4. August 2020 ǀ Munich Ismaning
#WomenSupportingWomen: The status quo for women in leadership positions and career tips for the IT business
Anke, you were able to gain experience in the still largely male-dominated IT world relatively early on. Please tell us a little about your career path in the CRM/IT sector.
Anke Lenz: Influenced by my childhood experiences abroad, as a student of business, I already knew that I would like to work internationally in the field of business consultancy, and I began working as a consultant for a mid-sized IT consultancy firm.
Within a short time, I was able to take on the responsibility of working as a Project Lead on international CRM projects. At that time, when the IT world was still extremely male-dominated, female Project Leads on IT projects were still a rarity. Then, I started at SAP, where I was able to further pursue my ambitions of working internationally: I consulted on SAP CRM matters worldwide (in China, Korea, USA, South America, South Africa, etc.) as a trainer, with customers in my capacity as a pre-sales consultant, and within the SAP organization itself. Especially in Asia, being a woman and working in a technological field made me an exception, and I was often viewed critically.
Then, I changed course and began working internationally as a business consultant, where my dedication allowed me to advance to Senior Manager very quickly. Even at that time, women in higher-level positions were a clear minority. I always found this highly challenging and inspirational, however, it always required a great deal of conviction and perseverance.
What happened when you began working for maihiro? What was your role and what responsibilities did you have?
Anke Lenz: I started working for maihiro as a Consultancy Manager twelve and a half years ago and took over responsibility for the Pharma & Consumer Products Industry team. After our industry teams had been merged, I was given the responsibility of overseeing project delivery organization within maihiro Germany. As the teams were growing and managers were overseeing over 40 employees, another management level was introduced in order to promote growth within the company.
I was closely involved in the professionalization of operative management processes in Delivery Organization. An entrepreneurial mindset and strategy are key requirements for positioning oneself in a leadership role.
The next step I took was to take over and expand the Customer Success Services department, which had around 20 employees. Thanks to my affinity for numbers and economic mindset, I was assigned operational responsibility for the Finance & Controlling department by the executives.
Overall, my area of responsibility kept growing. This included technical, content-related, entrepreneurial and economic responsibilities, as well as responsibilities in the field of People Management.
What can you say about the perception of women in leadership positions? With respect to your own career path on the one hand, and considering the current status quo on the other? Would you change anything if you could?
Anke Lenz: As I’ve already said, at the start of my career, women in leadership positions, especially in the IT sector, were often viewed very critically and scrutinized. As a woman, you have to do much more to prove yourself and to gain acceptance and encouragement. I can recall situations where I, as the Project Lead, was asked where or who the Project Lead was, as they were expecting a man.
The perception of women in leadership positions has shown some very positive changes in recent years, but there is still room for improvement! Even today, women are underrepresented in the maihiro leadership team.
For us – as maihiro, a part of Accenture – I can see further opportunities in this new environment. This is because Accenture believes women in leadership roles have strategic importance, and supports them accordingly. This is a very positive and highly motivational stance.
I look forward to networking with women in higher-level leadership positions and to supporting young women in their career development.
What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career?
Anke Lenz: Always believe in yourself and be true to yourself – because with dedication and conviction, women can attain leadership roles with increased responsibility. It is important to understand what motivates and influences the behavior of men in a business setting and to engage with the topic of power structures in order to achieve success as a woman and to apply your feminine strengths.
A healthy mix of men and women makes a company more successful, especially in the current social climate. I truly believe in this, and young women wishing to pursue a career in this industry should have this awareness and perception of their value.
Autor: Verena Holzgreve ǀ 4. August 2020 ǀ München Ismaning
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