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Julian valle de la luna Atacama
Julian Markopolsky on a hiking tour in the Valle de la Luna of the Atacama Desert in Chile: "Always happy to see how easy it was for me to organize a sabbatical."

– Company and Culture

Sabbatical while in a management position? It's possible with IKOR!


Solid planning and employer commitment required

Many employees dream of a sabbatical; Julian Markopolsky, Dock Manager at Finsure Integration, has fulfilled this dream. Together with his partner, Julian wanted to spend three months touring Canada, Costa Rica, Argentina and Chile. Taking this trip on short notice was not feasible. In addition to good employee planning, the employer also had to go along. No problem with IKOR.

"On the safe travel side"

As a department head at Finsure Integration, you are responsible for more than 50 employees. Can you simply take time out and go on sabbatical in such a position?

Julian Markopolsky: Simply taking time out to go on sabbatical without adequate preparation is not even feasible. You need a plan, binding agreements and above all a good team that catches that.

How difficult was it to forge this plan, make arrangements and activate the team?

Julian: It wasn't a problem at IKOR. I spoke with my supervisor Sven Schlünzen. He immediately said "yes" to my idea - and that I should clarify the basic procedure with HR right away, such as the duration of the sabbatical, start and end dates, insurance questions, etc.

Julian Markopolsky

Julian Markopolsky, who holds a degree in computer science, has been with IKOR since mid-2017. Juls, as he is usually called, is interested in nature, hiking, sustainability issues and loves to travel. As a department manager, called Dock Managers at IKOR, Julian is responsible for the insurance business outside of SAP topics in the Finsure Integration Dock - all with a strong focus on platform integration.

Then it was easy after all?

Julian: Yes, as simple as that. However, I learned in advance that approving a sabbatical is not as common in the branch as it is at IKOR.

Why is that?

Julian: We have a very open culture of discussion. In addition, the support of employees has a high priority throughout the company.

When did you take your sabbatical? Where did it go? And, were there any notable hurdles?

Julian: Our sabbatical lasted three months, from September to November 2022. There were hurdles along the way. However, they had nothing to do with our employers, but with the Corona pandemic instead, which initially threw our dream into disarray. This affected the time period as well as the destinations. Originally, we had Japan and Australia in mind. We ended up travelling to Canada, Costa Rica, Chile and Argentina.

Why did it become North and Latin America instead of Australia?

Julian: During our planning, even a few weeks before departure, we were not sure when, for example, Australia would open its borders and allow tourists into the country again. Even though we traveled very flexibly, a trip still needs solid planning: clarify finances, book flights and rental cars, and reserve initial accommodations. With Canada and Latin America, we were on the safe side.

How long did your preparation take?

Julian: If you want to take a sabbatical, you have to talk to your employer about it early on. That's the first important step. I spoke with my supervisor and HR more than a year before the planned trip. And I still consider this long lead time to be the most realistic.

How did you organize your job?

Julian: You need colleagues who can take over tasks and a designated person who officially represents you in the leadership function. If three people representing each other all have a longer absence planned at the same time, the project fails. This means that the second step is to clarify the personnel and/or coverage plan in consultation with management and HR, in advance, and certainly not at the last minute.

What else is attached to it?

Julian: Taking time off from work also requires careful planning to get the most out of this time. It's important to set clear goals and create a structured schedule that details the coverage plan for the entire team. It's critical to work together toward your goal.

Can you say something about the tasks that this involved?

Julian: In particular, all customer-related topics around account management, business development and sales, but of course also strategy development and the individual operational topics, had to be assessed and distributed. That sounds manageable, but it creates a lot of work. Especially since agreements, deadlines and much more have to be adhered to.


From Vancouver Island to Patagonia: Travel tips by Julian Markopolsky

Vancouver Island is one of Juls' favorite destinations. While most Canada fans are drawn to the east coast during the colorful Indian summer, British Columbia also attracts visitors with a color spectacle like no other. Costa Rica is famous for its wildlife. An interesting natural phenomenon is the local Arribadas: A few times a year thousands of turtles cavort for a few days on the east coast of Costa Rica, coming ashore one by one at dusk to lay their eggs.

According to Julian, the best way to travel in Argentina is by camper. A visit to the Perito Moreno Glacier in southwestern Patagonia (Argentina) is a must. This glacier is the only one in the world that is not shrinking but in balance due to its special microclimate. No wonder the Perito Moreno is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Juls Markopolsky Sabbatical Argentinien
Julian Markopolsky on hiking tour in El Chaltén/Argentina - with the impressive Fitz Roy in the background

Let's get to the sabbatical itself: What was the reason?

Julian: There are many reasons to take a sabbatical. Some are looking for a change, others for a reorientation, and some want a longer break. My girlfriend and I just wanted to take a vacation longer than three weeks. During our studies, we couldn't afford it. After that, we immediately started working and had yet to make time.

What inspired you the most?

Julian: We met people from all over the world who had a similar wanderlust like us. Some were on the road longer than us, six months or even a year. Some also traveled indefinitely. In our conversations, we also got to talk about work, which is something we can't avoid. I was always pleased to see how easy it was for me to organize the sabbatical.

Even the most beautiful journey comes to an end. How was the return along with settling back in?

Julian: I added two weeks of vacation to my sabbatical and went back to work in mid-December. I didn't have an adjustment period in the sense that I prefer to be at home, despite my restlessness. The operational part of the handovers went quickly. More attention was needed on issues that were important but not necessarily urgent. At the beginning of February 2023, I was back into everything.

Can you imagine taking another sabbatical?

Julian: Absolutely! However, I would organize it differently next time. Being on the road several weeks at a time no longer appeals to me. This need is satisfied for now. I would be more interested in a combination of traveling and volunteering: two weeks on the road, one and a half to two months on site with an organization, and the last two weeks to give free rein to my wanderlust. That would be great.

How did IKORians benefit from your trip?

Julian: Quite simply, I initiated a Barcamp during our next Dock (department) meeting and shared my experiences. Using a forest group as an example, it was about sustainability. That's what we talked about. Again, it's good to share your own knowledge and exchange ideas with each other.

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