In the end, his former line manager at the university asked to speak to him – he was already working for umlaut, and he wanted his highly-valued employee to join him. Nikola agreed. Did his encounters with whale sharks and hammerhead sharks, or his explorations of sunken wrecks somehow influence his decision? 'I definitely think that diving has given me more self-confidence,' Nikola says.
Off into the cloud
Things standing still is no longer one of Nikola’s problems. 'I work in an environment in which technology is constantly developing.' In the cloud market in particular, it’s now very unusual for standards to be applicable for longer than two years. The engineers in his team are the company’s absolute experts in this area – their responsibilities include carrying out comparative reviews of cloud providers and setting up company-wide IT structures such as an AWS cloud (run by Amazon themselves as a benchmark).
Of course there is still some routine – security checks, system updates and all the issues that the ticket system throws at them. 'It's important to me to have some variation, but I do in principle also like to work in a systematic and well-structured way,' says Nikola. 'At least I like to be well-prepared for what lies ahead.' Maybe this is why diving is the ideal activity for him – it’s a sport where technology and experience can ensure that the risks taken are calculable.
Diving is like testing: a team sport
At least up to a certain point, as Nikola says – before launching into a final diving story, from the Weissensee, a lake in Austria. It was a rather cloudy day, which meant that visibility underwater was limited. 'Then suddenly a friend's breathing equipment got blocked – and air started streaming out in an uncontrolled manner,' says Nikola. Divers learn what to do if this happens in their first training course: stay calm, come up to the surface slowly. The rule of thumb is not to come up faster than the air bubbles from your own breath. In the darkness of the lake, Nikola kept his gaze on his diving partner's face. Air bubbles were rising. Nikola suddenly felt like he was sinking. 'I was so fixated on the bubbles against the fixed backdrop that I inverted the whole image in my head. It was really scary.' Luckily, he was with his partner. Both reached the surface ok.