Jochen is a big strapping guy with a bald head and a long goatee-style beard. I first met him a few years ago when he helped me board a train as I headed home from head office in Germany. I wondered if he might drive off into the sunset on a motorcycle to visit a rock concert. It turns out, after visiting his YouTube channel, I was completely wrong about this. He’s bringing people together through music, but it’s music of a totally different genre.
I called Jochen early in the morning, ready to speak with him. “Are you ready?” I asked enthusiastically. “Er…just let me get some fresh coffee first”, he replied. With a suitable amount of caffeine flowing in the veins, he felt properly prepared and called me back.
Jochen has worked at EVS Translations for several years and is our IT Manager. He leads a team across four countries: Germany, the UK, the USA and Bulgaria. “That can’t be easy” I suggest, to which he replies thoughtfully, “the USA is the problem. The cable network in the USA is not good. It takes 130 milliseconds for any bit of data to arrive, which isn’t good. Three milliseconds is great” he chuckles, probably aware I have no idea what he’s talking about (ever feel your brain start to fog up a little when you speak to IT people?). “So, what keeps you busy every day?” I ask him lightly. “It’s two things, really”, he says. “Providing support from our global helpdesk for all workstations and working to constantly improve the network; make it faster, more reliable and safer”. With Jochen in charge, we certainly all feel safe and well taken care of.
Times of crisis
Of course, the past two or three weeks have been… busy. “As the pandemic arrived in Europe, I worked closely with our HR department. There were long days”, he recounts. “All the usual work had to wait until everyone went home. Then it’s time for a lot of admin. But we tested, planned for probable courses of action and acted quickly. So, we were pretty well prepared. Things took a bit longer at first; computers behave differently at home”. His mind wanders as he adds, somewhat wistfully, “You can’t go into the kitchen now to see your colleagues. That’s important to have that interaction.”
Bringing people together through music
But, on that point, I’m aware of the activities Jochen is involved in to bring people together. It turns out that Jochen is not into rock. He’s more of an ‘ambient sounds’ kind of guy. “I’ve been playing ambient music for many years now. I started collaborating with a video artist and we had a premiere of our latest album at the end of March. We usually do movie nights. He plays a video and I’ll play the music to accompany it. We’ve got a live performance coming up on YouTube next week. I’ll be in my home studio and my friend, who’s an author, will read her work while I play the soundtrack to it.”
It’s wonderful when you find out these fascinating back stories to your work colleagues. I visited his YouTube page and was very impressed by his very moody, eerie uploads which are probably best enjoyed late at night in a dark room. However, just as quickly as that thought enters my mind Jochen adds: “We don’t want ‘social distancing’. The music and videos are for ‘social solidarity’”. And you can hear in Jochen’s voice that this means a lot to him. How his music can help to unite people through shared enjoyment of art. I wish him the very best of luck with his virtual concerts. I let him get back to working on his networks to achieve that tantalising three milliseconds he so hopes for.
You can visit Jochen’s YouTube here.
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