. During this time, he also spent several months as a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois in the USA studying large-scale optimisation techniques in power systems. Gopi has also gained some professional experience: as a support engineer at Amazon in India and as an intern in market modelling and system development and later as a market modelling advisor at ENTSO-E in Brussels, Belgium. As Junior Operations Manager, he has a lot in mind: “As the sky is the limit, I want TSCNET to grow overall, and I want to be an impetus for that growth. I want to help to improve the quality of our offerings, and make our operational security coordination processes best known worldwide.”

In his spare time Gopi likes to play acoustic guitar, especially Bollywood songs. What he likes about Munich is its mixture of pulsating metropolis and “authentic Indian retreats” (those were his words!) – and that doesn’t miss the beer gardens!

TSCNET Services has two additional Junior Operations Managers: Michela Monaco and Gopi Jayasurian

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New hires: Heroic rendezvous in Service Operations

10.05.2019

TSCNET Services wins two new additions to its Service Operations business unit. One of them is Jorge Alves. The 33-year-old Portuguese with a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with a major in Power Systems from the University of Porto previously worked as a High Voltage Network Operator at EDP Distribuição. His wife went to Germany for her doctorate as a biologist. When their son was born, Jorge followed his wife to the north and applied as Operations Manager to TSCNET. His greatest hobby is surfing, and even though the waves there are considerably smaller than on Portugal’s Atlantic coast, he is already eager for the famous river surfing on Munich’s Eisbach. On the one hand, this certainly helps as balance to office work, but on the other it seems to awaken the fighting spirit – Jorge’s superhero counterpart, the famous Silver Surfer, was known for that: “Others may battle with victory in sight – but the Surfer still strives when all hope is gone!”

The other newcomer in the group is Jonas Häusler, a 25-year-old Franconian from Erlangen near Nuremberg with a master’s degree in mathematics and power grid optimisation as his thesis topic. He starts as Junior Operations Manager and wants to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible and complement the team in the further “evolution of the European power system” with his special perspective of a strictly abstract and analytically thinking mathematician. But he has even more knowledge and experience to offer, and that falls under a term that best suits the world of superheroes: Jonas is a true Master of Disaster! As part of his many years of voluntary work for a German aid organisation, he has also worked as an instructor for disaster control units. Although TSCNET and our customers want to avoid catastrophes by all means his expertise is also extremely valuable – professionals agree that there is hardly anything as helpful in avoiding crises as the experience from crises that have already been mastered.

We wish the new members of the team such a good start in our company, that all possible superhero forces can be fully channelled into the European power grid!

Fresh engagements for Service Operations (from the left): Jorge Alves and Jonas Häusler (picture: TSCNET Services)

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New hire: Oscar-worthy move to Service Operations

14.03.2019

When the Academy Awards were ceremoniously given in Hollywood at the end of February, we at TSCNET Services had a relaxed time leaning back: We already had our Oscar. And as the “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón, probably the most undisputed winner of this year, reminded of his home country Mexico, we were also on the bright side: Mexico indeed is also the birthplace of Oscar F. Muñoz, the new Senior Service Analytics & Quality Manager in our Service Operations unit.

Oscar was born 43 years ago in Mexico City, with officially just under nine million inhabitants one of the world’s largest cities. The connection to electric power was already there: His father was an electrical technician, and at the age of twelve Oscar chose electricity as a school subject. After graduating from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and energy systems, he went to the USA to earn his Master of Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After about two and a half years as an electrical design engineer and then as a bids & proposals engineer for medium and low voltage equipment, Oscar worked for 16 years in the development of software for use in the analysis, simulation and visualisation of electrical networks, first in the USA, then in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg.

At the end of 2018, Oscar signed up for TSCNET Services. “I was interested in a career transition from conceiving and implementing software tools for power systems to the utilisation of such software in direct applications within the environment of transmission system operators,” he explains. In Munich, his ambitious goal is to combine his education, his skills, and his many years of experience to contribute to the improvement and development of processes and tools for the analysis and visualisation of complex large-scale power systems. Hollywood, please make a note of this – it sounds like some award-winning deeds again.

Oscar F. Muñoz is the new Senior Service Analytics & Quality Manager in the Service Operations unit

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Operations in Bavarian – welcome, Mohammad and Vincent!

