Cogs Berlin was founded five years ago and has seen increasing success since, with year-on-year progress and development.
We caught up with Jan Pautsch, Associate Director Experience Design at Cogs Berlin, for an update on how the team is getting on and what the current German digital market is like. From settling into the new office space to changes in the team, Jan gives us the low-down.
Hi Jan, how did you come to work at Cogs Berlin?
I’m new in the recruitment role. I started at Cogs Berlin one and a half years ago. Originally, I came from the agency world and I have a creative background. In my last role I was Executive Creative Director for a digital full-service agency in Berlin, and two years ago I decided to leave to start something new.
Then I found Cogs … or Cogs found me, and I started here as Head of Creative. Now, as an Associate Director with design experience at Cogs, I’ve gone back to my roots – reconnecting and building a huge, new and very international network of brands, companies and start-up agencies.
I really enjoy being at Cogs, particularly because I can build it together with Kimberly Bohle, Associate Director and Director of Operations as well as with the team of Cogs Berlin.
What’s the focus for the Cogs Berlin team?
So, this is the strategic plan for Berlin: Building it up to be the European headquarters. The activity right now in the UK, for example Brexit, is influencing this initiative. Previously, all our focus was towards Germany with a strong focus on Munich, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Berlin of course.
Berlin was the focus of our work, but for now, we are starting to work across Europe in very close collaboration with our colleagues in London and of course our colleagues in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Berlin is a very vibrant city and this gives us fantastic opportunities for new business. As you may know, many companies have decided to move to Berlin (as a result of Brexit, for example). There is even a recent press release from Samsung stating that they are planning to open Samsung Next, their venture fund office in Berlin, choosing the city over London.
Also in the press release is an interesting quote where they say “London is not fun unless you’re really rich”. This is what Samsung cites as the reason for choosing Berlin. I think this applies for much of the things happening internationally.
With clients coming over to Berlin as well as the talent that’s coming, there’s a huge stream of activity, and therefore the Cogs platform with the international offices is a fantastic base.
What changes and trends have you noticed in the digital market?
Then you have clients opening digital labs and innovation labs like Porsche Digital Lab, Digital:Lab Volkswagen and Oetker Digital. The latter is one of our clients. So along with the digital brands, agencies and innovation labs, we’re seeing a popular trend in management consultancies and innovation hubs opening. Then you have IT giants like IBM merging or buying creative agencies, and finally you have the vibrant start-up scene here in Berlin.
Even if you have things like what happened with SoundCloud when they had to let people go, it shows the start-up world is transforming and changing. But despite this it’s growing fast and especially here in Berlin. Particularly in this field.
What changes have you noticed in clients in Berlin and Germany?
It’s a mix of different kinds of clients but in the end – with our service having a very strong focus on experience design, service design, client services, strategy, marketing, social, data and tech – we have an ideal business foundation for continuing our relationships and new business. Here at Cogs Berlin we’ve seen steady growth in these areas in the last month.
What has 2017 been like so far and how is it set to continue?
Seven months ago, we moved into a new space right in the centre of Berlin in Mitte. The new location is a really fantastic, large, open loft. Currently, Cogs Berlin is a team of seven people.
It’s an international team with colleagues from the Ukraine, America and Germany. Excitingly, we are looking to grow to ten people by the end of the year, so more change is on the horizon.
How is the Cogs Berlin office structured?
We have three desks at the moment. One is the creative desk, which I head. It’s focused on roles in the fields of Strategic and Experience-Design, including Product and Service Design from mid-level to executive.
Then we have a client services desk that Kimberly heads up, which focuses on Client Service Executives, Strategy, Project Management, Online Marketing, Content, Social Media, Data, Business Development, and Digital Transformation Consultants.
There is also the tech desk, which focuses on Frontend/Backend Developers, QA from mid to senior level, Head of Engineers and CTOs.
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We’re currently thinking about adding additional fields to our expertise, so data, of course, is a vast topic, data analytics and data analysts will also be very interesting.
So yes, there are plans for expanding the Cogs Berlin team but in a conscious way, so we meet business needs first before we make this next step.
From a design perspective, the whole field of service design, experience design etc., is opening a lot of doors in companies, in start-ups and innovation hubs.
Is there much international collaboration with the other Cogs offices?
And besides the day-to-day work, we also try to establish a certain Cogs culture here in Berlin. We see Cogs Berlin as an open space and invite people to participate. Last year we had a big event here – the Cogs Crunch event about working between London and Berlin – across cities working in the field of UX Design.
We invited three London Brand Strategists and Experience Designers to speak to an audience about their experiences of working between Berlin and London. It was very successful and we want to continue this as a series, so Cogs Berlin can become a thought leader in this field and active in the community here.
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In terms of the way we work, we are very collaborative. We try to experiment with processes from Agile, working in Sprints and using adapted Kanban methodologies so that everyone at any one time has a transparent overview of all projects.
And there are more methodologies and processes we have installed here, so that our way of working is closer to that of our clients.
Cogs Berlin sounds like an exciting place with a finger directly on the pulse of the digital market. Thanks Jan for your time and for such a great insight into your team’s work.