From chef to “softie”.
Christian Hefti is 32 and already a team and project manager at Hamilton Medical AG in Bonaduz. What looks like a straightforward career was quite an odyssey for a long time.
It is difficult to unite the two worlds. When we think of software developers, the first thing that comes to mind are young men whose preparation for meals goes no further than opening the wrapper of a chocolate bar. By contrast, the classical chef enjoys simple, real things like fire and water and tubers from the earth, while the use of an electric stove is already a sacrilege. And then there is Christian Hefti: software developer, former chef and, even earlier, a school dropout.
When asked about his unusual career, he has to laugh a little. “Let’s put it this way, it took me a relatively long time to find my path.” Here is an abbreviated version of his story – it should, by the way, serve as a shining example of “it’s going to be okay” for all parents who are worried about the lack of plan and purpose in their youngsters: “I lost interest in learning at school and dropped out. Then I began an apprenticeship to become a surveyor, but didn’t want to sit in an office (time dragged on endlessly) and abandoned it. Then I trained to become a chef. It was fun at work (always rumble-tumble), but I had no desire to do it for a lifetime and quit. Then I went to vocational school, without a plan.
During vocational school, it slowly dawned on me that computer science is a professional field that I should probably take a look at,” Christian grins. “It was actually obvious. Since the day my dad brought home a computer, I had enjoyed it a lot. I was a full-on e-athlete, a counterstriker of the first generation. And that’s how I learned a bit of programming – in gaming, you always have to solve minor technical problems.”
Now, after a bachelor’s degree and various further education courses, Christian, at the age of 32, is a project and team leader at Hamilton Medical in Bonaduz in the department of software development, a “softie”, as they call each other. An unlikely career – or not? “Cooking and programming certainly have parallels,” says Christian. “You can make a tomato soup out of ketchup and water, for example, but it’s better with fresh tomatoes. In the same way, you can program cheap, quick solutions or high-quality ones. And developing software is actually a very creative process as well. Some of our programmers are real virtuosos – they have their own style like a Michelin-star chef.”
Programming now only takes about 20 to 30 per cent of Christian’s time. His main job is to coordinate the various tasks. An example? “If, for instance, we are dealing with a ventilator that also collects data and thus has to find the ‘sweet spot’ of the air pressure for the lungs to expand best, then the sensors have to act as logical units …” The sentences that follow buzz in the ears of non-computer scientists and make their eyes glaze over. Christian is very familiar with these blank facial expressions, of course. Even more than other professions, programmers live in a world of their own, with a language nobody else understands.
That’s exactly why he founded an association with a few fellow students two years ago: GRIT, short for Graubünden IT, wants to offer the IT community in Graubünden a platform and help to network the specialists with each other. “Because there really is a large number, which is steadily increasing. The industry is booming in the region,” he explains.
His department at Hamilton alone has grown from 12 to over 40 employees in the five years since he has been there. Always in development, always growing, always new challenges – at Hamilton, Christian has found a place where he never gets bored. And last, but not least, “The food in the canteen is also quite good. It’s amazing what they can do with the infrastructure at such a price.” You can drive a man out of the kitchen, but not the chef out of a man.
Life & Work in Grison
In the home of “Heidi” and “Schellen-Ursli”, research and production is on a global level: in Grison, there are international and national companies from the main sectors of plastics and chemistry, machine and tool construction, electronics and sensor technology or life sciences. The demand for specialists and young engineers from the engineering sector is strong and growing- as are the development opportunities.
More about us
Hamilton is a global player and technology leader in life science, storage, measurement and medtec. Hamilton produces precision instruments for research and industry as well as intelligent ventilators. The company is also strongly represented in the growth markets of genetics and robotics. The group currently employs over 3000 people worldwide, including over 1300 in Bonaduz and Domat / Ems in Grisons Rhine Valley.