Dominic Scherz, COO at Gentoo App, lives in Switzerland, where he pursues his Master's degree at the University of Zurich. Cathrine Schermann interviewed the 25-year-old over Skype.
Cathrine: Dominic, you just got back from TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco! How was it? Any favourite memories you would like to share with us?
Dominic: San Francisco was absolutely amazing! The energy at TechCrunch Disrupt was really inspiring: The amount of interesting and driven people in such a small space was overwhelming. Looking back now the week we spent in San Francisco feels like much more than just seven days, it was so packed with experiences. It's difficult to pick a single favourite moment but exhibiting in the Startup Alley in our bright orange T-shirts on Tuesday was definitively one of the highlights.
Cathrine: Nice! So, tell us about your role at Gentoo App!
Dominic: William and I have known each other for quite some time, we met at a Model United Nations conference in Nottingham. We've grown to be really close friends, despite the distance between London and Zurich. As such, we would often go to each other for advice, and when William founded Gentoo App, it naturally became a large topic in our frequent conversations. When he had to write texts related to Gentoo App, he would come to me for feedback and I soon became the content manager for Gentoo App. As time went on, I officially became the COO, essentially the right hand of the CEO.
Cathrine: What does a Chief Operating Officer exactly do?
Dominic: As the Chief Operations Officer of COO, my role is to support William in everything he does. This ranges from organising meetings, discussing new strategies and giving feedback on various matters to making sure he gets his morning coffee at conferences we attend together (laughs).
Cathrine: What did you do before joining the Gentoo App team?
Dominic: I have recently graduated from the University of Zurich with a bachelor's degree in English literature and language, Chinese (sinology) and political sciences. Next to my studies, I worked 60% as a shift supervisor at Starbucks for four years, where I learned to organise large teams, handled HR as well as sales. During my semester breaks, I also completed two internships, one as a translation manager and the other in marketing and communications.
Cathrine: What would you say makes you good at your job?
Dominic: I'd like to think of myself as a thoughtful and organised person with a critical mind. I can work independently and rely on few support structures, but I am also a great team-player who likes to coordinate and collaborate. My communication skills are my key asset in all of this; I believe listening to people and understanding their concerns before speaking is crucial for seeing the whole picture and making informed comments. I think this is why people value my constructive criticism.
Cathrine: What are your biggest challenges as a COO?
Dominic: Sometimes there's a lot happening all at once and I need to stay on top of it, getting the information I need to ensure productive communication and enable solid decision-making. That's not always easy, but my organisational skills really help me out there.
Cathrine: What do most people misunderstand about your occupation/field?
Dominic: Sometimes it is rather difficult to pin down what a COO does exactly because the tasks vary so greatly. I am here to ensure that things run smoothly. Sometimes that does take larger and more visible actions, but most of the time it's the small things that really make the difference in the end.
Cathrine: Why do you believe in Gentoo App as a product?
Dominic: It addresses some of the most basic problems that exist with the native contacts manager we have on our devices today. What's not to love?
Cathrine: You've know William for quite some time now, tell us something about him that nobody knows!
Dominic: I'm pretty sure some other people know this too but... When William swears, which he does rarely, he swears in Danish. I think that's pretty funny (laughs).
Cathrine: Finally, what is a fun fact about you?
Dominic: English is actually only my fourth language, I only started learning it in school at the age of 12 or so... that didn't stop me from taking it as a major at university though (laughs).