“You Can’t Be What You Can’t See”

A Recap of the first Women in Leadership Panel at Porsche Digital

“You gotta, you gotta, you gotta” — do what to succeed? Empowering girls and women were one of the big effects of the 1990s hit girl-group Spice Girls. Find out how that song inspired one of our colleagues starting her career in tech in a brief recap of the first Women in Leadership Panel at Porsche Digital.

The panel talk was given by Julia Golombek, Martina Ptiček, and Hadar Pode.

Across many tech companies, women are underrepresented in leadership positions. To tackle that, some VCs specifically invest only in companies with female founders or diverse teams. Porsche Digital values diversity. That´s why a team of dedicated colleagues created the Women & Allies Community. Their mission is to create an inspiring and inclusive working environment where everyone feels comfortable showing their true, authentic selves. The first Women in Leadership panel talk was given by Julia Golombek, Head of Corporate IT, Martina Ptiček, Engineering Manager at Porsche Digital Croatia, and Hadar Pode, Director at Porsche Digital Tel Aviv.

For starters, the panelists all agree on one point: Women should talk to one another more often. “You can’t be what you can’t see”, claims Hadar Pode. In her opinion, women in management positions should act as role models and show both male and female colleagues that they exist, internally and externally. She makes clear that it’s not just about being present but also about leading, motivating, and mentoring.

Opening doors for women

Julia Golombek knows how to empower and let other women empower her. “When I was a teenager, my teacher told me: You’re a girl, you can’t be good in maths or physics. You’re good in languages. But I was not. I was demotivated, which led to bad grades in any subject. But it was the 90s, and there was this ‘Girl Power’ movement, mostly promoted by the Spice Girls. They told you that you can do anything! Especially when you are a girl. That gave me confidence. So, did my grades get better? No, they didn’t really because I was still a teenager and had other priorities. But it helped me believe in myself. It gave me the confidence to study information technology. I was one of the only girls there, but I didn’t mind. I made my way, even though a lot of people told me I wouldn’t make it and that IT isn’t something a girl is usually interested in. Don’t let others tell you what you can or cannot do!”

Every woman should be aware of her strengths. Proactively reaching out for guidance and support is useful. There is no shame in asking for help; on the contrary, this is the only way to realise one’s potential. This also includes getting constructive feedback. A “good job!” doesn’t help anyone. Instead, one should focus on progress. “Take responsibility for your professional and personal growth”, advises Hadar Pode: “A point that many overlook: don’t forget karma. One should always try to give something to other people before asking them for something. Overall, women should open doors for one another much more often.“

Being the only woman in the room is a big challenge for some. One way to address this challenge, according to Hadar Pode, is to increase the talent pool and insist on building more diverse teams. Moreover, one shouldn’t only focus on getting a chair at the table but rather on lifting others and helping other female colleagues. Mutual support is essential, especially in ‘safe zones’. There, women can exchange ideas without anything leaving the room.

Keeping the doors open

In Zagreb, for example, there is an internal initiative, as Martina Ptiček reports. In 1:1 meetings with colleagues an open-door policy is being used to encourage open communication. “You can also ask to go for a virtual coffee”, she suggests. Men tend to talk to other people more often and are at an advantage, because it makes them more visible. Women, on the other hand, form their networks more from a social view — i.e. in terms of who they like better. However, women should also ask themselves who they should contact more often from a strategic point of view.

Porsche Digital encourages diversity. The first Women in Leadership Panel provided important impulses that will now find its way into the company. Diverse teams bring a company closer to its vision and create a harmonious working environment. The variety of perspectives support innovation, new momentum and a better understanding of each other´s needs.

Thanks to Alice Chan, Product Owner at Porsche Digital, for facilitating the Panel!

About this publication: Where innovation meets tradition. There’s more to Porsche than sports cars — we are developing new digital products and services — always with our customers in focus. On our Medium blog, we tell these stories. It’s about our #nextvisions, emerging technologies, and the people that drive our digital journey. If you want to know more, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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