Interview with Michael and Stephan

The year 2020 brings many positive changes for KMS.

The founder and long-standing managing director Michael Schönefeld is placing the management in younger hands after successful entrepreneurial activity. With Stephan Siehl, an experienced software manager with far-reaching ambitions takes the helm. We asked them both about their experiences and thoughts for the future. 

"Stephan, just briefly introduce yourself, what did you do before your time at KMS?"

Stephan: "For the last 15 years, I have held various positions, primarily in sales at SAP and before that at Software AG, where I was responsible for companies in various industries. Most recently, I was responsible for the so-called platform topics at SAP. These are technologies like the Internet of Things, analytics or databases, but also future topics like machine learning and block chain."

"Michael, at the end of 1989 you founded KMS and started developing software for car rental companies. How did that happen?"

Michael: "A friend had started a car rental business. I was doing a computer training at the time. Since there was hardly any software available, I started developing Autorent 2000, at that time under MS-DOS, while I was still in training."

"What would you call the milestones in the company's history?"

Michael: "Our first big project was the further development for the car rental company Robben & Wientjes. Autorent 2000 became RentOffice (Windows). The next milestone was our reservation platform on the Internet. Today many customers only work with RentOffice Cloud on the Internet." 

"In 30 years of software for rentals, have you ever felt that renting is a dying model?"

Michael: "No - our first company newsletter in 1991 already had an article on car sharing. Renting has always been topical, and in the future, sharing resources will become increasingly important."

"Stephan, you have worked for KMS before. When was that and what were your duties at the time?"

Stephan: "In fact, many years ago, I advised KMS for a period of about 2 years. At that time, the topics were business plan and financing as well as new business models. A major topic at that time was what we now call cloud or hosting of business applications. This means that KMS customers use the software via Internet and no longer have to install and operate it on site. Today, this is almost the standard for our customers, but also for the software industry as a whole.

"Michael, what made you ask Stephan to succeed you as Managing Director?"

Michael: Stephan already supported KMS a few years ago. The cooperation was trusting, successful and a lot of fun. That's why Stephan was always my preferred candidate. Now was the right time. Everything fitted together.  

"Is your retirement already fully planned or will you still be involved with KMS in the future?"

Michael: "No, I'm taking it easy, but I want to use the time for my hobbies; traveling, reading and photography. If I can help, I will be very happy to do so, as I am pleased about the positive development of kms."

"Stephan, as the new managing director, you surely already have plans for KMS. Could you tell us something about it?"

Stephan: "First, it is very important to me to continue to cultivate and intensify the good customer relations. The feedback from our customers from daily business processes is the driver of our innovations. Strategically, we are continuing to focus increasingly on the cloud with our product KMS RentOffice cloud as a Software as a Service solution. In addition, we will continue to expand the KMS Platform and enable our customers, partners and developers to implement their own applications based on our business logic via APIs. This provides the basis for quickly implementing new requirements based on KMS' many years of expertise. The complete operation of the backend is carried out by KMS, many important integrations, e.g. with payment providers, Schwacke or Schufa can be easily used". 

"The managing director's role involves a lot of responsibility and time. But you also have family. How do you reconcile both?"

This is indeed a balancing act that I had to master before, better or worse, and it remains a constant challenge. But I'm a real family man and try to spend as much time as possible with my wife and two children, for example on holidays together in the mountains, where we hike from hut to hut. This is the best way to clear your head and to tank up on energy and new inspiration. 

"You actually knew each other even before KMS. How?"

Stephan: "Yes, actually we have known each other for a very long time. Michael knows me even a little longer than I knew him, because he is a long-time friend of my father."

Michael: "In fact I've known Stephan since he was a little boy. The contact became closer after Stephan had worked with us for some time. It was a great time. At the moment, working together again is a lot of fun."

"So you also spend time together outside KMS?"

Stephan: "Occasionally we see each other at joint events with family and friends. And we once had a KMS running group to participate in the company relay, we should revive that."

Michael: "A good suggestion, I would be happy to accompany the training. Now there will be more opportunities for joint activities."

"Is there anything special you'd like to say today?"

Michael: "I'd like to thank all our clients for the years of trust and cooperation. I would like to thank all employees who made this possible. We see ourselves as service providers. I think Stephan will continue to nurture this."

Stephan: [nods approving]

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