15.10.2018

We at TSCNET Services are passionate advocates of diversity, especially when it comes to the origins of our employees. People from 24 nations work with us – but then many people are happy when someone truly Bavarian is also part of it. Bavaria has to do with both newcomers to our Service Operations unit, but in very different ways.

With Vincent Helmbrecht (right in the picture) it’s quite easy: The 33-year-old Operations Manager comes from Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, just 40 kilometers north of Munich, and the gateway to Holledau, the world’s largest hop-growing region. If you don’t know: Hops are the characteristic ingredient for beer, and worldwide Bavaria stands for the so popular brewery product.

After his Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) in Renewable Energies Technologies at the University of Applied Sciences Nordhausen, Vincent earned his Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency at the University of Kassel in 2013. After around three years as a photovoltaic researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (Fraunhofer IEE) in Kassel and in the European Network of Excellence (DERlab), Vincent joined TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the German-Dutch transmission system operator (TSO). There he worked at the Control Center in Dachau, which borders Munich in the west. His focus was on capacity calculations and Week-Ahead, Day-Ahead and Intraday calculations including redispatch for the grid’s n-1 security.

Vincent hired TSCNET for a period of 18 months. He wants to bring in his knowledge from the TSO side and at the same time get to know the work of a multinational Regional Security Coordinator (RSC), such as TSCNET, even better.

It is somewhat more complicated with the Syrian Kurd Mohammad Qasem, whom the family and friends call Bradost or Brad for short. In 2009, he began his studies in Information Technology Engineering (ITE) at the University of Damascus. Before his graduation he had to leave the country because of the civil war in 2012 and went to the Kurdish part of Iraq. There he worked in various humanitarian projects for the Italian aid organisation Un Ponte Per and also developed several database applications, among others financed by UNHCR and UNICEF.

In 2015 Mohammad was accepted into the “Leadership for Syria” programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and continued his studies in Engineering Physics at Oldenburg University, specialising in renewable energies. During his studies, he also had a lot to do with photovoltaics in addition to wind energy and developing new concepts to realise the “Energy Turnaround”. Now that he has graduated, the 26-year-old has moved to Munich with his family and started as Junior Operations Manager at TSCNET, and now we’ ve come full circle when it comes to Bavarian: After Kurdish, Arabic, English, and German, the amateur photographer and music lover now also wants to learn the Bavarian dialect, which is “difficult even for native German speakers in other parts of the country to understand”, as the global edition of “Handelsblatt” says. Perhaps Mohammad’s new colleague Vincent will kindly include some Bavarian in his knowledge transfer project.

TSCNET Services has welcomed Mohammad Qasem (on the left) and Vincent Helmbrecht, the two new colleagues in the Service Operations unit

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Welcome, Stoyan! Experienced enthusiast for data

25.06.2018

At TSCNET Services, we are proud of our international team of people who have come ‒ in most cases most literally ‒ a long way to bring their skills to the service of our customers. Such as Stoyan Velev, whom we welcomed in May as the new Business Intelligence & Data Scientist in our Service Operations team. Originating from the southwest of Bulgaria, Stoyan moved as far as to the Baltic coast in the northeast of Germany, where he received his master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design in Wismar. Later, his education was complemented by certification as a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programmer and database developer.

What his work is about is not so easy to describe. A Bulgarian proverb sums it up quite well: “It is good to fish in streaming water.” The vast amount of data in our company can almost be understood as wildly thundering waters. This makes it even more important to filter out the relevant data and process them optimally. Next to the maintenance and advancement of TSCNET’s central database, Stoyan’s core tasks include data visualisation and the creation of reports.

Stoyan enriches our team with a load of practical experience in the field of data analysis and as designer of analytic and reporting systems as well as complex calculation models. As a European regional security coordinator (RSC) serving transmission system operators (TSOs), it is particularly valuable for TSCNET Services that Stoyan brings relevant expertise from the electricity retail market, too. What stands out from Stoyan‘s experience is his enthusiasm for programming, data processing and reports. “This means truly professional and meaningful reports that accurately reflect the company’s as well as the customers’ activities and really support decision-making,” says Stoyan. With this personal verve, Stoyan is committed to providing real value to TSO customers. We are happy to report!

