Category: Tankar och åsikter

Personal development and career-coaching

When I started recruiting, 5 years ago, I did not have any experience with interviewing or career coaching what so ever. I had no academic background in HR or People Operations, and frankly I was an introvert engineer with an interest in the human mind. I had to learn everything from scratch, how to search for talent, to contact them, get them into interviews and interview them. What I did not know at the time that was going to become a large part of my daily work was career coaching. I started recruiting directly from university and I started recruiting students and graduates. Naturally I had an understanding for them and connected with them well. As I grew into my role, I also started to see things that students and graduated did badly when they were looking for jobs or being interviewed. I started coaching them, or rather engaging in a conversation about this with them. I organized student-evenings where we’d go through how to write a CV or how to cope with interviews.

After conducting over 2000 interviews and reading I-don’t-know-how-many CV’s in my career, I found myself not only coaching graduates but also senior people in their careers. Developing and/ or changing your job or career is one of the largest decisions we have to make in life and naturally a lot of thoughts and options arise when you start thinking about making something out of it. Let’s bring these thoughts into actions.

Peace of mind
Peace of mind

It starts with you

Find your core values. No, it’s not new-age nonsense, finding your own values that you want to live by helps you make decisions and take the right actions towards your goal. When you act according to your own values you feel motivated and engaged. Values are quite general, like honesty, respect, responsibility, safety and creativity. You should focus on maximum 5 core values at a time. Your values may change over the course of life, and at different points of your career.

Find your greatest interests and passion. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it has to do with “work” or if it’s a hobby. Finding your interests and passion, and finding a job that correlates with that to some extent, will make your work life so much easier and rewarding. If your interests or passions aren’t obvious, try visualizing what situation you’ve been in when you enter a state of flow. Flow is the mental state where you are fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus when performing an activity. You have full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Find the best environment and atmosphere for you. Continue visualizing what you need in order to enter flow again. What environment do you need, physically? Do you need an open office space, a lot of good colleagues, special light or nutritious food? Also start thinking about the company culture and what culture will fit you the best. What do you need from colleagues, managers and what kind of atmosphere will you thrive in?

You don’t necessarily have to be looking for a new job; maybe you just want to make sure you’re on the right path? Once you have a clearer picture of what you want to do or where you want to end up, take action towards it.

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Start zooming in

Connect with your network. Are you on Facebook and/ or LinkedIn, this is pretty much done for you. Start looking up old friends, colleagues or people you went to school with. What do they do now? What connections do you have in common? It might suit you to focus on the role, or industry, or topic and not all at once. Start with where your passion lies, and from there it can take many forms. Write down interesting companies, roles and topics that you find during your research.

Connect with, and contact people. Don’t just send a generic “I want to add you to my network”-request. Ask a common connection if they can introduce you or write why you want to connect with this person. If you’ve read their blog, say so, if you are curious about their recent project – ask if they can tell you about it! People often really enjoy being contacted in a “human” way, and they will meet you. I’ve reached out to people this way, either to hear more about their idea, their company, or actually to “recruit” a mentor for myself. It’s humbling to receive a request like this. I think we all should start utilizing our network more and make them come alive! What does 600 friends on Facebook or LinkedIn mean, if you don’t interact with them?

It’s all about the attitude. If you feel that this is super awkward, I’ll guarantee you it will be awkward. If your attitude is that this is super natural, you are genuinely interested in the other person and what they do, or how they solved a problem, it will feel natural. What I’m talking about now is you as a person, meeting with another person – not approaching a company through a recruiter or HR. I’m not saying either that you have to be looking for a new job to do this, you just want to make the most out of your network. This requires an open mind to whatever might come out of the meeting. YES, it is going to feel strange the first time, and you might feel too humble and not feel comfortable to ask for their time, but remember – we’re all just people.


Some tips for the road…

When you reach out, tell them exactly what caught your interest with their profile and why you want to meet. It can be as fluffy as “I read your latest blog post and I thought it would be super interesting you get your view on something I’ve been working on…wanna grab a coffee?” or “I find your background super interesting, when you X at Y for example, and I’m looking to broaden my network within in this area, and I would love to meet you for a coffee to get to know you and the industry better. ” Find your own touch.

