Charting the Course for Decarbonizing Real Estate: Inside Strategy at ista

Michaela Hitzberger, the CTO and Head of Corporate Strategy at ista, shares the excitement and challenges of defining corporate strategies for a rapidly evolving industry. She discusses her team's focus on projects, strategic planning, and their notable successes in new product development. Offering insights into the potential career paths within her team, she emphasizes the unique opportunities and significant industry-wide impacts that working in ista's corporate strategy offers.
Michaela Hitzberger, ista
Profile picture


Question 1: Who are you, and what’s your current job title?

Michaela Hitzberger: Hi, I’m Michaela Hitzberger, head of Corporate Strategy and CTO at ista. I’ve been with ista for three and a half years now, and before that, I was in consulting for 14 years.

Question 2: What does corporate strategy mean to ista?

Michaela Hitzberger: At ista, corporate strategy means systematically defining the right way to deliver our growth path and derive the priorities for our organization.

Question 3: Corporate strategy comprises strategic planning, projects and ‘chief of staff’ type of work. Of these three, what is the focus of your team?

Michaela Hitzberger: Our focus in corporate strategy is mainly on projects. We evaluate new business models, conduct commercial due diligence, and manage mergers and acquisitions processes. We also carry out the commercial work to scale new business models and acquisitions, as well as conceptually designing transformational projects like the implementation of a scale agile organization.


Question 4: What is the team size and structure of the Corporate Strategy team?

Michaela Hitzberger: The corporate strategy team consists of about 10 people, the majority of whom have a consulting background ranging from three to eight years. The team is structured from senior consultants to senior managers.

Question 5: Describe a recent strategic initiative that the company has implemented and its outcomes?

Michaela Hitzberger: One of our notable strategic initiatives is a new product development project. The strategy team was deeply involved in the early stages, and we invested significant time into creating a new product generation. The initiative has been a major success, with both our clients and internal colleagues responding very positively to the new product, and we’re now scaling it.

Question 6: Which part of the corporate strategy process excites you the most and why?

Michaela Hitzberger: The most exciting part of the corporate strategy process for me is when the comprehensive analysis starts to form a clear picture. It’s exciting when we can take an informed decision about how to position in a certain business area and whether or not to pursue a position. I also find it exciting to see the actual business impact of our decisions, even if we’re not directly involved at that stage.

It’s exciting when we can take an informed decision about how to position in a certain business area and whether or not to pursue a position

Question 7: What career paths are possible for corporate strategists in your team?

Michaela Hitzberger: The corporate strategy team at ista is a place where people from consulting companies or outside the industry come to understand our business model, our products, our processes, and start building a network. Over time, based on personal preferences and available opportunities, team members can move into various roles within the organization. These roles can range from product owner roles for customer-facing products to managerial roles in operations, and more, depending on the individual’s skillset and preferences.

Question 8: Can you share some successful internal ‘exits’ from the team? Where have people gone after their time in corporate strategy?

Michaela Hitzberger: We have had team members transition into product owner roles where they now manage the full product development and product lifecycle management of customer-facing products. Another colleague transitioned from the corporate strategy team to become a regional operations manager, responsible for 17 operations branches within the company.

Question 9: Complete the following sentence: “Working in Corporate Strategy at ista is great because…”

Michaela Hitzberger: Working in Strategy at ista is great because you create an impact on two levels. First, on the industry level, as we are working to decarbonize the real estate industry throughout Europe. And secondly, on the company level, as we design the fundamental elements for ista’s growth story. Lastly, it’s great because you work in a team of former consultants in a consultant-like way, but without the extreme working hours.

Profile picture
About the author