Svenja Meier – Finance

Joined Kinzo in 2017

Hey Svenja, tell us about your early days at Kinzo…

I‘ve been with Kinzo since February 2017 and am one of the few people without an artistic or architectural background (although I almost started studying art). After my employment in a tax office in payroll accounting, I took a step back and started at Kinzo as assistant to the management. Luckily, this allowed me to get to know the company and its structures very quickly, and after a good two months, I was already fully integrated (also thanks to the great team!) But also thanks to my previous experience, I was promptly put back in charge of payroll and contract management and eventually took over accounting. Currently, I only work in financial accounting and controlling. Additionally, I am constantly involved in maintaining and improving our time recording, accounting and controlling system, called Projo.

What has changed in the time since you joined Kinzo?

Since I started at Kinzo, the office has grown even more. When I started, our administration team consisted of only about four people and there were no particular department divisions, everyone had their own focus, but they helped each other out or took on other tasks. Today, we are about seven people in administration and have built-up internal departments – from the office to HR, IT, PR & Marketing, and Finance. Despite the closer cooperation we had when I started, I like the development very much, it is much more structured and the work goes much faster and more accurately.

Jumping back – you mentioned Projo, could you tell us a bit more about the system and your involvement in it?

I started working at Kinzo at the same time, so to speak, when the decision was made that we would participate in a new project „Projo.“ Kinzo was one of the three pilot clients, in addition to D/Form and Hillig Architekten. It was founded in 2016 by Benedikt Voigt, a Berliner by choice, with the goal of developing an all-in-one solution specifically for interior architecture offices – which so far, he has succeeded in doing very well. At that time, we decided to co-design and build the online-based app as a pilot customer, because with other tools we would have had to cut back here and there in terms of usage, and it wouldn‘t have been just one tool, but probably several (we would have also had to continue using our great self-made Excel files ?

Projo is a complete package for us. We can use it to record the working hours of all employees, including managed working time and vacation account. We issue HOAI and other offers via Projo, from which we can set up a project structure and monitor, in addition, billings from travel expenses up to company-wide controlling. Projo as a program is not yet completely finished, but for us this means that we can continue to contribute our ideas; in addition, monthly user group meetings take place in which new features are discussed, and the application is optimized together with other users and the now four-man team.

Are there other things that have made working at Kinzo easier or better structured? Maybe something that has changed in the last four years that is now indispensable?

We use Datev online, and although we have to scan and account for the documents ourselves, we are more flexible in the workflow and have faster insight into evaluations and overviews on the documents. Also, Kinzo has (for the industry) a fair and employee-friendly employment contract.

You did further training in order to be an instructor for those doing vocational apprenticeship in your field. What did you learn from that experience?

The training to become an instructor was not about my specialist knowledge or my skills, but about the legal principles of training and primarily about the competencies, the soft skills. For example, how I can pass on my knowledge to the trainees using a wide range of methods and measures. We learned about the different types of learners and how to organize the learning material so that I don‘t over- or under-challenge the trainees. I enjoyed this training very much because my trainer exemplified what she taught and I can only hope that my future trainee will also have as much fun learning.

As one of the few at Kinzo who doesn‘t have an architecture background - do you still get excited about the projects?

I feel very comfortable here. In this colorful and creative environment, it is so exciting to follow the projects from shell to completion – the best way to see the progress is in the monthly Kinzo project update.

Favorite project?

My favorite projects so far are the Suhrkamp Publishing House and the Container Hostel.

Can you confirm that projects always take longer and become more expensive than originally planned?

If we were to get one cent for every project that was implemented and completed as originally planned, then now, we would have…one cent ?