Interviewed by Lina Chong, Analyst at Hasso Plattner Ventures.
Welcome to Berlin! What brings you to our sexy tech city?
I joined the Fox team to become their Head of European Marketing/PR and Events. Being a fox really means being quick on your feet because our startup has an amazing growth potential – and every day we push it to the next level.
You are now a woman in a role of leadership, but coming from social media, what were some of the criticisms of your job of online communications?
Adopting the right voice can be a challenge for people. Social media is an online personality – I would normally suggest you decide if you are your brand or separate from your brand(s). People have to be aware of which persona they create online, it can be vulnerable, permanent and even damaging to a reputation because you quickly attract admirers or haters or even worse – indifference meaning no one is paying attention. Try to stick with one theme and be an expert in it – or be extremely entertaining, those are your best bets in developing a following. Criticisms in social media is that sometimes people share too much content. Sometimes a bit of mystery never hurts, right?
What are some of the responsibilities a social media maven has?
Depends on who you are and what your goals are. Ultimately, your responsibility is to make sure your communication does not mislead anyone or create life damaging rumors or gossip, because news spreads like wildfire on the internet and can be permanent digital ink. It’s the old television principle where if it’s on the internet it “must be true”, much like how back in the day, if it was on television “it must be real” – but this was before reality tv hit the air and social media became a career. I mean, sometimes my mom would say to me, “So explain this to me Candy, people pay you to like things on Facebook and Tweet? I don’t understand how this relates to your law school education?!”
How did you get into social media or freelancing in general?
Basically I have always enjoyed creative expression and communication. In past times this was done through journals, writing articles finishing that great American novel. It was higher quality writing in former times, now with all this media, you reach a larger target but often I feel the quality in intellectual communication has slipped and so much information becomes fabricated because there is less barriers to publish writing online – it’s a free zone for anyone with a laptop and wifi to have a voice. I became a freelancer because I wanted a change from the corporate culture and to be honest, 80% of my life, I worked for myself as a sole proprietor, mainly in creative fields out of passion, without a heavy focus on profit, which made me more of a social entrepreneur at heart.
Also, since my German speaking ability is only a mere B1, it was competitive to take on roles that were appropriate for my skill level, due to the language barrier, so I created my own working possibilities by freelancing. Also, the visa büro informed me that I could not take jobs I was overqualified for, in the theory that I was stealing work from people who were not qualified to do what I do, so me taking their jobs was pigeon holing their opportunities? Thus, I became a freelancer.
What is your favorite thing (s) about being in Berlin?
Eating all the Asian food I want! Hamburg was beautiful but not so well adept in providing ethnic food options. Berlin just has options and opportunities along with great energy – besides, most of my friends are now here from school, I have always been an adopted local from Hamburg since several startups in this city have worked with me, and last but certainly not least – It’s the Year of the Fox, so I like to say at work “Once a Fox, always a Fox.” My new role is amazing, my CEO, Jan Beckers inspires me everyday by giving me freedom to experiment, while learning from his past experiences as a serial entrepreneur. I work with one of the best startup teams around – we’re international, we’re intelligent, and we’re loads of FUN. Amen to that! PS: We’re also hiring top talents, so if you feel like becoming a fox, contact me!
In November of last year, we introduced the first round of our mentorship program. Our goal was to give the women in our community an opportunity to receive guidance and connect with other women who have “been there and done it”.
So many of you applied to the program and we ended up with a spectacular pool of mentors and mentees. A total of 50 women, who were ready to learn and share experiences, kick-started the program.
As the mentor sessions moved along, we listened to your stories and collected your feedback. This launch was our pilot program and a chance for us to understand what your expectations and needs are. We took your suggestions, put our heads together and built a plan for a more structured and guided program. Thanks to everyone who participated and contributed with suggestions for improvement!