Prepare an agenda based on their profile or what you want out from the meeting. While in the meeting, keep it casual or as business as you want, but I suggest you don’t open with “So to start with my first question..”. Prepare what you want to know and be genuinely interested in the other person and what they have to say.

Sum up and agree on the next actions (if any). At the end, sum up the meeting and thank the person for taking the time to meet you. If you’ve found some common interests, business-intersections or actions that you’ve agreed on – that’s great! But don’t be disappointed if you didn’t, you still broadened or deepened your network and you should feel proud of that.

Happy networking!

 

There’s no I in Change

The past 1,5 years, I’ve not only experienced the tremendous work it takes for a global company to reorganize, disrupt and innovate into a product- and technology company. I’ve also learnt what it takes from the people working there.

It’s not the new office, or the new PowerPoint templates that define a change. People do. If you don’t listen to your employees or take care of them during a change process, they will leave. If you win over the people in your organization, you have everything to win going forward with the change.

I think Schibsted Reboot Conference is a great example of getting everyone on the same page. We gathered 1400 Product and Tech employees under the same roof, letting people get to know each other, engaging in inspirational workshops and listening to talented internal and external speakers. The history, what lead up to the change, the present, what we’re going through, and the vision and goal for this change was clearly communicated.

Check out #schREBOOT on Twitter.

It’s easy to feel threatened, insecure, and uncomfortable because things are ambiguous during a change process. When these feelings take the overhand of individuals, there’s a risk they will start acting selfishly and do everything they can to shake these feelings, naturally. People feel threatened, insecure and uncomfortable if they don’t get the information they need;

  • What is going on?
  • Where are we in the process, what can I expect?
  • What do you expect from me?

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I’m a part of a large company going through a change process, so what can I do?

Expect the unexpected

Teams change names every other week, you need to change desks every other month, new people start, other people leave; expect that things will change and do whatever it takes to smoothen the process.

Seek out information

Expect that you are under informed at all times, and that it’s expected from you to ask about what is going on. The people dealing with communication can’t read your mind, what do you want to know and what is important to you? It’s like a relationship; communication needs to work both ways.

Be solutions oriented

Things will be rocky; problems will arise, big and small. You will make huge impact if you show your problem solving skills at this stage. If you find a problem, or hear about it from your colleagues, take action and do something about it. If we can catch the problems small, it will be a much smoother ride.

See the bigger picture

You’re a part of something revolutionary! Your company is on a mission, so take a few moments during a week where you remind yourself what larger purpose you serve. What is this line of code, or this phone call worth? Whether the goal is to save the world, or revolutionize an industry, put it all together and look at the bigger picture.

Have fun!

Have kick-offs with your team, socialize and play games. You put in some hard work, make sure you have fun while doing it. Building stronger relationships with your colleagues in this phase is important. It will make you collaborate better and trust each other more if you know the other person well.

Growing a brand new Product- and Tech organization

As you might already know, I’ve been working as a technical recruiter for the past 5 years and most recent 1,5 years at Schibsted Media Group. Being a technical recruiter puts you in a position where you get to see everything that is going on in an organization. Hot tip, if you want to get a sense check on a company; go talk with their technical recruiter!

As a technical recruiter…

  • You need to understand the underlying strategy of the company.
  • You need to understand the purpose of every product, component or platform being built.
  • You need to understand the teams and the different roles in the teams.
  • You need to know who they are and what technologies they use.
  • You need to be able to advise your Hiring Managers on what vacancy to prioritize.
  • You interact with all managers (Engineering, Product, UX and Strategy) and with top management on a weekly basis.

On top of all the comprehension and learning you need to do, you also need to be a great team player and know how to solve problems systematically. Then there are some tools you should be able to use, some phone calls you have to make… and oh, you should be able to find, attract and hire top talent to build a world-class product- and technology organization.

Easy peasy.

Quick search on LinkedIn shows 193 jobs available as Technical Recruiter in San Fransisco, USA.
Quick search on LinkedIn shows 193 jobs available as Technical Recruiter in San Fransisco, USA.

