Role Model Tanja Koch

Role Model: Tanja Koch

Role Model: Tanja Koch

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

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

I grew up in a small town next to the lake of Zurich but spent most of my winter time in the mountains. Hence my love for the water and the snow. I worked as a ski instructor in wintertime and a wakeboard instructor in summertime during my studies in mechanical engineering at ETH Zurich.

I started my professional career with an internship in project management at Mercedes-Benz. If you join a manufacturing company, normally you need to spend a few weeks on the production floor to learn about the challenges of the products and the manufacturing process hands-on.

After my masters, I already knew that I’d rather join a start-up than a corporation. Mainly because I saw how politics can decrease innovation. I joined 9T Labs, an ETH spinnoff which focuses on producing 3D printed carbon composites for series production. After shaping the marketing strategy for 2 years, I left and founded Amplo together with Oliver and Niels.

What valuable advice did you get from your parents?

My dad is an entrepreneur himself, so his advice has always been “Just do it, you can’t lose anything”. My mom is more on the conservative side and always helps me take a step back and think about life in a more rational way. Both are very supportive and they always have my back.

How did you become interested in tech?

I was very good in maths and science at school and very bad in languages, so it was the most logical way for me to go to ETH. At ETH you are surrounded by technology and innovation and this is how my interest grew over the years.

You have a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from ETH. Why this particular field of study?

It was a coincidence. I was in my final year of high school and wanted to study medicine or something at ETH. The presentation from the medicine lecturer was so bad that I decided to drop that thought. At ETH, mechanical engineering was the one I liked the best. Normally ETH people are not famous for their sales skills but they really got me there.

Today you are co-founder and CCO of the tech startup AMPLO in Zurich. How did that come about and why do you think your startup solves a “real problem”?

With our digital backbone for industrial operations and maintenance, industrial companies can automate a lot of their processes. Let’s take a look at an example: A company that operates EV charging stations wants to have as much uptime as possible for their chargers. We help them automate their whole diagnostics process using machine learning. Before Amplo, they had service engineers looking through the sensor data of the broken charger for hours to pinpoint what the problem was.

Why do I think we solve a real problem? I love the space we’re mainly operating in – the E-mobility industry. It’s impressive to see how fast the EVs have established themselves on the streets.
Furthermore, being able to get rid of repetitive work and minimize the human error in operations is a very satisfying task to me.

What other decisive steps significantly influenced and shaped your career?

In my professional career I only had great supervisors which were fully supportive of all the decisions I took. So they always gave me the feeling that only the sky’s the limit and challenged me in a healthy way.

What aspects of your work are you proudest of?

A bit a funny one but I’m very proud of my mental state. As a founder you have to work a lot and I put a lot of effort in making sure that this workload is sustainable for yourself in the many more years to come. So one example is: I try not to take anything personal in a business environment – this gives me a distance that allows me to think much clearer.

What has been your toughest challenge you faced while working in tech?

I dropped my first master thesis after 8 months. It’s a very long story but in the end it was the best decision, my master thesis afterwards was so much fun and I had great supervision.

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

That’s a great question. I think LinkedIn is an awesome tool to get to know and follow inspiring female entrepreneurs.

What advice would you give other women in tech?

Normally, the ones that shout the loudest are not the smartest. Don’t feel intimidated, just because someone talks a lot about the great work they do and the hours they put in.
Tanja Koch

And most importantly, find a job you love or shape your current job in a way you can love it again. There usually are some easy fixes. It sounds very chliché and obviously not every minute of my workday is enjoyable.


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