Till Balser – 62 years, family man, founder of Tiba Management Consulting and successful entrepreneur for over 30 years, optimist, philosopher, and team player – his life’s work to this day is characterized by his upbringing, an early understanding of economic activity and the deep conviction that freedom and responsibility are firmly linked. Based on this principle, he built Tiba Management Consulting, leads his employees and inspires numerous people. His actions are shaped by a positivism that developed from early childhood. We interviewed him about his life and achievements.
Till, when you think of childhood, what comes to mind?
Homemade apple juice and fresh fruit from the garden! Instead of “Bluna” (soda) and potato chips, we had everything homemade, something that came from the heart. My childhood was rather modest, but very happy! Family, trust, freedom and responsibility were values that were exemplified to me in early childhood. My parents didn’t have much and yet they managed to lead a family of six through life with little resources, without us lacking fundamentals. It has always been important to me that there was harmony. That’s why I often took on the role of conflict mediator in our family. And I still do that today when there are conflicts within Tiba (laughs).
When did your business acumen develop?
I think it started as a 10-year-old boy in the schoolyard: Some of my classmates often received comic books from their parents. After they read them, they didn’t really need them anymore and so I helped other classmates, whose parents did not give them these books, to obtain comic books with a fair trade. Sales must never be solely driven by self-esteem and to increase the profit of the broker but must always and in principle contribute to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Even early on as a child I realized this – perhaps not exactly in these words, but with this sentiment.
You were already socially and politically involved at a young age – how did that come about?
I was at the Simpert-Kraemer-Gymnasium (Highschool) in Krumbach, when I got involved in something for the first time: At the age of 16, I took over as the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper and developed a political polemic. Although this would result in various discussions with my director and the Bavarian Ministry of Culture, it did not dampen my will to stand up for the good and to get involved. I later became a member of the Numerus-clausus-Initiative e.V., which fought to get a fair entry into academic life for young people. At the age of 16, after extensive research, I joined the FDP. A year later I founded a new local branch of the FDP (Free Democratic Party). At that time I was the youngest local chairman of the FDP in Germany. In my first contested election campaign, I quadrupled the election result – long-established member of the FDP were amazed (laughs).
The idea for Tiba Management Consulting actually arose as a result of your very first job after graduation. What was that like?
During my studies of economics, with Americanism on the side, at the FU Berlin, I already worked part-time: first as a research assistant for the Chair of “Political Economy”, then as an IT consultant for a software house that had developed project management software. During my consulting work, I quickly noticed that companies needed more than pure project management software – rather, there was a lack of basic understanding of project management. Therefore, at the age of 29, I founded Germany’s first project management consultancy in Gauting: Tiba Managementberatung GmbH. With Tiba, we set standards for today’s project management throughout Germany right from the start. With my holistic and systemic approach, I was – alongside Prof. Gareis from WU Vienna – the first project management expert in the German-speaking world.
What goal did you have in mind when you founded Tiba?
Tiba Managementberatung GmbH should not only be economically successful, but also a fair company for all sides: From the beginning, I was convinced that I could create a company that served not only customers and business partners but also its own employees. With the help of modern leadership, I built a working environment that brought joy, freedom and responsibility to everyone. Leadership at eye level with appreciation, trust and approachability has been in the foreground for me since Tiba was founded. Hierarchical behavior and authorities are against my understanding of a functioning coexistence. Rather, it is important to me to hand over freedom and responsibility to my employees.
Building a company in this form also requires unconditional commitment, especially in uncertain times. How has this manifested itself in the past?
Yes, those who are committed to their company are willing to give a lot. We have also passed stormy waters with Tiba in the past: The first time after the economic crisis in 2002 – when I sold my single-family home to lift Tiba out of financial difficulties. In 2019, we carried out a change in our own company – internal errors in the management structure and the slowing economy had led to a rapidly growing loss. After Tiba was rehabilitated, the pandemic followed with the next crisis in 2020. But we were also able to safely manoeuvre ourselves out of this and even develop further: Today, Tiba Management Consulting not only operates project management, but also process, change and organizational management. In the future, entire transformation processes will be necessary in companies in order to adapt to digitization, climate change and the problems of our time. It makes me proud that we have come so far together with Tiba and that we are even drawing something positive from crisis situations! This is the merit of every single employee in the company – we can only make a difference together.
You are not only a successful entrepreneur, but also a father with your heart and soul. Shortly after your divorce, daughter Chiara decided to move in with you at the age of 10 – since then you have been a single father. How did you deal with it?
As a single parent, you are in constant conflict between the needs of the child and the job. It is a balancing act that you also try to keep at the expense of your own needs. My first priority is always my family and thus my daughter. Because nothing is more worthy of protection than a strong family bond.
How do you see your personal future? What is your claim?
I want to do things differently, driven by my philosophy of freedom and responsibility. In accordance with this philosophy I built up my company, I manage my employees, I educate my daughter and I get involved as far as my time allows. This is also important to me for the future. In everything I do, I want to keep myself at all times reminded of the essentials in life: fair cooperation, harmony, exchange, freedom and responsibility for all people equally. A strong family, a strong Tiba – these are my wishes for the future. No more and no less!