 

Schibsted Products and Technology was the result of a strategy project regarding Digital Transformation back in 2014. Schibsted has been sort of a house of brands, owning over 120 companies in 30 countries. In total, we’re 6800 employees world wide working in media houses, marketplaces or growth companies. Schibsted has a strong foundation in publishing; ever since our founder Christian Schibsted bought his first printing press and started a newspaper. That newspaper was Aftenposten in Norway.

I don’t know how much you know about publishing, or corporate structure, or other Norwegian companies and their culture. But regardless of that, the story of what Schibsted is up to now, taking action on digital transformation of the whole company, is quite remarkable.

Taking into account that Schibsted has a track record of disruptive innovation and taking chances that no other media company has done before, this is still a huge transformation.

We are connecting the dots, and building an ecosystem of services online. We use the strength in our local brands that our users know and have developed a trusted relationship to, and our global scale that helps us reach over 200 million users every month.

We are changing the way we work. Product development and innovation will continue at our local brands to meet and exceed our users demands. The global products, components and platforms will enable each local brand to focus on their core, at the same time we get better insights in our users needs globally.

Building a global product- and tech org from scratch means we need to pay a little extra attention to some things, to mention some of them:

  • Company culture
  • Communication
  • Recruiting

teamworkA 176-year-old publishing and media company is re-inventing itself to become a global tech-giant; of course we need to focus on company culture. Besides the obvious support from top management, great action by global leaders and evangelists, paying attention to company culture means: recruit people that can drive this new tech culture forward. Culture is not the same as values, it is when employees live the company values that they become culture. Culture is people.

 

chatWe are 6800 people in Schibsted. During reorganization like this, it will feel like a rocky boat-ride and most people will feel uncertain at times and wonder what will happen to their career. Besides advocating that everyone should assume responsibility of ones own career and seek out information, we need to be good communicators. Every small piece of information will become essential in this change. We build a culture where people are not afraid to ask, raise their concerns or simply take action and start communicating more. Next, everyone need to understand the change, embrace it, find your place in it and start collaborating with others.

curriculum

Recruiting the right people at this stage of a process like this is crucial. The people we bring in need to be people who can start building the bike while riding it. The key is passion and motivation. We find the people who have the interest and intrinsic motivation to be on this journey and help build not only products, but also a brand new organization. Better yet, they’re in it for the challenge and knowing that they can make a great impact joining this early in the process. They need to be smart problem solvers who engage in any kind of difficult challenge. Since 2014 Schibsted Products and Technology has grown from 11 people to over 400 in four hubs; Oslo, Stockholm, London and Barcelona.

We’re still laying out the bricks as we go, but I just must say I’m so proud to be a part of this and to be working with such smart and amazing people.

Check out our blog: http://bytes.schibsted.com/

Real Journalism

I’ve never felt more motivated at work, and that’s because my values and the purpose of our products are aligned. It’s important, and it’s urgent.

“Our mission is to contribute to a functioning democracy by closing the gap between what citizens know and what they need to know about the world around them.” – Schibsted Publishing

We are in the forefront of reinventing the newsroom and challenge the global giants that call themselves Publishers.

My wish is that you have full focus on why we make this technology, and it is to do a job on behalf of society. We inform, to investigate, stories that someone doesn’t like that we investigate, but it’s a really important task. So yes, we do technology, and we do technology for a purpose. – Espen Egil Hansen, Editor in Chief at Aftenposten

 

I believe real journalism needs to stand up for itself. To inform and educate about the differences in journalisms and the so called publishers out there.

I started watching the TV series The Newsroom this weekend, which was actually a quite nice timing. The anchor McAvoy and his team set out to a similar mission.

“It might come as a surprise to you that some of history’s greatest American journalists are working right now, exceptional minds with years of experience and an unshakeable devotion to reporting the news. But these voices are a small minority now and they don’t stand a chance against the circus when the circus comes to town. They’re over matched. I’m quitting the circus and switching teams. I’m going with the guys who are getting creamed. I’m moved that they still think they can win and I hope they can teach me a thing or two. From this moment on, we’ll be deciding what goes on our air and how it’s presented to you based on the simple truth that nothing is more important to a democracy than a well-informed electorate. We’ll endeavor to put information in a broader context because we know that very little news is born at the moment it comes across our wire. We’ll be the champion of facts and the mortal enemy of innuendo, speculation, hyperbole, and nonsense. We’re not waiters in a restaurant serving you the stories you asked for just the way you like them prepared. Nor are we computers dispensing only the facts because news is only useful in the context of humanity.” – Will McAvoy in the series The Newsroom on HBO

Good Enough

Insecure, confident, overachiever or slacker, mindful or stressed, you are not only one of these things. The beautiful mind of yours, is a compound of these emotions and attributes. One day you might feel sad, another day, you feel invincible.

