Interview with Frank Müller, Chief Executive Officer at AXSOS, Germany – We have the opportunity to make an interview with Frank Müller, the CEO at AXSOS AG Germany. He and his company searched sustainable ways to scale their workforce, and they decided to open an office in Palestine. We asked him about this decision, and much more for the Outsourcing Destination Guide Palestine, commissioned by GIZ.
Frank, you are the CEO of AXSOS AG in Germany, which has been named the No. 1 Managed Service Provider in Germany. Can you give us a short introduction about AXSOS and how you managed to receive this distinction?
Sure we are an IT service provider providing services to our customers in the fields of IT-Infrastructure, Cybersecurity and Digitalization. We have three offices in Germany, one in Ramallah, one in Jerusalem and also an office in Thessaloniki.
Early on our journey as a company, we realized the shortage of competent resources in IT in the D/A/CH market (as well as globally) and decided not to follow other IT service providers to their offshoring or nearshoring locations.
It was key for us to create a USP (unique selling point) with our nearshoring approach. So the basic idea was simple. We have married the cultural advantages of the German (quality mindset, sticking to the processes) with the oriental culture (hospitality, human-centric) and created a new customer experience. And that is what we did over the last ten years.
We discovered even more valuable benefits in the Palestinian market on our journey. Due to their living situation, most Palestinians have developed a high situational intelligence (as I labelled it), a high resilience, and a great hunger for change.
These benefits are significant for our customers in D/A/CH as most of them are in the SMB and classical “German Mittelstand”, so they do not have extensive steering skills and resources, and there it comes in handy that our teams can “read in between the lines”.
That mixture and our diversity of cultures build the foundation for being granted such an award by our customers.
And AXSOS has a special connection to the ICT community in Jerusalem and Ramallah. So please tell us more about that. How this developed, and how the operation looks like today?
Well, I already had some experience through one year of voluntary youth work in the Holy Land End of the 90th. So that put it back on the radar when we looked for sustainable ways to scale our workforce. So the idea of the aforementioned marriage of cultures was born. Besides that, the aim of the different approaches to creating a new customer value, there was and still is a huge potential in the Palestinian labor force. They have a more than ~50% youth unemployment rate, and more than 45% of the population is below 15-45years. So there is vast potential to scale.
As this potential was not leveraged fast enough to be on a level an international customer expects, we took that levelling up in 2020 in our own hands and founded the AXSOS Academy. It is a bootcamp in which we train young Palestinians within 3,5 months to become qualified full-stack developers. We have trained about 200 graduates with a placement quota of more than 90% in the first market.
Today we provide services and solutions with the traditional business to our customers. At the same time, we train through our Academy young professionals for the market and ourselves to serve the rising demand for IT professionals in the IT markets globally.
I also read that Baden-Württemberg’s Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann has visited AXSOS AG’s branch office in Ramallah. How did this come, and what were the conclusions?
Winfried Kretschmann was planning to visit Israel, and through their support engagement for a college in Bethlehem, it was designed to combine it with a short visit to Palestine. So some of his entourage who had touch points with AXSOS before suggested paying us a visit
After taking a tour through our offices and chatting with our employees, Winfried Kretschmann was mainly impressed with the fact that we managed to marry the different cultures and learn from each other the positive cultural benefits while working on the disadvantages. So it happens these days that some of our Palestinian employees are more “German” than some German colleagues.
The other aspect he mentioned was the change and the positive impact we are creating in Palestinian society. Through creating future-oriented jobs, we make perspective and hope for young Palestinians and do our share on the way towards peace in the region.
We have been talking about social responsibility and cultural engagement. But at the end of the day, IT service is a business. Is working with IT professionals in Palestine a real business case?
Absolutely. But obviously, it needs smart business people to look a bit deeper. The benefits need a second look and a deeper understanding. Palestine is not the cheapest location, and in a pure comparison of hourly rates, services from Palestine can’t compete with eastern Europe and the far east.
If you take a second look and take into consideration the very specific USPs of the Palestinian market, then it becomes a real business case. A customer can save many overhead costs on the project management side. Based on our ten years of experience, customers also reduce through this USP’s the risk of a project failure.
Frank Müller has over 30 years of experience in the IT industry. His talent for structuring complex challenges and translating them into solutions is his core competence. His background of experience includes IT security and IT infrastructure, as well as application development. These three areas of expertise are also reflected in the range of services offered by AXSOS. Since 2009, Frank Müller has been a shareholder and board member of AXSOS AG.
Frank Müller was strongly influenced by his one-year stay in Palestine as a development worker with YMCA, where the difficult situation in the country once again challenged his creativity and flexibility. This inspired him to open an AXSOS subsidiary in Ramallah/Palestine. For Frank Müller, people and their cooperation with each other make the difference in all projects – deciding about success or failure. As the latest people-centered project, AXSOS and the Palestinian government founded the AXSOS Academy in Ramallah in 2020, which trains Palestinians on the job to become software developers in a 16-week boot camp.
Read more insights about ICT services delivery and collaboration opportunities with international recognised ICT services experts in our free Outsourcing Destination Guide Palestine