This week, we chat to Stephan Knechtel, Head of Real Estate & Logistics at UniCredit Bank Austria. He’s a team player with a hands on approach and enjoys a spot of “Shinrin Yoku” to relax and recharge. Find out more!

2:00 min

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

Who am I? One question to which there are a variety of possible answers. Well, first of all, I am Stephan A. Knechtel. I have been happily married for 25 years. I’m the father of a wonderful daughter and the master of our family dog - Lagotto Romagnolo - who goes by the name of Gatsby. The whole family lives in Klosterneuburg, a small suburb of Vienna.  When I was a child, I wanted to be a pilot, a rally driver or a superhero. As I got older, my aspirations became more down-to-earth and I decided I wanted to become a cabinetmaker. I still love the smell of freshly cut wood, even today. I ended up at university and got my Master’s in economics. I then worked in Austria and various countries in Asia before joining Bank Austria about two decades ago. Here, I have held various positions in Vienna, Milan and CEE. My current professional role is Head of Real Estate & Logistics Austria at UniCredit Bank Austria.


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

Operational work with colleagues is what I like most and I am lucky to be part of a fantastic team. I think ‘implementing tasks’ is my thing, and I’ve been pretty successful at it as I’m a team player. I always count: 1 plus 1 makes 3 when it comes to sharing opinions and experiences. It makes me proud every time we achieve a goal together and feel that team spirit of being the champions in our world, be it in big or small way. My greatest achievement was planning and executing the fit out of our Vienna Headquarters CAMPUS. When we moved in as the first unit 3 years ago, I can't tell you how good that felt.


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

Not having enough time for all the interesting details I could get into. So, sometimes it's hard to leave my team alone with daily business and taking care of my leadership responsibilities and solving strategic tasks. I also often have to prioritise differently during the day due to the dynamics of our business. That is sometimes quite difficult to manage.


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

Find your values that you want to stand by and are willing to fight for, and search for the mission that really drives you. Based on that, do "your thing," no matter what it is, because that's what you'll be good at and that's what will make you content.

How do you balance your professional and personal life?

Relatively simple: separate - once there's one and then more of the other. And when my daughter says "Dad, you look really exhausted," I know that I quickly need more of the other.


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

"Shinrin Yoku", which is the Japanese expression for "forest bathing" and a wonderful way to relax and recharge. I can do this very well in the nearby Vienna Woods with my wife and our dog.


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

Late family breakfast with a table full of goodies and two to three cups of home-brewed mocha. Time to read the newspaper and slowly start gardening. Afterwards, glide into the evening and enjoy the cultural variety on offer or have conversations with family and friends, which are accompanied by a good glass of barrique wine.


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

Can you call two times about 15 pages a book? In any case, "Outrage yourselves!" &"Engage yourselves!" by Stéphane Hessel is worth reading. The essays have encouraged me on the one hand, but also made me think.