Alexander Schweitzer describes himself as a straightforward guy, and his career at Bechtle is a case in point. Ten years ago, his first day at Bechtle also happened to mark his first venture into IT. Fast-forward a decade, in 2021 he’s one of two managing directors of Bechtle direct. When you look closely, though, his trajectory didn’t always follow such a straight line. In fact, when he first joined Bechtle, it took a surprising turn.
A savvy, businessy, smart-looking character, you couldn’t possibly tell that, before he joined Bechtle, Alexander was, in fact, an occupational therapist. He used to work with disabled people and pursued other social commitments outside his job, too. He was no stranger to leadership, heading a team of therapists, but there weren’t any more rungs to climb. When he was looking at Bechtle, however, the 39-year-old saw continuous growth and an industry that just wouldn’t stop. He liked what he saw, and—even when he barely knew a thing about IT—gave it a shot and applied for a job. Not much later he found himself in Account Management. He made no secret of his appetite for leadership, even during his probation period. He became team lead in 2014, and four years later moved on to regional sales manager. When he took part in the General Management Programme (GMP), Bechtle’s development initiative for aspiring leaders, the next rung up the ladder came within his reach. In 2020, he was called on to the board of Bechtle direct in Neckarsulm, and just a few months later took the helm as managing director. In a nutshell, it was always straight ahead.
To think that one day he’d be at the head of a team of 260 was, for most of his 10 years at Bechtle, “completely pie in the sky, especially coming from a whole different area,” says Alexander Schweitzer. He had a plan, though, and it worked out great: He always sought to widen his skills and knowledge, and “pick up whatever I can”. He engaged with the broad community of the Bechtle Group, collaborating, contributing, always pushing the philosophy of One Bechtle—the glue between about a hundred Bechtle companies. “You just work to fill your current role completely, do a good job, push at your edges and, eventually, you can take the next step,” he says.
It’s not a strategy that is compatible with any employer, he says. “To be co-creative and grow along with your company from the get go, that’s something you can do at Bechtle, but certainly not everywhere.” That’s just what he was missing before. Of course, there’s also always a bit of luck. “I was in the right place at the right time, and thanks to the GMP and some great mentors that always had my back I was ready to take on the challenge. And I am very grateful for that.”
In Alex’ book, the key to good leadership is to value your employees, also during challenging times. If your life is rich in experiences with different people, be that on a personal or professional scale, you have a critical advantage, he says. “And what better place to make such experiences than in social work? Whether you’re in OT or in IT, leading a team or running a company, it’s all about people coming together.”
What comes across as matter of fact now had to ripen over the years. He was often in doubt about sharing his background a long shot away from IT, because “people might consider that a bad call.” Today, however, he’s proud of the curious kink in his career. Because, who knows? Without it, he may never have taken off like he did.