This week marks the annual celebration of International Women’s Day – a global event dedicated to recognizing the achievements of women across the globe and a call for gender equality. With this year’s theme being #ChooseToChallenge, we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the powerhouse women working across Exasol, as we continue to challenge gender bias and inequality, and collectively aim to create a truly inclusive place to work.
They’ve also each told us about a person in their life who’s provided inspiration to challenge the status quo. Let’s meet them!
Legal Counsel and Compliance and Risk Manager
Katharina works as part of the legal team here at Exasol. She is originally from southern Germany and now lives and works in Nuremberg. Katharina is a jurist and has two “Staatsexamen”, which are essentially law degrees in Germany.
“The most exciting part of my job is that I can support and cooperate with so many different people and departments,” she says. “With this as a prerequisite, every day has a new challenge and opportunity. Exasol has a very supportive environment and I really enjoy working in my team with a very strong inspirational female leader. She encourages us to excel and advance in our careers.”
If she were to give advice to her younger self, Katharina says: “sometimes a reasoned “NO” can also be an answer.”
Before embarking on her journey at Exasol, Milena was a Software Developer in Cuba then Brazil, for around 15 years. She later joined Exasol as a Software Engineer as part of the Quality Assurance team. Today she works from Nuremberg, Germany.
Milena’s role as an engineer is varied. She writes tests to improve the test coverage of certain Exasol features using the frameworks in the platform’s development environment. She also works on statistical analysis and developing scripts for monitoring and reporting. On top of that, Milena works in collaboration with the Engine team to programme tasks and fix any bugs that arise.
“The most exciting part of my job is to come up with programmatic solutions in order to automate and extend the coverage of what is tested beyond the human capacity,” she says. “Developing those kinds of programs for testing is my passion.”
“Working in such a big and technical company like Exasol is a dream for a lot of professionals and having the opportunity of being part of the family is an honor to me. I feel welcome and supported in this company, and I know there is always room to grow.”
For someone who started their career in Cuba and then Brazil, Milena would advise her younger self that “it might be scary and not easy at all, but it’s worth it! Cross the Atlantic and keep learning and trying your best.”
Cloud Alliance Manager
Suzanne’s role is to support Exasol’s growth strategy by evangelizing and bridging any gaps between our solutions and the cloud ecosystem. As an alliance manager, she helps the company grow and expand by establishing connections with other stakeholders and partners.
“I have over 25 years of experience in sales and my best skill is to build long-term relationships with clients and colleagues,” says Suzannne. “I’ve worked at many companies where I felt part of the family, however since joining Exasol – in strange times where I have yet to meet my colleagues face-to-face – I truly feel part of a family that wants everyone’s success. Because their success is our success.”
If Suzanne could talk to her younger self she would say: “Be strong, be yourself and never let anyone tell you to change who you truly are.”
Penfan helps teams and companies craft products to solve problems that matter to their customers. Prior to joining Exasol, she spent almost four years managing and leading cross functional creative teams at Airbnb, solving a range of business problems – from making booking easier to implementing dynamic pricing. Penfan currently heads up design at Exasol and works across all aspects of the company’s look and feel.
“What I love about Exasol is the team – the incredibly smart, kind and fun people I get to work with every day. They are mission-driven and customer-obsessed, which makes them incredible listeners to insights generated through research as well as champions for design thinking. It’s tremendous to drive impact in an environment like this.”
To her younger self, Penfan would recommend seeking help:
“It’s ok to be vulnerable. This mindset shift over the years has helped me build trust and long-lasting relationships with everyone I’ve come across. Being vulnerable, to me, means being humble and authentic; admitting to what I don’t know and open to learn.
“In some of the most difficult transitions I had in my personal and professional life – from switching careers from science to design, becoming a parent and transitioning back to work after months of absence to being open to ask for help and resisting the idea of being right and perfect – helped me overcome humps, learn more about myself and opened doors to opportunities that were unexpected.”
Katharina, Milena, Suzanne and Pen-Fan are just a handful of the inspirational women we have working at Exasol. As a business, we continue to support diversity and inclusion and have introduced a number of initiatives, like our Diversity Champions and Women of Exasol group, to champion the progression of women working in technology and raise awareness of this important topic.
For International Women’s Day 2021, Exasol’s Chief Communication Officer, Deborah Thomas, joins host Helena Schwenk on the DataXpresso podcast to dive into a range of topics related to the celebration. The conversation touches on the relevance of IWD in 2021 and the pair’s views on the progress made around equality and diversity. Plus Helena takes the opportunity to ask Deborah about role models – both male and female – and how to attract more women into tech.
Listen to DataXpresso episode 23 here.