I want to try and explain what I feel regarding goals, my comfort zone and social media and how that is connected with feeling good enough.

I think “too much” and I believe that I will always have a bit of a stress dealing with this sinus curve of life. That sounded dark, but you know, it’s not. It’s exactly that – LIFE. I try and do my best at everything. It is like I hope that someday, like a lightning through the sky, out of a sudden, something will tell me “This is good enough” or better yet “You are good enough”.

My mind often tells me; You should be educated, be a great friend, a loving girlfriend, a party-starter, a collaborative colleague, an overachiever, a kick-starter, a co-founder, aspire to once become a super-mom, be a fitnessqueen and if you are something less, that’s not good enough. Being aware of these thoughts is a first step, changing the pattern with actions is a good second.

Goal-setting

If you think about it, you shouldn’t want to reach your goal, how fun would that be? “I’ll take the rest of my life off, I just reached my goal yesterday.” You’ll find a new goal, and a new challenge. Goals can be uplifting, or they can feel overwhelming. This has to do with how you set your goals, and how you think about yourself and your own ability to reach them. There are ways to write down SMART goals, but if you are not smart about them, they can easily be too fluffy or too hard to reach. They should connect with your inner core, your values and be sprinkled with your passion and dreams. Not the other way around.

Get a good mentor, a life coach and maybe you’ll have a few of them? I listen to my parents, successful women in tech, my boyfriend and my closest friends. You don’t have to listen to only one person at a time unless it’s you. You have the power to combine the advice and input from all of these sources to connect with who you are.

Comfort Zone

What’s with this famous Comfort Zone and the all the fuzz about being on the outside of it? Yes, it’s where you grow, plans are realized, dreams come true and you see pink skies, drink rainbows and poop butterflies. Until you hit a wall.

It’s not that I don’t agree about the above statement, but no one told me that I had to visit the comfort zone every now and then to make it work. The comfort zone is also for growth, it’s where you put your guard down, learn to trust, listen to and help other people. It is where you do the deep thinking about yourself, the world and how it’s all connected. You can’t do that when you’re uncomfortable and always on the go. Search for personal growth, a successful career or a kickass physique outside the comfort zone, but come visit your comfort zone once in a while to catch your breath.

Social Media

What does social media do to your mind? How do you handle the exposure, visibility and attention? I’m on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. I use them as different communication channels for different messages to different audiences. That’s what they are to me. I see myself as strong enough to be able to look through hundreds or thousands of fitness-posts on Instagram or successful profiles on LinkedIn, without letting it change me and how I feel about myself. I’m not sure that I am that strong though.

Break it down, sometimes watching these social media is really motivating and it is usually that day I feel invincible. “I can reach this form too, I can get abs!” “I too can co-found a company!” Other days, when I’m sad, I might look at the pictures and my inner voice tells me “You’re not good enough, look at you, that is never going to be you.” How can I learn to understand this pattern, and stay away from social media when my mind can’t do anything constructive with the message?It’s so easy to state, “I’m not affected by social media”. But it’s not that easy. I believe that some can learn to become aware how it affects them, some won’t ever get affected (negatively) and some should probably not be on social media because of the complexity of messages and interpretations.

If social media make you question if you’re good enough, try and make a change.

Often, women are found to be the insecure overachievers to a larger extent than their male peers. What I found has helped me is to talk about it openly. Share your success, share others success, share your insecurities and back each other up. It is not hard being a woman in tech, or in random male dominated environment, nor is it easy. It’s ever-changing, but it’s not until we have reached the same norms and dogmas as foundation for both men and women outside and inside tech communities, that we can stop talking about it.

Why I want to build products users love

I’ve just attended the Mind The Product Conference in London 30th of September 2016 with 1400 attendees and speakers, among others, Marty Cagan, Lisa Long, Simon Cross, Jeff Gothelf, and Jeff Veen.

