The popular ‘A Day in the Life of…’ series is back for a second season with fresh new insights into the professional and personal lives of the people who make UniCredit a great place to work. This week, we chat to Max Imbiel, Head of Information Security at UniCredit Bank AG. Max loves sharing his knowledge of Cyber-Security topics and is proud of his team. He enjoys spending quality time with his family, working out, and the occasional drop of whisky.

2:30 min

Who are you, what did you want to be as a child and what do you do now at UniCredit?

I am Max Imbiel, and I live near Munich in Germany. Originally, I am from Berlin but moved to Bavaria almost 30 years ago. I got to know the Bavarian culture by marrying a beautiful local girl and am very soon to become the father of a second heartbreakingly cute girl.

As a kid I wanted to be a teacher. Being able to teach someone something and having a positive impact on an individual’s life fascinated me. But having to learn Latin at school kind of ruined it for me. Now, I work at UniCredit Bank AG as Head of Information Security and to be honest it is not that different from being a teacher. I am responsible for teaching a multi-thousand people corporation about Information and Cyber Security and I love it. So overall I would say, goal accomplished.



What do you enjoy most about your job and what is the proudest moment or greatest achievement of your career?

Again, I think what I really enjoy most is the ability to teach people about security and seeing that it sometimes takes root - not only in their business but also their personal lives. It fills me with great pleasure to see that the topics we talk about are becoming more and more embedded in the hearts and brains of all our colleagues and the whole organisation.

My proudest moments are when I receive acknowledgement and appraisal for the hard work my team is doing. I am fortunate enough to have such an amazing team, that this happens quite often. So, a lot of proud moments for me.

My greatest achievement was successfully running a pan-European multi-million Euro Data Security project and a couple of years later learning that my processes and presentations were still in use today by people I onboarded and put into the driver position.



And what is the hardest part of your job or most difficult moment at work?

The hardest part is when something fails, and the first reaction is to blame it on Security. Even though I keep a positive mind and try my best to resolve the issue - which is very often not related to security - it bugs me that this finger pointing is still happening.



What advice would you give your younger self or somebody considering this role as a career?

As I am completely happy with where I am today, I would probably still do what I did. It got me here and I would not change that for the world.

But for anyone interested in a career within Information/Cyber Security, I would say this. Train your social skills because security is always about people even if you are an engineer. Do not finger point security failures to others but try to educate them on how to prevent them. Learn from the best by reading! So many Security professionals have written about their line of work - you can probably read a book about everything there is to know. And finally, don’t be greedy!

How do you balance your professional and personal life?

Luckily the women in my life sleep a lot. Joking aside, there is always a thin line between those two lives. And balancing it is sometimes difficult. But I ask myself every day: did I take care of both sides to my fullest potential? And if the answer is “yes”, then I can sleep well at night. If it is “no”, I try to figure out where and why I need to adjust my life. It is not black and white. It is grayish, especially now that we are working from home more, which means I might have a call with a colleague while building a Lego tower with my kid.



What do you like to do to relax after a hard day at work/at the office?

For me it’s with my family - my wife and daughter. They ground me in a way that I completely switch off from work in a matter of seconds. I also like to work out. I felt frustrated with the pandemic at first, not being able to go to the gym, etc. But being able to do smaller, more focused workouts every day for a couple of minutes and not hours really showed me the potential of improving my posture from sitting around at home all day long.

Oh and am I allowed to mention the obligatory Islay whisky from time to time?



What would your perfect day look like when you are not working?

Sleep as long as possible, which is around 8am with a two-year-old. I would have a nice breakfast, go out and enjoy a beautiful warm and sunny day. Lunch with the family, an after-lunch-nap and then having family/friends over to socialise – which has been a little difficult of late - eat, drink, play, and be outside. Then I would tuck my kid up in bed, wait until she sleeps and have a relaxed and cosy end of the day with my wife and the right people at my side to celebrate.



What was the last book or the last movie you loved? And why?

The last book that had an impact on me was “Talking to strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. The amount of stereotyping and racism people have to endure every day is frightening and all that it would take to potentially eradicate it would be to talk openly – without prejudice – and try to see the position of the other side.

The last movie I really loved was probably “Sound of Metal” by Darius Marder. The movie depicts a Metal band drummer going deaf and his struggle to keep and regain his old social life and how he accepts his new life. Riz Ahmed depicts the main actor in such a way that you always feel empathy for him and the way the movie plays the sound effects of him becoming increasingly more deaf are both mesmerising and frightening.