Needless to say, we are now totally stoked to announce the second round of the Berlin Geekettes Mentorship Program - and this time with a stellar supporter of the Berlin Geekettes community by our side:
Helping us realize the potential and positive outcomes of this program is Erin Gallagher of Google. Erin says:
“Google began as a startup in a garage and remains a startup at heart. The company is committed to helping build a vibrant ecosystem for startups and enabling the next generation of entrepreneurs to be successful. I feel really lucky to work for a company that values the development and growth of all it’s employees, and also supports the growth of local communities, and I am really excited to help bring some of this energy and support to the Geekettes Mentorship programme”
We are so grateful for Erin’s help and positive energy! She has been a member of our community for a while and we’re extremely happy to be collaborating with her on this program! Here’s to you Erin <3
On to the details:
Berlin Geekettes and Google will offer a 5-month long program that focuses on your professional and personal development. The program will kick-off on May 21st at the Google office here in Berlin.
Our goal is to connect you with inspiring women who lend their support while you are advancing your career, setting goals, and expanding your skills.
We are now accepting applications for mentors and mentees. The program is open to 30 mentors and 30 mentees. Just fill out this Google form, tell us a bit about yourself, and we will be in touch with you. We will match you based on your background, your expertise, areas of interests, and goals.
The application deadline is May 7th.
We will offer guidance and resources throughout the program. Each month carries a different theme that serves as fuel for your sessions and conversations with your mentor/mentee. These themes will serve as guidelines to give an idea of what you can accomplish together. You are of course free to chose your own topics during your mentoring sessions.
In addition to your individual meetings, we will host a group meeting for all mentors and mentees each month at the Google office. A speaker will join us to share her or his experience and insights on a topic that ties directly to the theme of the month. We will cover topics such as goal setting, realizing areas of improvement, maximizing strengths, negotiating, and interviewing skills.
At halftime, we will hold a feedback session at the Google office to make sure you’re getting the most out of the program.
Of course we will have plenty of networking opportunities throughout the program and a celebration at the end : )
We have so many wonderful women in our community and we hope you all consider being part of this program. Spread the word if you know someone who would like to become a mentor or mentee.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you soon! Much love,
Your Berlin Geekettes Team
My goal is very simple: to make a difference in my community by encouraging women to think big and take a slice out of the tech industry that they deserve.
Technology is at the forefront of pushing innovation in many different sectors across the globe. I believe there should be greater proportion of women in the creation and decision making process on all fronts. From investing, to mastering code, to jumpstarting one’s own business. If women can see that they have the exact same potential as men to succeed, the world — and everyone in it — will be blessed with more great, innovative ideas.
So how do we do this?
For starters, Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In offers some excellent advice. It applies to any woman, in any industry. Perhaps it just hits home more closely knowing that she is the current COO of Facebook, former Googler ;)
I know many women who are frankly too busy to read this book, so I’m going to host a 2 day evening workshop drawing out points from each chapter and hopefully sparking a lively discussion among both men and women (all are welcome).
(Image pulled from Time magazine)
Chapters of Lean In that will be summarized and turned into discussion points:
Introduction: Internalizing the Revolution
1) The Leadership Ambition Gap:
What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid?
2) Sit at the Table
3) Success and Likeability
4) It’s a Jungle Gym, Not a Ladder
5) Are You My Mentor?
6) Seek and Speak Your Truth
7) Don’t Leave Before You Leave
8) Make Your Partner a Real Partner
9) The Myth of Doing It All
10) Let’s Start Talking About It
11) Working Together Toward Equality
This evening I am extremely lucky to be attending the Zeit Conference featuring Sheryl Sandberg as a keynote speaker. Many thanks to my dear friends Niko Waeche and Josefina Petrus for making this happen. I’m eternally grateful for your generosity. I promise to take good notes.
So ladies, let’s start shaping our own destiny, let’s work hard, and together we can empower one another and reach our goals faster. We can become leaders and inspire the generation that follows us. You ready to Lean In? I am.