I co-organize the Product Tank Meetup, after attending the first one ever in Oslo organized by Lisa Long and the crew in late 2015. Therefore I was a volunteer at the conference in London, helping out with everything from registration, to sponsor care and guiding people to the after party.

Next Product Tank in Oslo 27/10: Matchmaker: Creating Corporate/Startup Powercouples

Next Product Tank in Stockholm 6/10, sponsored by Schibsted: “A day in the life of a Product Manager: what does the role look like in different companies, industries, and levels?”

mtp-logo

After organizing the Women In Tech Conference in Stockholm earlier this year, I thought this opportunity to volunteer at the MTP Conference in London was both for learning more about organizing large conferences like this, and also for networking with Product Managers from all over the world.

What I enjoy the most, after hearing about what challenges they are battling or what disruptive or life-changing products they are building, is to hear about how they entered the role as Product Manager.

There are so many varieties of the role to start with. Product Managers exist in the businesses of hardware, services, software, retail and much more. They are in small startups and in huge organizations. They come from different backgrounds such as tech, UX, marketing, customer support, recruiting, sales, etc.

While a Product Manager at a startup might be an informal role because of the need of wearing so many different hats, a Product Manager at a large corporation could have a thought out career ladder going from Individual Contributor to VP, leading not only product development but also leading teams.

What ties them all together is the desire to work with a problem from many different angles. They enjoy and should be quite good at talking to the sales teams, aligning product goals with the business goals. They should also be comfortable sparring with the technical teams, using data from the data science teams and customer support teams to improve their product. They should know what metrics they should observe and last but not least they should build products that users love and dare to challenge the status quo.

They should also be strategic thinkers and informal leaders, having influence over that many different functions and teams without any real mandate over those teams. Aligning stakeholders, prioritizing features to build after careful consideration of the business plan and what the users want, and will love.

what_is_a_product_manager

But let me get back to where they came from and how they entered the role. So many of them ended up in Product Management by accident. The customer support and sales person that were talking to customers all day, knowing what they would pay for if they could get it in a product, steadily learning the needs of the users. The software engineers that constantly suggested not only new technical solutions for a problem, but helped find and understand the problem itself. The UX- or marketing-person that learnt through analyzing data, conducting interviews with users, and constantly wanted to improve the look, feel and experience of the product. And perhaps the wild card; the recruiter that knows the business goals and the strategy, that knows all the roles in the company and what they do, that manages the expectations of the stakeholders and conducts interviews and identifying candidates needs all day.

For my own part, going from working as a Technical and Product-recruiter to Product Manager is not a far-fetched idea. I have the technical background, and the curiosity about technology and solutions since young age. I started at the “technical program” at High School where I dove into programming, networking and design. I couldn’t really choose between the tech-specialization and the design-specialization. Nor could I choose to leave extra languages or subjects such as psychology out of the mix. Knowing what I know today, I’d say I had the beginning of a mindset of a Product Manager already back then.

Continuing my academic path at KTH, Media Technology, I thought I would still be able to dive into both technical and design-problems. I turned out to be right. Studying subjects as maths and physics, computer science and programming, marketing and design, and media and perception, continued to broaden my scope of interest.

When I started to look for a job, my first job after graduating, I did not know what I was. I didn’t really fit in to any of the job descriptions out there. I had a passion for the digitalization of the culture heritage (libraries, museums and archives) as well as the re-invention of the newspaper, digitally. But it was too early to find relevant jobs for me, as a new graduate, in these areas. So I thought I would become a consultant, as so many other of my friends did. I thought that as a consultant, I would get to work with a lot of different things and not having to choose my path just yet. I was quite wrong. Many consultancies make you choose from the beginning, do you want to go in to management OR technology? And if you are kick-ass at being in the middle there, you did not fit in. OK, so my interest for psychology and people felt like a safe bet, and I got a job as a technical recruiter, with the ambition and promise that I would get to do something else after a while. The second was a lie, as it turned out, I would not get this opportunity at my former employer, so I switched.

