Every month we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned. This time we asked two…
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!
Cécile: I am from Thurgau, where the most delicious apples and strawberries in Switzerland come from. Early on in my life, it was clear to me that I would rather start a career within tech and social sciences than farming. This insight quickly drew me to Zürich.
Christina: I was born in Stockholm, but I have spent most of my life in Switzerland because I have a Swedish mother and Swiss father. Study escapes and family visits still bring me to the north.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
Cécile: To be curious. I think that’s what brought me closer to tech and the startup scene.
Christina: To take a chance when you get it. Trying new things is not always easy, but it usually surprises you in a positive way.
How did you become interested in tech?
Christina: One of my first internships was within tech—although, within a technology that is almost dead: WAP services on mobile devices. I was interested in how fast things change and the possibilities that suddenly open up. It’s what has driven me ever since, be it at the digital agency where I worked as a consultant or the insurance company where I now work.
Cécile: New technologies and their impact on society have always fascinated me. All of a sudden, things can be solved differently and much easier than before. The possibilities that new technologies bring are almost infinite and, therefore, so thrilling.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
Christina & Cécile: As innovation managers at an insurance company, our main task is to generate new (digital) products and services that make our customers’ lives easier. And because innovation is not predictable, it bears a quite high failure rate. We, of course, are proud if a project succeeds and the feedback is positive. We are also proud, however, when we dare to pass on a project because it did not perform as expected and move on with new ideas instead – that’s how you learn.
What drives you at work?
Christina & Cécile: We are definitely driven by the people around us—a highly motivated team of very diverse people, trying to find new ways in a quite traditional industry. What boosts our motivation at work is also the fact that we are sharing one job: in this model we both work part-time (60% each). It has allowed us to find the right work/life balance for the moment.
What have been the toughest challenges you faced while working in tech?
Cécile & Christina: One thing we’ve stumbled upon is trying convince a crowd of men that female end users might think differently than they do. You need a lot of energy and convincing skills to stand in for other user groups from time to time.
What we thought would be tough, but turned out to be much easier than expected, was to find a challenging, part-time job within the tech scene. In our position, as job sharers, we have the possibility to work part-time while still having an intriguing and highly motivating job.
What advice would you give other women in tech?
Cécile: Be brave and try unusual things! Otherwise, you will never know what things could have been like. For example, I encourage everyone to apply for a job as a “dream team” like we did. The response we received (and still get) was very positive.
Christina: Do not work out the perfect concept from the beginning, but rather talk about ideas early on and test things – because then you won’t have to continue with something that is better transferred to the graveyard.
If you want to learn more about our working model, read this: https://flexwork.axa.ch/dream-team-im-jobsharing/