Half a century at Deutsche Telekom

Working for the same company your entire life? It used to be the standard in many industries, ensuring a secure livelihood, but is hardly imaginable for today's young professionals. Careers like Kurt Koch's will be increasingly rare in the future. He has served customers at Deutsche Telekom for half a century and experienced the technological transformation up close. His advice for professional life: Always stay curious!

Kurt Koch

Most of your colleagues couldn't possibly imagine working for the same company for 50 years. How do you feel looking back on such a long period of time?

Kurt Koch: To be honest, I don't think a great deal about it at all. The most important thing, of course, is remaining mentally and physically fit – and I'm lucky to have managed both.

Do you remember what it was like when you began your career?

Kurt Koch: I started working at Deutsche Bundespost – Germany's federal post office and the forerunner of Deutsche Telekom – in Koblenz. I was 15 years old when I began my apprenticeship as a telecommunications technician. For 25 years, I worked closely with technology before switching to sales at Deutsche Telekom in the early 1990s. I started out as an account manager at Deutsche Telekom before transferring to T-Systems Business Services in 2005, where I have mainly been responsible for public-sector key accounts. Contact with people, specifically customers, in the telecommunications sector is something that is very important to me.

Half a century at Deutsche Telekom – you must've experienced technological change firsthand.

Kurt Koch: Absolutely. In technological terms, an incredible amount has happened in that space of time. Do you remember rotary dial phones? Today, you can use a Jabber client on your laptop to telephone, chat or take part in conference calls over Internet protocol. I still recall the first C-network mobile phones. They weighed as much as 5-10 kg and you lugged them around with a shoulder strap. Now we all have smartphones that weigh less than 200 grams. We started with copper wire and now we're talking to our customers about fiber-optic networks with speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second. That's a gigantic technological arc.

Any insider tips about how to maintain your professional momentum and remain so active?

Kurt Koch: Always keep pace with change. There was never a day in the last 50 years that I didn't encounter something new. I was interested in every new technological development and asked myself: "What's it good for? What can I do with it? How will it benefit my customers?" By doing that I kept up with the latest trends. So my tip would be: "Stay curious or you'll be left behind."

Young woman meets Robot

Digital responsibility

Experts discuss about chances and risks of digitization.

Young woman meets Robot

Digital responsibility

Experts discuss about chances and risks of digitization.