Magento Q&A: Sonja Riesterer

February 27, 2018

Sonja Riesterer is a certified Magento Master and marketing manager at the German agency integer_net. She is also a talented ballroom dancer.

What’s the Magento community like in Germany?
It’s exciting! There’s finally some movement to upgrade to Magento Commerce 2. Germans don’t usually adapt to new things easily, or change our way of working very quickly. Now people are finally ready to tackle it. There’s a lot of meetups and events going on.

The agency integer_net is based in Aachen. Is that a big place?
Officially it’s a large city but it doesn’t feel like it. I moved here from Hamburg, which is a lot bigger, and I prefer the compact size of Aachen. It’s a young population, there are lots of technical, IT, and engineering students. It’s famous for the Aachen Cathedral, and as soon as you move out of the city center it starts to become very green.

You co-organize the Magento Meetup there, how many people come along?
About 10-15 people. It takes place every two months. The aim of Andreas von Studnitz and I is to host talks suitable for developers and non-tech people. There’s another one in Cologne, about 50 or 80 Kilometers away, organized by Carmen Bremen. We keep in touch to make sure people like to attend both meetups.

When did you first discover Magento?
The first day of my first full-time job. At the interview they asked me, ‘do you know Magento?’ and I said no. On my first day they said: ‘Welcome to the job, and this is Magento!’ That was when I first saw the back-end of a store. Lots of gray and orange and many words I couldn’t understand! But I loved it.

How did you get involved in the Magento community?
At that job, my boss was the founder and organizer of the Magento meetup in Hamburg. Two months after I started we had a meetup, and since I didn’t know anyone, he said: ‘Just make sure people enter the right door and greet them.’ I still do that today!

You live a secret double life as a ballroom dancer. How did you start?
When I moved to Aachen I decided to pick up dancing. That was in October of 2015. I started just for fun in the evenings. After about a year, my dancing partner said he’d prefer to dance with his girlfriend so I found a new partner. He is more into training and tournaments.

How often do you train?
We train three or five times every week. Last Sunday we had our first tournament. I had to get up at 5.30am to do my hair and make-up, and then go to a city 150km away, just for about an hour of dancing.

Did you win?
No. It was a tough competition! We finished in fifth place out of six couples. There is room for improvement.

What kind of music do you dance to?
Chart music mainly, but with a modified rhythm. There is some Meghan Trainor, some Robbie Williams, some classical music too.

Are there any similarities between ballroom dancing and eCommerce?
Yes. You learn to criticize people in a positive way. Most days it’s just my dancing partner and I, no coach. So, we have to communicate with each other and find out things that could be improved. Sometimes there’s something he could do better, or there’s something I’m doing wrong. Constructive criticism is important in dancing…and eCommerce.

What do you do during the day?
It’s a lot of writing and analyzing how things could be improved. For integer_net I take care of the marketing topics, and we have our own online store for camping accessories.

Your agency has its own eCommerce store?
Yes! SpaceCamper-Shop. Our agency was founded by four people, two of these people have projects very dear to them. For Andreas, it’s IntegerNet_Solr, the Solr extension for Magento, and for Christian, it’s the camping store.

What’s it like working on a real store?
I like the idea of applying the knowledge I have of Magento and the eCommerce sphere to a real online store. I manage a lot of things for the website, from product data to marketing and customer service. This experience comes in handy when I do Magento training or consulting.

What platform is the camping store on?
It’s on Magento Community Edition.

Cool. Do you like camping?
I’ve never been camping, unless you mean in tents at festivals! People here say that I should go camping. Looking at the photos from other campers, I’m sometimes tempted to try it out but I really like a nice bed and a nice shower, without having to walk across a campsite.

What was the last thing that you bought on the internet?
Shoe polish for my winter boots in a rather extraordinary color, a type of burgundy called "opera." I also bought a book called Dance Anatomy to better understand the muscles involved in my dance moves.

What are your goals for 2018?
My work related goal will be set soon but I have a goal for dancing. In our class, we want to finish in the top three in a competition.

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