To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2020 Cogs are honoured to be featuring 5 inspiring females making an impact in the digital space. We speak to these women about their experiences, philosophy, successes and learnings.
In this edition of our Women’s Day series, we will speak to Pia Betton, Design and Site Lead at Nutanix Germany.
1. Tell us about yourself, your leadership style and philosophy?
I have been a leader now for over 20 years. Most of my working career has focused around the agency world and design.
The most important aspect about my leadership style is collaboration. I like to surround myself with collaborative individuals. I like to take advice from others and seek input when it comes to decision making.
Working with people who take initiative is something i have always loved, and value the insight and opinions of others always.
2. How did you get to where you are today?
I didn’t study, no university education. Instead I went from High School into a trainee ship at a design agency where i learnt the very basics of graphic design. I naturally enjoyed design but it was a personal drive that ensured I continued into this industry. I was living in Copenhagen at the time and here I worked my way up through various design roles and positions until the 90’s when I moved to Berlin.
It was in Berlin that I found myself in a Junior Partner role at design agency MetaDesign. It was a huge step for me but I felt ready for the challenge. During my time there I developed my skills so I could to make sure that I was up to date in the ever changing design world.
3. Do you think there are any misconceptions about working in the Tech sector today?
I have only recently gone through the transition from pure design to tech and design. The transition has also taken me from agency to corporate which too, has many differences and has changed my perceptions.
One major difference between corporate and agency environments specifically is the different perception of time spent on projects. In an agency, you have a limited budget of hours, as that is mostly what the customer is paying you for. Where as in a corporate (tech/design) environment, hours don’t seem to be the main focus. The work you do and projects are more fluid – the outcome is more important than the hours it was completed in.
I also noticed a difference in the end game, when working in agency versus corporate. A corporate environment enables you to have a more long term vision of the work you do. When working within a corporate environment for example on a digital product, you are never finished, you can always adapt and learn and integrate customer feedback. Where as in an agency there will come a time where you have to finish a project and return it to the customer and you rarely get to evolve the product over time.
I have also learnt a lot from the different cultures and how different individuals work. Its been fascinating after working in design for many years, to then cross to a more tech based workplace, to see the behavioral differences, and different ways of working.
5. How have you managed to devote time to both a successful career and your family?
I have two boys, who are now 18 & 21, so they don’t need that much attention any more. What allowed me to have both a family and a career, was one, that I really wanted it. I went back to work after my first son was 3 months old, part time, not full time. I expressed milk during work hours to enable the caregiver to feed my son while I was at work. However, till today I still think it is unnecessary to have to make these kind of choices. Some governments offer opportunities for both men and women to spend time with their children without having to sacrifice their career. If you chose to focus strongly on your career, the support of a good partner or a network of friends ready to jump in, and childcare that you trust is really important and necessary to logistically enable this set up to work.
It makes me feel sad when I see women who have to stall their career to have kids, but this is not down to the women necessarily wanting it to be this way. There are a lot of companies and managers who believe that women can’t have a family and a successful career working part time. Where as the experience that I have had, has been that most of the mothers I’ve worked with are immensely effective during the hours at the office. You will not see them spending time at the coffee machine or taking a long lunch, they work conscientiously from the minute they arrive to the minute they go home. Then if there are things that need to be done, they will finish it at night at home once their children are in bed. Why this is still necessary, I do not understand. Fortunately for many companies a healthy work-life balance is part of their culture.
5. What is your advise be for younger leaders, what is the best way / strategy to overcome obstacles and grow as a person?
Sometimes, when I talk to young women I hear the word “afraid”. It is something that comes up a lot. It the reason is strikes me is because it isn’t something you hear very often from a man in business. A man might say ” I didn’t speak up because there was no point,” or “I don’t like public speaking.” But you don’t often hear a man say “I was afraid to speak up.” As for me, the approach I have always had is to think “what is the worst that can happen” and if that is not so bad then what is there to be afraid of?
If you commit to a leadership position – what is the worst that can happen? After a while you realise it’s not for you and have to give up. If that’s the worst thing that can happen, then you just try again at a later date or trial an alternative path.
Secondly my advice to younger leaders would be to not stagnate, to keep challenging yourself to develop personally.
I have committed to myself that whenever I feel as though I lack challenges in a role, to change it. Work is meant to challenge and excite you – always. I am past 50 and a year and half ago I entered the tech industry. I didn’t know if I was going to make it and I’ve still got a lot to learn, but it is challenging and a lot of fun.
Thank you Pia, for taking the time to speak to us and our readers. We wish you success and joy fulfilling what you set out to do at work and in your personal endeavours.
Connect with Pia here:
Cogs celebrate all the achievements women have made to make their workplace and the world a better place. Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s Month to all the ladies.