Women in tech: Becoming inspirational leaders

Experienced Head of Information Technology, Ulrike Goose, speaks with podcast moderator, Ingo Notthoff, about leadership, women leaders in tech, and about implementing visions, building diverse teams, and running better meetings.

Ulrike Goose
The Agenda Podcast

The Agenda brought to you by Sherpany uncovers the journey leaders take from facing challenges to making decisions. In this unique series of podcasts, leaders talk candidly with podcast moderator, Ingo Notthoff. #LeadingTogether

In this podcast episode, you'll hear:

Experienced Head of Information Technology, and former EVP Enterprise IT at E.ON Digital Technology, Ulrike Goose, as she discusses about:

  • Women in tech, 
  • Leadership,
  • Diversity, and
  • Good meetings.

After an extensive career in leadership in IT departments, Ulrike gained a comprehensive understanding of the tech world and its creative side, the power of setting-up visions, and of building diverse teams that enable the implementation of those visions.

On The Agenda podcast, she shares her thoughts and personal experiences with those who wish to build a career in IT.

Here are some of the topics covered in the podcast episode:

  • The creative side of IT architecture, and women in tech
  • The power of vision: How to be an inspirational leader
  • Diverse teams, and the role of team builders
  • Meeting minutes : A pillar to running better meetings


*Please note: The podcast episode is available in German.

Women in tech: Becoming inspirational leaders with Ulrike Goose

The creative side of IT architecture, and women in tech

"I think it's because of how the image of IT has developed. It's great when children learn to program. It's great when managers learn to program, and get a little insight into what's behind it, into the mechanics, into the technology. But it also has a disadvantage that many people think IT only exists for programming. 

That's like building a house, or a cathedral consisting only of walls, and it doesn't do that. It's just a very small part of the building that does a lot of work, that needs a lot of competence, a lot of knowledge. That's not all. 

That leads to the fact that many women who might be interested in IT don't see the creative part at all, because they might not want to become programmers. The other exciting areas in IT that are very diverse, they don't even get to know. 

What kind of areas are there? 

I've always had a soft spot for architecture, for real construction architecture, but also for companies, and for IT architecture. Many people understand the technical part, how do I structure a program, that's much more. That's actually how I design a company strategy for the next few years, because a company strategy is formed in IT.

So, I can no longer use the company strategy from what later lands in IT systems, from what IT costs, and digitalisation costs. Accordingly, I need a very sophisticated and extensive strategic company architecture. That is the most exciting part for me, and also the creative part.[...]

I love the English saying 'it falls into place'. When I have a beautiful picture of my future, then things come true, because then I recognise the open doors. I benefited from the fact that women are sought after for management because I believe that I would not have been invited to some talks if there was no such desire. That I got the job is certainly not only because I am a woman, but also that I can do something, I can bring something."


The power of vision: How to be an inspirational leader

"There are two main things that leadership needs: to design and to implement visions. 

The first thing is that I need a vision. I need to have an idea of what it looks like when it's finished and good. This idea is often very, very far away. A vision is in two, three, five years. You don't have visions for a goal that is to be achieved in one or two budget cycles. They go further, and few people dare to do that.

It was important to me to show that certain things are possible, that you can do them, that you can achieve this vision. That was important to me. That's why, I sometimes took into account that I was not so good for a year or half a year, because my budget didn't go so well at the beginning, but in the end... I achieved my goals and people were amazed that this was possible. It was always expected. But to have the courage to go over this, when it's just hard and it costs, and to take the rest of the management with you, and sometimes say 'I'll do it anyway', that's really hard. 

The second point is that it doesn't work without taking your employees with you. I had to take several hundred, and over a thousand people with me. And if you want that, you have to find out who the multiplicators are, who are the people the others trust. They are the ones you have to say 'come with me'.

I may have the vision, I may have what comes out as a picture, but how to get there, the others know that a hundred times better. To take them with you and motivate them to work this way. It is the employees, maybe with the support of a few advisors, who work out the strategy. The employees have to carry on the strategy themselves when I'm no longer there."

In IT you have to be able to get the wagon up the hill within a year and, at the end of that year, the wagon has to roll down the hill on its own.

Diverse teams, and the role of team builders

"In a conversation with a former colleague, it occurred to me that I was sometimes so determined in my vision and in what I stand for that I had to unite my colleagues in the team to maintain an opinion against me.

In retrospect, that had a huge benefit, because they were a great team. Before, they were at odds and sometimes worked against each other. But then they worked together from day one and pulled in one direction. Even if it wasn't always 100% mine, I had one team that I could rely on 100%. If I had them convinced, then it was on. That's really how I get people to form a team .

Sometimes I need help with that. I'm not necessarily a team builder. I like to look for team members who have this ability. I had these types of employees and I still appreciate them today. You could put them in a room, and after two days they all sat around a table. These are so-called team builders. You need them.


What qualities do team builders have?

They can listen very well. They have a sense of what other people are feeling and doing. They make sure that everyone in the team is doing well. They have an ability to integrate.

We mentioned diversity earlier. Diversity is not just men and women, and not just black and white. That's much, much more. Diversity is the diversity of individual people , and if you look at team strategies and team management systems and such, then you see how different functions a team must have, and that's never with one person. 

If you only hire 'mini-me', if you only look for people who are like you, you'll never have a good team. You need diversity for that. For example, I am someone who enters a room and does not notice how others are doing, I have to figure that out.

I also need people around me who are strongly structured, who are really like bean counters, who look at the details, because I always look at the bigger picture. I need these other people. And to bring together different personalities in mutual appreciation, that is a real art."


Meeting minutes: A pillar to running better meetings

"It's a waste of time, coordination meetings that are often held because there's no trust in the company. I always had to coordinate everything, with everybody, and I've often noticed that the hierarchical paths are not clear. If there is no good system, this brings too many people together, too often, and it doesn't always come to a conclusion. 

The more meetings there are, the worse they are prepared. How should I prepare myself when I have eight to ten hours of meetings every day? I can't prepare myself. That's not good, I'm not fully concentrated and present. [...]

One topic is meeting minutes. With meeting minutes you can control meetings well. I prefer minutes that are signed by everyone at the end of the meeting. You might only have half of the decisions, but they are solid, you don't need to repeat them. 

Minutes that are still in circulation two weeks later, when no-one can remember what happened in that meeting. There are minutes written in the meeting to which everyone commits immediately. [...] I did project management training where I learned how to manage meetings and projects through meeting minutes. [...]

There are many ways to make meetings better . But you also have to think about it and first analyse: why is the meeting bad? What is the problem? Is the agenda too long? Is it the outside management of the meeting? Is it that too many people are attending the meeting? What is the problem here?"

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Ulrike Goose
About the author
Experienced Head of Information Technology, and former EVP Enterprise IT at E.ON Digital Technology, among other leadership positions, Ulrike guided well-known global companies through major changes. She is now consulting companies on how to be successful.