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I started in Schibsted Media Group about 1,5 years ago as a Technical- and Product recruiter. We started from scratch, building Schibsted Products and Tech, which been a great journey! I’ve learnt so much! I was managing stakeholders in different locations (at one point in both Stockholm, Oslo and London) and building processes while working full time as a hands-on recruiter delivering 58 hires over the past year. I’ve learnt much more about different roles and what they do (Data Scientists, Software Engineers, Product Managers, Business Analysts, Interaction Designers etc.). I’ve learnt how to build successful teams and how important culture, communication and collaboration is in a changing and growing organization. I would say my people skills have evolved, and my understanding of people and how they make choices, and why or why not they perform or develop.

I have received the opportunity to try my wings as an Associate Product Manager in Schibsted. Not only have I finally found a role that is cross functional, but I will also get to work in Publishing alongside fantastic teams that are developing the new digital newsrooms and challenging the way we consume news today.

I don’t say I will be a flawless Product Manager to start with, I have so much to learn, and I’m excited! I will have to learn more about data and metrics, building analytics tools for different audiences. I will need to learn to fail fast, learn and iterate. I will need to learn new tools. I want to learn more about existing and new technology to stay on top of what is coming. I want to improve my influencing skills, and being listening, humble and yet communicating clearly with all these different functions. I will enter a team that I know is great, and will help me on this journey, and together we’ll develop and launch a new product in Schibsted not long from now.

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Why we need curated news

Why do we need, or want to consume news?

Consuming news leads to:

  • Learning and empowerment
  • Culture and society
  • Democracy and debate
  • Globalisation and awareness

And what does this actually mean?

Consumption of information, news, science, math, philosophy…anything, leads to learning about ourselves, understanding who we are and forms our personalities. This empowers us, and gives us confidence.

Being a part of a smaller culture or society leads to recognition, contribution and a sense of feeling at home. Feeling like a part of something greater. It’s not only the individual that strives for this to happen, it’s also beneficial for the larger group that forms this culture or society. The discussions goal is to create a common direction for the society to thrive.

Receiving access to others viewpoints and not having to be “locked in” your own culture, society or your own way of thinking or perceiving the world will lead to more discussion and debate about what’s right or wrong. It empowers the individual to express their view as a part of a democracy. Knowing about other views and perceptions changes our own thinking, and being able to take active part in the discussion changes it yet many times more.

Globalisation happens when we stop thinking only about ourselves and our own culture or society, and start connecting the dots. Understanding the events that lead to other events in another part of the world. When we start thinking bigger like this, we also get more innovative and try to improve or challenge what we see and experience. You become not only aware, but a game changer.

This is how I see news impacts us today, in general and simplified terms of course.

old-newspapers

What is news, and who is responsible for what news is?

Hundreds of years ago small societies got their weekly, or sometimes daily news at the church where debate and discussion regarding local events happened in real time and face to face.

Then came broadcasting media, newspapers and television was the broader sender of information, and the people around the world was the receivers. It was one-to-many communication and the receivers were not responding to the message that was sent.

Through the Internet, information could flow between broadcasting media and the people, making it a two-way communication. Although the media did not know what to do with all the feedback they suddenly received back from the audience.

Today information and news is flowing everywhere (Internet, Radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, apps, social) and the sender is anyone (blogger, vlogger, journalists, brands, etc). Every millisecond of our day is filled with information and the noise is challenging our minds and making it harder to take in, understand and come to a conclusion about what’s right or wrong, and challenges our well-being in terms of lacking confidence, focus, or peace.

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How can we close the gap between what people know, and what they should know about the world around them?

The world around them is bringing us back to the smaller society, the focus, the tangible debate and the answers.

Close the gap could be teaching, informing and guiding, also providing better focus, and minimising the noise.

