Brigitte Hulliger

Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.

wst_brigitte_hulliger

Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!

I was born and raised in Switzerland in a small village called Wynigen in the canton of Berne. My mother is a teacher and my father was a carpenter up until I was born when my parents decided that my father would stay at home looking after us kids. This was over 30 years ago.

I studied computer science at the University of Applied Sciences in Berne and started working alongside my studies as a software engineer. After several years of working in different software companies in different roles me and a friend of mine decided to found our own company Break the Box, which we did last year.

What valuable advice did you get from your parents?

Given that my father stayed at home and my mother went working I was never really exposed to classical role models at home. My parents never expected me to fit a “gender” pattern but instead always encouraged me to follow my passion.

How did you become interested in tech?

That’s a bit hard to say. I generally liked maths and figures – and drawing. So I chose Math for my major and Arts for my minor in the Gymnasium. I was never a gamer nor did I spend a lot of time in front of the computer when I was a teenager. But I was fascinated by the possibilities of tech so I decided to give computer science a try at university but always kept in mind, that maybe someday I could combine it with my passion for art and drawing.

What aspects of your work are you proudest of?

I am proud of having worked on many IT projects by now in different roles. I like the fact that I can continuously contribute to the success of projects, take in different roles to achieve goals and not lose focus doing that. Seeing a happy customer at the end (or even better: in between too) is very satisfying to me.

What drives you at work?

I like solving problems combining different disciplines to create something new and make life easier for people by it. Doing that on a daily basis and seeing how people around are satisfied with the results is what drives me everyday. Given that technology never stands still and you always learn something new, it never gets boring.

What has been the toughest challenge you’ve learnt while working in the tech scene?

Up until I started working in IT I was never really a gender competition for me. As long as you are in school or at university there are always grades that you are measured on. Once you start working, there are no more grades and the competition begins. The further up you climb the ladder the worse it gets. I never thought I would be exposed to these myths where people think you are the “assistant” or the “secretary” just because you are a woman up until I faced it myself.

I don’t consider myself a victim at all, instead I accept it as a challenge to change things. But it still makes me sad sometimes to see that (gender) diversity is often still not seen as a goal worth achieving.

What advice would you give other women in tech?

Follow your passion. Think about what you can contribute to tech that men cannot and see it as a teamwork not as a competition. Don’t just try to “fit in” but instead try to enrich the climate.

The interview was held by Janine Fuchs

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