Insights

Working in Quantum. Insights and behind-the-scenes with ParityQC’s Anton Flir

In our Working in Quantum interview series, we put the spotlight on the people that are part of the flourishing quantum computing industry. This time we talk with Anton Flir, our Director of Operations Germany, who leads the team and manages daily operations of our German subsidiary in Hamburg.

Anton is originally from Tyrol, he studied Physics at the University of Innsbruck and then took managerial roles working in the field of optics and lighting. After ParityQC Germany was founded, back in 2021, Anton was put in charge of operations of the new subsidiary and led this exciting new chapter for our company.

What’s your role at ParityQC? 

In addition to the regular scientific exchange with the team and the work on our projects, as Director of Operations in Germany I am responsible for the framework conditions of our daily work. This includes all legal and financial aspects and everything related to strategic orientation, planning and appropriate reporting.

Can you tell us a little about your academic and career path?

Science programs such as the “Knoff Hoff Show”, the “Curiosity Show” or the “Sendung mit der Maus” inspired me as a child to learn more about natural phenomena and technology. Physics lessons and books on astronomy gave me the most detailed answers to the question of how and why. Every insight led to new questions, which constantly fueled my thirst for knowledge. Studying Physics at the University of Innsbruck gave me the opportunity to concentrate fully on this thirst.

A particular highlight of my studies was spending many months setting up an experiment that brought lightning-fast 100°C hot Cs atoms to a standstill over a length of less than one meter, using only the power of light. The atoms are then trapped in a cage of light and cooled to near absolute zero. The temperatures achieved in this way are colder than anything previously measured in the universe (outside of laboratories). This is a process that is now (almost 20 years later) standardized and used in many quantum computers.

The subject of light and optics determined the rest of my career. I was able to learn from the renowned Tyrolean lighting designer Bartenbach that light, in addition to the properties I was already familiar with, also has a strong effect on the psyche and well-being. With the focus on people and their perception, we developed luminaires and entire lighting concepts. Bartenbach’s research makes a decisive contribution to the definition of “good light”. 

In my previous job at Swarovski, I was given the opportunity to build up a multidisciplinary team that combines all the skills required for the development, marketing and quality assurance of industrial optics. In addition to recruiting suitable experts, the focus was on forming a team that was able to focus on a common goal and align all actions accordingly.

What skills and mindset have you developed previously that became useful in your current role?

Many of the aspects of scientific work can be transferred to areas that at first glance have nothing to do with physics. As in the natural sciences, it is also important when resolving conflicts or evaluating and optimizing processes to first distance oneself from one’s own expectations in order to understand the underlying mechanisms as objectively as possible. Only when these are clear can weak points be identified at an early stage and long-term solutions developed. 

Once a team of experts has been put together, the things that are most crucial to the success of a team are: mutual respect and mutual recognition of individual expertise, as well as knowledge of the respective weak points and how to deal with them correctly. This can also be applied to establish a successful collaboration with external partners.

You’ve been with ParityQC since the founding of our German company. What were your main goals for leading this new subsidiary when first starting out, and what is your mission now for the future?

On my first day at ParityQC, we were already working on 5 projects with the German subsidiary. The biggest challenge was to bring myself up to speed in terms of both content and framework conditions. This was only possible because I was able to get off to a flying start with an excellent team.

My mission for the future is to position us as well as possible for the transformation from a successful company in a state-funded environment to a leading company in a hotly contested quantum computing market.

What are the 3 most rewarding experiences you had in these years working for ParityQC?

First, we were delighted when we were awarded the contract by DLR for the largest tender for quantum computers. This is a great success and at the same time a recognition of our contribution to the quantum ecosystem.

The opening of our new office in Hamburg was also a highlight, as it created a place for us to work together creatively on solutions. Moving to Hamburg and setting up the office together brought our team closer as well.

Finally, in my daily work with our team, I regularly receive confirmation that we have made a good choice in our staffing and I am always pleased to see how much can be achieved with a team of talented and highly motivated people.

How is team-work encouraged and coordinated within the company? 

Within ParityQC, we are organized in a matrix structure. This ensures that there is a contact person with the relevant expertise for all aspects that are important to our work in the projects. Mutual respect and the commitment of each individual to achieve a common goal within a set timeframe promote the trust of the team members in the respective team.

The personal exchange between our employees is very important for the creative solution of problems. That is why we attach great importance to creating rooms with an inviting atmosphere in our offices.

ParityQC Germany is part of several joint projects in Germany, commissioned by the government as well as the DLR (German Aerospace Center). What are the main things that the company is bringing to the table, in your opinion? 

Part of our work aims to lead the current, small and still very error-prone QC demonstrators of the NISQ era to solve industry-relevant problems. On the way to fully error-corrected quantum computers, the scalability of current systems poses a major challenge. This is where we deliver a decisive advantage with the ParityQC Architecture and ParityOS operating system. 

What are you busy with right now, and what is particularly challenging about it?

Right now, with this interview! In addition, we are currently expanding our team to be prepared for upcoming projects. We are currently looking for a Back Office Manager for the office in Hamburg to support me in my tasks, as well as several technical roles.

What inspires you to come to the ParityQC office every day? 

I enjoy actively shaping the success story of ParityQC. At ParityQC, I can contribute my skills and experience in a scientific environment and have the feeling of being involved in one of the most relevant developments of our time.

If you’re interested in joining ParityQC’s journey, don’t forget to check out our open roles on LinkedIn and in our Careers page!

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