Interview by 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. Since Miriam left the We Shape Tech Berne Board in the end of 2017 we held this interview with her.
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!
I grew up in Munich, but moved to Zurich when I was 18 to study physics at ETH – that’s 14 years ago. After finishing my studies and doing a bit of travelling, I worked in IT for 5 years, as a consultant and project manager. In spring 2013 I moved to Bern, where I live now and co-founded the Impact Hub Bern in 2016.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
«Damit gewinnt man kein Blumentopf» was one of my mother’s favorites. That stuck with me: it’s about what you accomplish, not about being «nice» or «pretty». My mother is a hard working business women to this day, so I never felt like there were things that women just can’t or shouldn’t do.
The second thing I take from my upbringing is, that those who have, should give – be it money time or abilities.
How did you become interested in tech?
As a child I loved going to the all the science and technology museums in Munich with my father. He took great pride in explaining everything to me and I enjoyed all the interactive displays, pushing all the buttons… I guess that is what still interests me most: understanding how things work.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
Founding and building up the Impact Hub Bern is the best work I’ve ever had and a lot more than just a job. I’m proud of what we’ve managed – but we as team, not me as individual!
What drives you at work?
The people I work for and the people I work with have always been my incentive. Right now at the Hub: The great freedom of shaping this place, community and business. Not having to sell a product I don’t believe the world really needs, but instead promoting something that makes sense to me.
What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?
Having to be around guys every day, all day long for 10 years…just kidding, but I do enjoy having a few women around now! It’s just a different set of conversations.
To be honest, I never felt disadvantaged by being a women in tech, so my challenges were those of all who are young and inexperienced in a job. Sure, there’s always a few stupid remarks, especially from older men, but usually it’s more an incapability of how to interact with women than bad will. I always felt I earned their respect in the end.
What advice would you give other women in tech?
Whether in tech or else were: Do what you want to do and stand up for yourself, by asking for the wage you think you should be paid, applying for that leadership position and letting people know when their behaviour is out of order.