Article by: Marlon Schuhfleck


Ulli Ehrlich, Sportalm, Kitzbühel

Work and lifestyle on the cutting edge. In discussions with contemporary figures we review the assertions, clichés and ideals which circulate around work environments. This time we had a conversation with Ulli Ehrlich. The Head of Design and Managing Director of the Sportalm family business resides in Kitzbühel. She spoke with Marlon Schuhfleck about sources of inspiration, daily challenges and the exciting effect of the colour white.

Since the 1990s, Ulli Ehrlich has given the Sportalm collections their distinctive character. The broad spectrum of their creations ranges from sports clothing to stylish wardrobe staples and playful traditional fashion. She always knows how to bring the regional roots of the family business into an international, modern context. And success has been on her side: By now, Sportalm is one of the most successful companies in the Austrian fashion world.

Traditional, functional, regional, and yet always modern, stylish and international - Sportalms' range bends boundaries.  Ms Ehrlich, how did this very unique company positioning come about?
Traditional dress has always been part of Sportalm's portfolio. When we bought Franz Kneissl, the product range was complemented with ski fashion and then about 10 years ago we took the plunge into fashion. We believe that our alpine lifestyle can be successful anywhere, not just in the mountains. In the meantime, this has developed into a very fashionable clothing collection which we can sell worldwide.

What is a typical day like for a creative designer at Sportalm?  Or is there no such thing as daily routine in your work?
Of course, there is  a daily routine of office work and meetings, but every day is definitely exciting, because we always work on a collection, prepare a trade show or photo shoot. There is always something new to do.


Work in Progress: The Project Manager

Some say it was the wrath of God, others state it was arrogance.

True, the reasons for the failure of the mythical Tower of Babel may be disputed. However, despite this dispute, we would like to use this example to present to you the job of a project manager as part of our info series Bene Office "Work in Progress" in which we look at specific occupations. A profession which has become so sought after in our modern professional world.

Project managers are by now in demand in pretty much all sectors. Desperately in demand, one may want to add. Project management is modern and popular. It is the absolute economic magic word and makes a kind of promise. But stop! One thing after the other. Let's have a look at what a project manager normally deals with: A project.  And we shall use a mythical story to explain this concept.


Work in Progress: The Intern

It seems in general that the traditional three career stages of education, work and retirement have been expanded since the turn of the millennium with a separate stage of ‘internship’. The phenomenon of the internship has since changed from a planned transitional aid and an interim stage to a genuine (career) stage. This stage can also last for significantly longer periods of time than some interns may prefer. The result: traditional milestones in life planning such as your own home, starting a family and having children are postponed more and more on account of the lack of financial security. Sometimes all that remains is the chronic frustration of moving from one temporary solution to the next without finding your permanent place. 

This basic scenario has now made its way into everyday vocabulary as a familiar phrase with the so-called “internship generation”, suggesting that the phenomenon does not involve special individual cases but is becoming a real trend in the labour market. It is a trend that is arousing loud voices in the media who are calling for statutory regulation.

Basically a good idea

It is of course hard to find anything wrong with the idea of an internship. This practice, which goes back to the 17th century, is basically aimed at enabling individuals to gain in-depth knowledge and skills at an early stage. As such the internship is ideally a temporary link or a supplement to education, with the focus on gaining practical work experience. In this regard the internship acts as a useful aid for getting started and finding your way in the (often confusing) expanse of the working environment.


Are you special?

Just a general question: are you special? Is what you do special? You will probably be inclined to answer this question with a resounding Yes! Of course, because specialisation is all the rage. Any self-respecting person specialises in something – whether professionally, academically or in any other area.

At the start of our new Bene Office.Info series “Work in Progress”, which will be all about special job profiles, we will take a long and careful look at this...

The specialisation of specialisation

Specialisation is an engine of civilisation which drives progress, and drives knowledge. Specialisation is one key, if not THE key, for managing both the floods of information which descend upon us daily along with the requirements of everyday life. Particularly in the 21st century, specialisation seems to be the absolute guarantee for success. Specialisation is … but let’s slow down a bit! We should take a closer look at this. After all, there is one thing we certainly don’t want to do as we look at what is special and at specialisation: to generalise! 

The special thing about specialisation

When we talk about specialisation, we usually mean focusing on a particular specialist area, a topic or an activity. By definition therefore, specialisation represents a conscious restriction, where someone moves away from the higher-level context and dedicates their attention exclusively to a particular part of an item. In this sense the act of specialising is a conscious setting of limits, corresponding with movement from the general to the specialised.