Women in tech: An interview with 4 inspiring colleagues
International Women’s Day marks an important date for women across the world, as it serves as an occasion to take actions towards driving gender equality forward and shed light on issues that still need to be tackled. This year is the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of the talented women that work here at NTS Retail. On this occasion, we sat down with a few of them to talk about their own career paths and aspirations. We are very pleased to share their answers with you, as their advice might inspire other women to pursue a career in a technical profession. Meet our interviewees Christiane Altendorfer, Cornelia Hoffmann, Nina Wolf, and Ute Brigola.
Question 1: What is your role at NTS Retail? Can you shortly introduce yourself?
Christiane: I have been working in NTS Retail’s business development team for the last three years. My main tasks include the acquisition of new customers and the account management of some local Austrian customers as well as preparing external events we attend. So, my job involves a lot of information and communication.
Cornelia: I work in the Project Management Team and am responsible for the coordination of the entire project scope, including budget, resources, timeline etc. of the assigned customer.
Nina: I joined NTS Retail as a Marketing Specialist after finishing my undergraduate studies in 2020. I am mostly responsible for our online presence, which entails running campaigns, managing our social media and keeping our website up and running.
Ute: I have been working at NTS in the Marketing and Knowledge Management team since 2017. My responsibilities include technical documentation, software translations, and software trainings.
Question 2: What do you love most about your job?
Christiane: Nearly every day comes along with a new challenge. Therefore, it never gets boring. And you get in touch with a lot of people from various cultures, with very different backgrounds, internally as well as externally. That’s quite exciting!
Cornelia: The freedom to make my own decisions in the best interest of the customer and the project at hand. Also, to coordinate and work with many people across the globe.
Nina: What I love most about my job is the fact that I can work very independently. Since my area of responsibility is at times very diverse, I appreciate the fact that I get to try out different tasks early on in my career. Now, I know more about my strengths and weaknesses and which responsibilities I might want to take on in the future.
Ute: Since my tasks are very diverse, every day and every project I work on is different. My job requires intense interaction with people from other departments, such as project or product managers and developers. When I hold software trainings at one of our international customers, either on-site or remotely, I enjoy the opportunity to get to know other cultures, which is a pleasant break from the daily routine at my desk.
Question 3: As a woman, what are the most important challenges you’ve had to overcome to fulfill your role?
Christiane: For a long time, it’s been difficult to manage the balancing act between doing a good job in the office and being a caring mom and wife. I often felt that whatever I did and how hard I tried, it would not be enough, and it would be either the one or the other who might suffer.
Cornelia: Assertiveness is more relevant for a woman, and you might have to prove yourself more than male colleagues would. Having said that, if you do apply yourself, you will be recognized for it. And that recognition will open doors for you. Let your work speak for you and people will see your value.
Nina: I must admit, I am a bit of a people pleaser. Saying “no” does not come naturally to me, which has been a constant problem I struggle with personally and in my career. Only now since I reduced my workload due to my studies, I have been starting to really set more boundaries and manage the expectations I have of myself, which has positively impacted my everyday life.
Ute: Finding a way to focus on my strengths and recognize and work on weaknesses took time, but it is also the most important lesson within my professional journey.
Question 4: Did you find it difficult to integrate yourself into the rather male-dominated tech field?
Christiane: Not a single second! First, because I experienced a similar situation as I was the only woman in a huge male project team in the company I had worked for before. And secondly, because I have been fully accepted as a new team member right from the start.
Cornelia: I have always worked in a male-dominated world. So no, it was not difficult to integrate myself. However, it is of course a daily challenge to work and live in such a world and this can only be changed step-by-step every day.
Nina: So far, not at all. I work in a very diverse department, and I would generally consider the work environment to be quite balanced.
Ute: Starting new in a company is always an exciting experience and never predictable or easy. In my opinion, respect and communication is the key to success when working with human beings - whether they are female or male.
Question 5: What achievement are you most proud of (professional and/or personal)?
Christiane: To be honest, my greatest personal and professional achievements are both very tightly interrelated. I started my studies at that time in fall, gave birth to my daughter in the next summer holidays and continued right afterwards. My daughter simply accompanied me and became a beloved member of the students’ team. This way I was able to complete my studies without any delay.
Cornelia: I reached a great milestone when my first project with a huge scope went live after 3.5 years. The Senior Project Management Certification Level B is something I am very proud of in my professional career. However, last year I achieved first place in a tournament with my dog, which also filled me with pride.
Nina: Apart from working at NTS Retail, I am currently studying hard to get my Master’s degree in Business Analytics. The fact that I am balancing working and studying all at once makes me feel proud of myself. I also love that I was able to keep up my Spanish skills since going on my exchange year in 2013.
Ute: In our medium-sized company, tasks often land on my desk that are not directly related to my dedicated area of responsibility. Finding the balance between saying "yes" to new challenges that push me forward and saying "no" to tasks that would be too inhibiting is a constant challenge. This is a revelation that also helps immensely in private family life.
Question 6: When you think about your life, what was the best decision you have made so far?
Christiane: Professionally seen, my best decision was probably when I decided to reorient myself and get back to university again to start my technical studies. When I had nearly finished, I sent my job application to NTS Retail, received the invitation to my job interview just 12 hours later and, well, the rest is history.
Cornelia: When I was 15 years old, I left Austria to live with an exchange family in Peru for a year. This experience is something that shaped my entire perspective on life, and I still benefit from it every day - especially since I work in a field where communication with many people across the globe and therefore the related cultures is daily business. My experience gave me the understanding and patience which is required for such a job.
Nina: Convincing my parents to let me spend an exchange year in Spain with a lovely host family at 16 years old was one of the best decisions I have ever made. On top of that, going through with my exchange semester in Colombia was a crucial turning point that helped me move on in life immensely.
Ute: Taking a year abroad to study in the USA.
Question 7: What's the most valuable piece of advice you can give other women trying to establish their career in tech?
Christiane: Dare it and go for it! Ask whatever you need to know because there are absolutely no stupid questions. And finally, there will always be times when you need to grit your teeth and face some challenge.
Cornelia: Don’t give up and don’t shut up! Often, we are faced with difficult situations in our personal and professional lives, and the best advice is to always point them out, and improve your view and the view of others every day with every action you take. Just make sure that you use your elbows occasionally and don’t only make space for your colleagues and clients who are using their elbows regularly.
The old-aged view that a woman is not as successful in a technical job has long been debunked and if your heart beats for this kind of job, then go ahead and do it. If you love it, you will be successful in it, no matter what it is you choose to do.
Nina: Set boundaries early on in your career and stop putting too much on your plate. As a young person, just at the beginning of their career, you often feel the need to be perfect all the time and take on way too much. Take your time and don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes.
Ute: In working with other people, regardless of gender, I learned that authenticity gets you the farthest and it's most important to fully tolerate everyone's own comprehension of "normal." And do not take everything personally!