Apostroph in person: Karin Heinzer-Achermann
Karin Heinzer-Achermann has now been Group Head of Operations at Apostroph for a decade: reason enough to elicit some memories, visions and thoughts from her.
How has Apostroph changed since you joined the company ten years ago?
Apostroph has grown from being an owner-led language services boutique to a premium provider and technology partner with offices across Switzerland. We've always been keen to keep at the forefront of technology while making the transition from family enterprise to SME. We also wanted to maintain proximity to our clients, hence the four offices located across the country.
What do you remember most about your work over those years?
Lots comes to mind: for one thing, some ten years ago we reviewed all our internal processes and started developing our proprietary bespoke ERP software. Then we introduced proprietary encrypted portals – myAPOSTROPH for clients and myFREELANCE for our external partners. And that was seven years before Europe started speaking of the GDPR! Apostroph also went on the offensive with its launch of machine translation for a number of public providers and proactively communicated the new post-editing service models which had been under development for a number of months. A continuous cycle that characterises the modern era: development – digitisation – automation.
What are your main day-to-day responsibilities and tasks?
As Group Head of Operations and a member of the senior management, I'm responsible for the day-to-day business of all our Swiss offices, as well as for managing our salespeople. I'm also the Quality Manager, so I'm charged with planning and implementing our quality management and employee training processes throughout the group. In addition, I also have responsibility for the annual audits – right now, I'm deciding whether we want to become ISO 27001 certified, which specifies an Information Security Management System. We've already successfully completed the preliminary audit. IT projects and workshops land on my desk as the company officer with overall responsibility for this area. I collate the strategies and ideas put forward by my management colleague Philipp Meier with those from the teams and prioritise the issues and steps.
What major processes and projects have you initiated, supervised or implemented at group management level?
I oversaw the development and launch of the myAPOSTROPH and myFREELANCE platforms; I was also responsible for incorporating all our subsidiaries within the Apostroph Group at an operational level. Wearing my Quality Manager hat, I was responsible for implementing ISO 17100 and overseeing the upgrade from ISO 9001:2007 to ISO 9001:2015. The new websites for Switzerland and the DACH organisation also come under my remit.
What makes you smile when you come in to work in the morning?
As an all-rounder, I love variety and challenge. No matter how many appointments and tasks I have, the main thing is to maintain the diversity. The wide-ranging nature of my role suits me down to the ground: I like visiting clients, negotiating with suppliers and immersing myself in the next IT concept. Life, for me, is all about variety!
What challenges is Apostroph facing going forward?
Like all SMEs in Switzerland, Apostroph will continue to contend with digitisation. When it comes to recruiting new employees, we as a technology-oriented company need to be heading towards "networked services" and attracting people who enjoy using and applying software. This is a theme destined to preoccupy all generations in Swiss companies – from recruitment to retirement. I also believe that change management as a topic needs overhauling and that increased emphasis should be placed on the digital aspects of workplaces and knowledge.
What do you get up to in your time off?
My husband, my parents and my siblings and their families are very important to me: I probably meet up with my sisters more often than the average person. We like to travel together for a couple of mini city breaks a year – we've already been to New York, Copenhagen, Rome and Hamburg. I'm also a big fan of Scandinavian and American crime fiction – and indulging in good red wine, preferably French or Italian. And when I cook, then it's proper hearty fare featuring a good piece of meat.
What personal philosophy do you live by?
Less is often more. Happiness starts with contentment. I consider myself very lucky to be happy with my life at this time: I enjoy my free time with family and friends – but I wish society could regain a sense of frugality.