Every month, we ask one individual in our network a few questions about their way into tech, their motivation and their lessons learned.
This month role model is Bettina Rotzetter. She has been working in IT for twenty years mostly in the health sector, currently as an IT Compliance expert. Besides, she has recently started a new adventure as founder of a tech-startup.
Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us a bit about you: Where are you from? What do you do? What are your current projects?
I’m Canadian, grew up in the great white north. I came to Switzerland in my mid-twenties for 3 months to escape the brutal cold winter months. I decided to come to Bern to discover some swiss roots.
When I first came, I started out working in a factory. Shortly after I got a job in a Swiss bank in IT and from there l moved into the health sector. I spent most of my career inside hospitals troubleshooting anything and everything related to IT in medicine and research. Ten years ago, I moved into the University Hospital environment which I really enjoy a lot due to the international flair. The fast pace environment is super interesting and projects are challenging. But you encounter a lot of really amazing people dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives. I am currently in a small developer team in eye research. I also founded a small start-up with four friends this year.
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?
I was very fortunate to have been influenced by many different folks from all walks of life. I feel this is one of the greatest life teachings one could possibly get, which no one family or school could ever teach. I think this really influenced me to become a notorious optimist. There is always a bright side and it’s a matter of finding a sweet spot to help you grow and nourish your own curiosity to develop further. I think in the end you need to create yourself to be your own role model before you can be it for anyone else.
How did you become interested in tech?
I started my tech journey at a very young age. I grew up with a lot of guys around me so I was used to the male dominant environments. I got my hands down right dirty from start in the gaming scene. Also in the music scenes technology dominated early on in my life. We used to hack any equipment together, which we could get our hands on.
When I was about 15 years old, I met this amazing Canadian French woman from Quebec. She moved into my neighbourhood. Through her, I realized how important role models are. She gave me the foundation I stand on today in my tech job. Even though you may go unnoticed when you stand at the end of a line, you can learn a lot back there if you’re a really smart kid and you pay attention. I watched her one day in a public space hack around on a command line and my curiosity for tech was ignited like a sparking light. She taught me all my tech basics late nights hacking around in her setup garage which was this huge playground full of computers. We installed them, got them setup and loaded them up on a 4×4 truck. She then drove from town to town in northern rural areas in all weather conditions and taught unemployed people computer skills. This woman became the biggest role model I looked up to my entire life. Little did I know back then that the day would come where I would earn my own living from what she taught me.
What aspects of your work are you proudest of?
Sometimes you work on projects that are just meaningless but they are just part of business life, too. Other times you get that lucky draw in a project, which might make a difference in someone’s life. I think the meaningful projects I got to be part of was when I took someone’s kid periodically to spend a few days in my IT team and showed them what we do. I liked to pass that on to kids to see if a spark could be ignited in them or help them gain a perspective for their future.
Apart from those tech-projects, I got to be part of a music project, which I was asked to do for a young teenager who was terminally ill. This production was part of her final phase of her life. I produced a song that described her short life in the studio together with some of my friends. We hacked around with tracks and made some little video idea with very minimalistic equipment but it did the job. Even though we had no budget we made the most of the tech equipment we owned. This project reminded me to always stay humble.
What drives you at work?
I think my biggest motivation is always to find a new perspective to maybe make a difference and to hit that sweet spot to grow into it.
What has been the toughest challenge you’ve learnt while working in the tech scene?
I faced many challenges throughout the years but I think it’s been really challenging always being the only woman in every team. I only realized later on in my life that diverse views are only possible, if diversity is actually present in teams and these perspectives are so valuable in all forms to broaden our own horizons and grow. I also think it was difficult to outgrow my own boundaries at times in the tech field as a woman. I found myself constantly recreating myself in the field, which retrospectively was probably one of the most positive developments I had in the job, even if it was the most challenging.
What advice would you give other women in tech?
I would like to promote and advise any woman to take a path in a tech career if that lights your internal fires. Just do it! Believe in yourself and don’t feel intimidated. I would like to really promote that women who do make it to the top in tech or in any field for that matter, to help and empower other women. What I also mean with that: Teach your girls right from start at an early age they can take a rocket to the moon if that’s what they fancy. Encourage your children to follow-up on impossible visions and dreams because that’s what we need more of in our business world. Do not see things as a failure if they don’t turn out. It’s just your version 0.1 beta and you can always refactor your code.