For tickets to both workshops, please RSVP here:
Jess Erickson will kick off this workshop with a introduction to the Berlin Geekettes community. Berlin Geekettes (BG) is an organization uniting, mentoring and promoting women in tech. BG offers the weekly blog series ‘Berlin Geekette of the Week’, monthly meet-ups, and connects women from all areas of tech expertise – spinning professional and personal relationships which provide support, connections, and inspiration for all members. BG has recently launched a mentorship program to connect current professionals with aspiring students and this spring kicked off Germany’s first all female hackathon.
Julia Hartz talks about a key element in attracting great talent to your start up: company culture. She will discuss how entrepreneurs can create an atmosphere that is geared towards both men and women – and why this matters hugely in the struggle to employ and retain the best and brightest talents for your company. At her company Eventbrite, more than 50 percent of the leadership team are female, half the workforce are female.
“Female networking groups like the Berlin Geekettes are really important in helping women interested in the startup scene to navigate the tech world. I am excited to share my own experiences in the industry with the Geekettes and to give insights into how we made Eventbrite a great place to work at - for men and women.” - Julia Hartz, Co-founder and President of Eventbrite
For more on this workshop please visit the NEXT Berlin website:
Note from NEXT Berlin Conference organizers:
Berlin Geekettes! Meet entrepreneurs, business avantgarde, designers and technological wizards at NEXT Berlin! On April 23 & 24 up to 2,000 international digital pioneers will mingle at the bcc (Berlin, Alexanderplatz). Expect inspiring sessions with Obama’s re-election campaign CTO Harper Reed, author Bruce Sterling, start-up guru Yossi Vardi, blogger Robert Scoble and with many start-ups pitching their ideas.
Raffle + Discount for Geekettes: Two individuals who strongly support the BG Workshop on social media (don’t forget to use @Nextconf & @berlingeekettes) will be selected on April 17th to each win 1 free ticket to NEXT Berlin. Additionally, NEXT has given our community a 20% discount with the code ‘geekettes13’. RSVP here: nextberlin.eu/tickets.
Interviewed by Svenja Goebel, Community Manager Berlin at Yelp.
What is your background & how did you end up in tech?
I have extreme wanderlust and love exploring new cultures. When I was 19, I moved to California to study international business. I did it completely on own, not part of Erasmus or an exchange program, so there where definitely some rough patches along the way. Since studying in the US is also quite expensive, I spent my summers working at festivals in Germany and working at university during school semesters. Living and studying in San Francisco, I realized how much I enjoy diverse and international environments, which sparked my interest in working at a startup. After graduation, I moved to Spain for some months and then headed to London for a MA in urban tourism. I knew that I wanted to work for a company that is doing cool new things in the travel sphere, and all that is currently happening in the startup world, which is what led me to Berlin. Before joining Waymate I worked at a PR Agency for a bit, but I always new that the agency world is not my sort of thing.
What is Waymate?
Waymate is a travel & transport navigator that simplifies travel planing. With Waymate you can compare and book multiple transport modes for long as well as short distances. Right now, you can book Deutsche Bahn rail tickets in less than 90 seconds. After our relaunch on April 22nd, you can compare and book tickets for air and overland travel. We will also be releasing an iOS app for transit navigation on that day, where you can compare public transit, carsharing, and taxi services in one go in cities across Germany. The scale of what we are doing is very much unchartered territory, and I am super excited to see how everything will evolve. What I do know is that Waymate will change the travel experience for the better.
Out of all the cities you have lived in (San Francisco/London/Berlin), in which one do you see the biggest potential?
Wow this is a difficult question, all these cities are in completely different stages. I am a huge San Francisco fan and loved living there. The city is super compact, but has so much to offer and is home to a bunch of interesting companies and people. London, I would say, is in between San Francisco and Berlin in regards to the mindset as well as the ecosystem. Berlin is still at the beginning in regards to many things. We all know that Berlin has massive potential, but is also facing challenges. It will be interesting to see what politicians, companies, employees, and investors will do in the next couple of years, and also, which role i.e. universities will take on.
Where to you draw inspiration from for PR & Community Management?
