Role model: Sunnie J. Groeneveld

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

Sunnie, let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about where you’re from!

I grew up in Ottenbach, a small village by the Reuss river in the canton of Zurich.

 
What valuable advice did you get from your parents?

My mother taught me that you shouldn’t postpone your dreams. She always encourages and supports me as I chase mine, and for that I’m forever grateful. She also taught me that health is more valuable than any amount of material wealth. And that investing in one’s physical and mental well-being is essential to living a good life. 


How did you become interested in tech?

By joining an early-stage tech startup that got admitted into YCombinator in Silicon Valley in 2011. It was a very formative work experience and the beginning of my keen interest in all things tech. 


What aspects of your work are you proudest of?

I’m proud that over the past six years I’ve been able to build up the service companies Inspire 925 and Inspire 529 as well as the SaaS startup LunchLottery. And I’m proud of the fact that I get to work with many incredibly talented individuals along the way. For example right now, I’m collaborating with Manuel Nappo at HWZ to create a new Executive MBA in Digital Leadership; it’s a fantastic cooperation. 


What was one of your biggest challenges in your career and how did you overcome it?

One of my toughest moments as an entrepreneur was the first time I had to fire an employee. I overcame it by addressing the topic upfront and being very honest and open about my reasoning behind the decision. In the end, clarity benefits everyone.  


How does digitization impact your and other women’s entrepreneurial career opportunities?

On a day-to-day basis, digitization provides me with a tremendous amount of flexibility. Thanks to cloud storage and collaborative Google docs, I can work from anywhere. More generally, I think digitization is a great opportunity. For example, it’s never been as easy as today to build a digital business and access the entire world as your market. And if you don’t know how, there are countless trainings available online on websites like Coursera or Udemy to teach you.


What advice would you give women in tech?

Do great work and talk about it. Female representation matters, especially to inspire younger women to pursue a career in tech. And it may also matter for you because career opportunities, such as sharing your expertise on a panel at an industry event, are more frequently offered to the digitally-visible. 

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