Stoyan Velev, employee of TSCNET Services since the beginning of May 2018

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Staff position: Back home to create the new

07.05.2018

Sometimes a fresh start can also be a comeback, and this is the case with Veronika Doppelhammer, the new Program Manager for Coordinated Security Analysis (CSA) Transformation at TSCNET Services. Some ten years ago, Veronika left the world of transmission system operators (TSOs) to further expand her professional experience. Now, she returns to the TSO business by taking on a task that is most challenging and truly in need of a responsible-minded expert. In her new role as CSA Transformation Manager, Veronika will lead the further functional and IT-related developments in one of the most important service areas. In this area, our company supports its customers in identifying and managing bottlenecks and risks in the European electricity grid. The CSA services will be further extended to allow better coordination and advice. “This most important and complex venture has to be run by an absolute professional,” says Maik Neubauer, one of our Managing Directors.

Veronika was born in Bavaria and received the degree of a Dipl.-Ing. Elektrotechnik at the University of Applied Sciences in the Lower Bavarian capital of Landshut. She completed her diploma thesis as working student at the hydropower division of the Bayernwerk AG. Veronika’s first TSO experience followed in a six-month project at Technikon Pretoria (now merged into the Tshwane University of Technology) in cooperation with the South African TSO Eskom. Subsequently, the electrical engineer fulfilled various positions and management roles in energy companies ‒ such as several divisions of E.ON Energie AG and the Swiss TSO Swissgrid – and gathered substantial experience in the fields of strategy and business development, regulatory and risk management. Especially at TSCNET shareholder Swissgrid, for which Veronika worked until 2007, former colleagues are looking forward to collaborate with Veronika again.

Veronika is excited to be challenged by the new project at TSCNET Services. She is eager to get new functionalities ready in time, but always with an open eye to regulatory requirements and customer satisfaction. “I have held various positions in many areas of the energy sector, not only electricity but also gas. I worked in small start-ups and large corporations always having in mind to improve interface management,” explains Veronika. With this experience and as a part of the TSCNET management, Veronika wants to enable the (young) team of TSCNET to fully use their potential.

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Alisa, Andres, and Prashik new in Service Operations

02.05.2018

Of the four teams at TSCNET Services, the Service Operations team is not only the largest, but also the one with the most colleagues coming directly from one of the transmission system operators (TSOs) that are also shareholders of the company. This leads to a great transfer of knowledge and exchange of experience, but also has a downside: Most of the time the TSO would like to have “their” employee back earlier or later, and we have to find replacements. This time we are pleased to welcome as many as three new employees: Alisa Mocanu and Prashik Mankar as additional Operations Managers and Andres Sanchez Garcia as new IT Operations Manager.

Operations Manager Alisa was born in the Republic of Moldova and went to Romania to study. There she completed her master’s at Faculty of Power Engineering at the Politehnica University of Bucharest. She has several years of experience in the development and commissioning of photovoltaic power plants (20MW) and in the field of grid software solutions. She chose TSCNET Services because she can here be part of a team that shapes the future of energy.

Alisa’s colleague Prashik Mankar comes from India and has a master’s in Electrical Power Engineering from the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, following his Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from Fr. C. Rodrigues Institute of Technology in Navi Mumbai, a satellite city to the metropolis of Mumbai in Maharashtra, India. Before joining us he worked for our client 50Hertz, mainly in the field of online simulations and forecasted grid models. Prior to that, he worked for GridLab GmbH with a focus on the implementation and operation of phase shifting transformer (PSTs) and detecting and eliminating looming bottlenecks in the power transmission grid.

Originally from Spain, IT Operations Manager Andres has more than ten years of experience in the IT business after graduating in Advanced Software Development in 2003 at the age of only 21. The family man has been living in Germany since 2009. Most recently he was Global IT Manager at Matica Technologies AG in Munich. He opted for TSCNET Services primarily because of the almost familiar open office concept and the excellent opportunities for personal development. “He works efficiently, is always helpful and thanks to his character, working with him makes everyone happy,” says one of his former colleagues appreciatively. The employees and customers of TSCNET would certainly not mind if one day they would also speak of our three newcomers in this way.

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