When it comes to inspiration, I have a bit of a crazy mindset. I always tend to get more inspiration from random things and from smaller communities, rather than the classical ones that you often hear about. When it comes to loyalty, I really admire Wacken Festival. They were able to establish a very loyal community that harbors a huge level of trust. Every year thousands of people spend a lot of money on Wacken tickets without knowing the actual lineup at all, simply on the basis that they trust the organizers to pick great bands. I also like Astra Bier’s Facebook page. I know it sounds a bit bizarre, but everything they do resonates their community 100% and you can see it in the interaction. For overall engagement and brand communication, I really like Virgin America and also Inspired by Iceland. They both are very creative and daring enough to try new things out. When it comes to PR, I would like to spend a day with Ryan Holiday. He is controversial and provocative, but I generally like it when people bend the rules and push boundaries. His style of communication, obviously doesn’t work for every company, but I think his unconventional manner and execution are creative and would give me lots of ideas.
What is your #1 advice for anyone who wants to work in PR/Community Management?
Hustle! Setting up a network is really important, and to execute that you have to hustle. In Germany, we tend to analyze things from the “Why should we do it” viewpoint, I believe that the “Why shouldn’t we do it” question is more applicable. Unless I can find good reasons of why I should not be doing something, I do it. This especially applies to events and community management; you never know who happens to be in the crowd. So work the masses and network like crazy!
When did you first hear about the Berlin Geekettes?
When I first heard about the Berlin Geekettes I had just been in Berlin for a couple of months. A lot of women underestimate themselves and overanalyze rather than just going out and giving things a try, as their male counterparts do. The Berlin Geekettes are a great network for women in tech to overcome these boundaries; you meet women who are supportive, give advice, and also animate women to give new things a try – it is a network of opportunity. Many women pressure themselves too much and are too afraid of failure or not performing well, but life is about trial and error – or at least that is what I believe. We need to push ourselves to try out new things and use our skills, rather than questioning whether we are good enough. I just took part in the Geekettes community manager panel, something I have never done before. But I knew that if I gave this a shot, a Geekettes event would the perfect setting. People are supportive, so there is less pressure, and you can experiment and discover new strengths. I am sure that many others have been in similar situations, be it interviews for magazines, appearances, or discussions.
If you were not working for Waymate, what would you be doing?
I’m really into music and traveling, so best would be something that combines both. It would be a job where I can challenge myself and learn something new every day, and a little bit of traveling should be in the mix too. I think organizing festivals, concerts, tours would be something right up my alley. Or something completely on the other side of the spectrum like being a criminal profiler. I have always been interested in psychology, sociology, behavioral analysis, and the human mind in general.
Post by Rachel Uwa
A tech conference by the name of Codemotion is coming to Berlin May 9-11. It is being organised for the first time in Berlin after many successful years in Italy with topics for the Berlin event including web/mobile, game development, Maker and creative coding. The event, which will take place during Berlin Web Week, will be organised into one day of workshops and two days of developer talks and panels, as well as a maker lab for kids, a hard and soft(ware) hackathon, and a radical game workshop for startups interested in evolving their startup idea into its next generation. The Codemotion call for papers is open until Sunday, April 7th, so you still have a little time to get your proposals submitted! All you will need to do is create a login and once you receive an email you can enter in your title and abstract proposal. Codemotion is organised by female-led team Mara Marzocchi and Chiara Russo who are strongly committed to promoting more women in tech. They enthusiastically encourage the Berlin Geekettes community and all women in tech to send in their proposals!
Note from Amélie Anglade, Berlin Geekettes Tech Ambassador:
Please don’t let a 40-minute presentation scare you. If you don’t feel ready, can’t think of anything to present or think the guys will be better than you at this, read Tiffany Conroy’s We Are All Awesome website on that topic and get started with your proposal.
For more info:
Call for Papers:
To Register for tickets:
Berlin Geekettes were given 10 free tickets! Please send us a short statement on why’d you like to attend and you might be selected.
All submissions should be sent to Denise@berlingeekettes.com by April 11th, 2013.
Have fun ladies!
*If anyone is traveling to France this month, can they pretty please pick up a hard copy for us? Merci Beaucoup!