Role Model Katrin Yuan

Role Model:
Katrin J. Yuan

Role Model:
Katrin J. Yuan

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!

Genetically, I am Asian. Practically, I grow up mixed in several countries, with elements from the US, Germany and Asian culture. Part of my family is in the U.S., another part is in Europe. I am in Switzerland. So, you could say that unlike most, I don’t have a “one face, one home, one country” identity, or you could say that I am at home in diverse parts of the world. Every culture has its own distinctive beauty. Do not judge people too quickly by their face. More relevant for me is the question “Where are you going?” than “where are you from”.

What valuable advice did you get from your parents?

When I turned 16, I lived alone. Before that, I think of my grandmother. My grandmother said, “You can lose everything in this world and you still have you, your brain, your mind, your heart – to rebuild everything and no one can ever take that away from you.” She was a very strong woman and taught me in many subtle ways.

How did you become interested in tech – after all, you could have become a professional pianist, couldn’t you?

If you ask my mind, the topics I stand for are the following: AI tech, finance, and boards. If you ask my heart, I am an entrepreneur and an artist. The thing is, as a kid, you have to decide whether you’re going to be a professional pianist or not. It quickly became apparent that my fingers were physically too short. Despite this limitation, I kept playing. As a child, I knew one thing: once I grow up, I want to be independent in every way. In school, I was good at all subjects, so it was hard for me to choose one. Eventually I was advised to do something “sensible” and I studied Business with IT and Finance. I am quite a nerd, love data analytics, AI and technology, so I tried to combine fun and practicality.

Katrin, you are also a member of the Women in Tech – Global Movement. In which topics and concerns do you see differences globally and nationally (focus on Switzerland). For example, are there cultural differences or are the challenges the same?

Same challenges in different cultural intensity in a subjectively perceived, more concentrated dimension, as Switzerland is a small, rich, highly competitive country. That does not make things easier, not only to succeed as an expat but especially to succeed here as a woman, young one and non-white. If you want to know why being female non-white makes the journey more difficult, read the book:

cover dear white women

Dear white women
Dear White Women challenges readers to encounter the hard questions about race (and racism) in order to push the needle of change in a positive direction.

How is AI reshaping the opportunities for women?

I am a strong advocate for women to become financially and technically literate because no one can afford to lean back. AI is accelerating this path at an unprecedented pace and scalability. It offers a multitude of opportunities if you educate yourself. If you do not start, or start too late, you will miss the train with all the consequences. With my consulting team, we offer workshops to educate women (and men) about AI and the opportunities it presents.

You are not only a female top manager but also a multiple board member with board mandates in tech and AI. How did you get them and what advice do you give other women who would like to do the same?

First, know what you want and get educated. Second start. Do not overthink things so you never start. Most importantly, start going into the right direction towards achieving your goals. A board certification by Global Digital Board Academy or other train you not only on the Board responsibilities and what you should know, but also how you get your first board mandate. Second get a successful female (or male) board mentor. Third build or enter an existing board network. Opportunities do not happen. We create them.

Have you ever had a role model that inspired you on your path?

I would love to name female names, but as a child there were no local female role models visible for me. It is great that this is changing more and more thanks to WE SHAPE TECH and others. I had a Warren Buffet and an Einstein poster in my room amongst others. I admire Buffet’s thoughts as a sustainable wealth builder, entrepreneur, and inspirational leader. From Einstein, I felt inspired by his creativity and imagination, by the way he challenged the existing. Both leaders inspire me not only because of their intellect, but also because they have a strong sense of humor and a work ethic in line with mine.

What aspects of your work are you proudest of?

Inspiration comes in many forms and has many faces. Great leaders follow a vision despite the circumstances they were born into.
Role Model Katrin Yuan
Katrin J. Yuan
Global Digital Board Academy

I am grateful and proud of what I have built for myself not relying on the comfortable path, but moving on and facing challenges to grow all by myself. I am grateful for the unique combination of my roles as board member, speaker, lecturer, consultant, entrepreneur, and investor. I am doing my best to use my growing media presence as a female board member to pave the way for many more women to follow.

What drives you at work?

Recognition, reflection and impact. The opportunity to learn, grow and make an impact. I was told I had too many interests and somehow did not fit into one single box. Now I know.

Do not copy existing ways, create your own. Life is too short to only follow up one role and live up to others' expectations.
Role Model Katrin Yuan
Katrin J. Yuan
Global Digital Board Academy

Do not listen to too many different voices. Follow your own path to success.

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

The only constant is change. Hard times forces you to step up for yourself (and others). You see the faces of people in hard times. I am convinced you can make a difference and that each leader can make a difference, not only by delegating the change but by the way how you treat your people. There are good times and hard times and you definitely grow in hard times.

Not the strongest, biggest, oldest, and most established but the ones with the ability to adapt, innovate, and reinvent will outperform the others, survive, and sustain.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast?

I like to listen to tech, finance, growth, transformation and leadership podcasts like (3 German, 1 English):

My favourite books are:

I am writing my own book, so stay tuned.

What advice would you give other women in tech?

Learn, grow, constantly educate yourself.

Stay visible, raise your voice and support other women. It makes a big difference if women support other women (or not).
Role Model Katrin Yuan
Katrin J. Yuan
Global Digital Board Academy

And what advice would you give women not yet working in tech that want to enter the field?

Focus on your strengths and build bridges on how to transfer them to the tech space. Build alliances along with a strong network. Become visible. Get a successful leadership mentor who will accelerate your path, meaning you will save a lot of time, money, and hassle.


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