An equal world is an enabled world. As leaders, as well as people, we have a responsibility when it comes to our everyday perceptions and actions. We can choose to embrace diversity, challenge stereotypes and contribute to a better world.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, whose theme this year is "Let’s all be #EachforEqual", we invited tech entrepreneur, Nicole Herzog for an interview. A passionate entrepreneur and a board member, Nicole is a true inspiration to all women in tech. Part of many projects, Nicole shared with us what it means to be a leader in today's tech world. She also shed light on how technology helps her, particularly in making her meetings more efficient.
Read this interview on diversity, women in tech, leadership and technology for leaders.
Sherpany: You are an inspiring professional involved in many projects in the tech world. What is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry today?
Nicole Herzog: The best part of today is that it’s so much better than 20 years ago! I’m very happy about the fact that there is a lot of awareness when it comes to diversity in tech, including gender diversity. When I co-founded Haufe-umantis I was an outsider, I was the "one of a kind". Back then customers and providers even ignored me when my co-founder was in the room. I’m not an engineer, I’m a lawyer, but I taught myself how to program because I wanted to understand tech.
Fortunately, there are more and more of us. I see many initiatives from women, but also from men to empower women in tech.
Sherpany: What about challenges? What types of objections do women who venture in the world of technology have to face?
Nicole Herzog: I don't think that the challenges in the tech industry are different than the ones in other industries. We all struggle with the same topics.
But I'm strongly convinced that it's a matter of generation because the next generation of leaders are much more open when it comes to diversity. Today’s young leaders live and think more globally, more cross-culturally than the generations before. Gender matters less. It's changing, I'm positive.
Sherpany: You have been Chairwoman of the Board of Directors at Sherpany, the fastest-growing tech company in Switzerland, for almost seven years. Could you share with us your experience so far?
Nicole Herzog: I love my job as Chairwoman. It's exciting to be part of this fast-growing and innovative story. Of course, we have ups and downs, too. At Sherpany we have a very strong value-based culture and this is key to our success. You don't walk the extra mile for a company, you walk it for a mission and the people you work with.
Our Board is very diverse. Yes, diversity sometimes is very annoying but it is always worth it.
At Haufe-umantis I was COO and I was leading the engineering team. That's when I learned what it means to lead a team of experts who are quite different from me. In order to lead I had to understand what drives the team, what is important and how to make them successful. I also learned a lot about myself and developed my leadership skills.
I often have a strong opinion. But if you want to empower a diverse team, you need primarily to listen, and it’s crucial to include those who are not actively engaged. That means that you have to address them differently. Leading a diverse group is quite challenging, and apart from life itself, there is no real training for it so far.
You have to try out things and adapt over and over again, and you have to constantly question yourself and your opinions. That needs an open and curious team, and I'm lucky to have that at Sherpany. In every meeting, I learn something new. I have an impact, and for me, that’s what makes Sherpany a great place to work.
Sherpany: Studies show that leaders spend more than 70% of their time in inefficient meetings. We believe that with the support of a dedicated meeting software, leaders can truly make meetings more efficient. Would you agree? How does technology help you in your day-to-day work?
Nicole Herzog: I totally agree. A meeting software can help leaders to structure their meeting process, and by structuring it, ultimately get time back. I prepare all my leadership meetings with Sherpany. Not only because you need to eat the food you cook, but because time matters. Technology is the main driver for efficiency.
What is most important when it comes to good meetings, i.e. efficient and effective meetings is to include Management and the members of the Board already in the agenda-setting process. This way you can benefit from the full potential of a diverse team. The meeting management software helps to do this in a structured way.
Sherpany: Who are the women in tech that inspire you?
Nicole Herzog: I'm inspired by women and men who are first movers, who don't accept the role society gave them, but make their own rules. I don't have an actual role model. I always try to be the best version of myself.
Sherpany: Thank you for sharing with us your experience as a leader, entrepreneur and woman in tech in 2020.