  • We need personalised news. But not too personalised that leads to the filter bubble and putting democracy and learning at risk, and risk not being exposed to others perceptions.
  • We need trusted sources of information. We need educated journalists that learn to become critical, and scrutinizing, presenting the truth objectively.
  • We need to educate the audience and show the difference between a trusted source and a subjective source of information. Can anyone be a trusted source of information? How do we solve this? Brands, or blogs, independent journalists or collaboration? Everyone is contributing to the information, the news and the noise out there.
  • We need to listen. The broadcasting days are over, the information is not ours to give and not get any reactions or criticism in return. Creating debate is the foundation of a good and working democracy.
  • We need an editor. We are a species that like being in a group, recognised, accepted. That probably means that if we were to choose our own information and news, regardless the format, we would build the filter-bubble around us. We need an un-biased guide to help us close the gap, and give us the aha-experience, and open our minds to others ideas.
  • We need to be active every second. The print newsroom is originally planned on a 24-hour clock, if their product was a daily newspaper. Now, it’s a matter of seconds before something new news-worthy information happens in the world. Be it that someone near to you just became a grandmother, that a political scandal was just unrevealed or that the world is facing a new climate threat.
  • We need to be in-depth, too. Investigating, criticising, scrutinising, and challenging those in power and continuously learning and educating about the world.
  • We need to be adaptive. Adaptive to personalised needs, and how people of the world want to consume their news. In written, on mobile, or through video on your desktop? Once a day, or “on the pulse”? And adaptive to the technology choices we make to deliver on the promises of being fast, trusted, curated etc.
  • We need to understand our users. Using the data and understanding the behaviour of our users will make us deliver better products and deliver on our promises.

We have somewhat of a mission ahead of us and I’m happy and proud to be a part of this change.

This post is written in a fast manner without links to relevant sources. View it as my personal viewpoints.

My master thesis 2011: https://www.nada.kth.se/utbildning/grukth/exjobb/rapportlistor/2011/rapporter11/kvernplassen_anna_11014.pdf

 

Gender Diversity Maturity

When it comes to gender diversity in male dominated fields in general, technology fields specifically, people’s view of what it is or why it matters varies tremendously. I, too, have seen it from different angles and reflecting over this, I realized I’ve reached different stages of maturity. Reflecting even more, I now find it interesting to see what people’s responses are when talking about gender diversity in technology and I can meet them and their thoughts better if I know what maturity stage they are in.

I will try and give an overview with examples.

Stages

Stage 1. Oblivious

“Is there a gender diversity problem in tech, I had no idea?”

This is the stage that people often far outside the industry find themselves in. They have professional roles and a life situation that does not have them reflect over these kinds of issues. Often, one finds the world pretty much equal and fair for both* genders besides the awful stories about female circumcision or using assaults and rape of women as a weapon in war you may hear on the news, of course that’s extremely awful!

*or how many you assume there are

 

Stage 2. Inexperienced

“I know how the market looks and I’ve heard there’s a problem with gender diversity in tech roles.”

I was in this stage when I studied technology, both at high school and at university. I was drawn to solving problems, to understanding technology, and to learn how things worked “behind the scenes” – that was what got me into tech. I knew there were mainly male students in this field, but it didn’t bother me as I’ve always kind of had more male friends than female friends anyway. At high school and at university, there was this buzz about there being too few women, and that we needed to do something about it. I did not really see why this was a problem, but it got me thinking. I could already then clearly see that the mixed groups, with both male and female students, often delivered better results in projects and their journey to the goal seemed more interesting – they had more intense discussions about the project and passion for solving the problem from different angles.

 

Stage 3. Uncomfortable

“I know we need more women onboard in our team or company, but I don’t really understand why. I just want to hire the best person for the job, regardless.”

Getting into recruitment early in my career, facing this issue upfront, I’ve seen both recruiters and Hiring Managers go through this stage. You’ve read some reports that gender diversity and well-balanced teams supposedly increase revenue of companies; they build better products. You read this article that growing female leaders in your organization is a must, it’s kind of modern to do so. But you haven’t seen first hand what homogeneous teams struggle with, or how unhappy the users of your product are when they are lacking an important feature your male-dominated team did not think of – a way of tracking their menstrual cycle in your health app… Hiring “the best person for the job, regardless gender” is not a defense and it’s not an argument of why we shouldn’t focus on gender diversity – it’s merely a perception. And it’s very much a correct one, but a plain and empty one.

 

Stage 4. Aware

“I get it now, bringing in more women to my team is beneficial and I need to focus on this a little more to get the outcome I want.”

Imagine you would treat your team as a product, and the people in it are the features. You want your product to be successful so you want to add features that the end user wants and needs. Just adding more features doesn’t necessarily make the product better – but it’s about what features you add and how they integrate with the main purpose of the product. Your end user is you, the manager, in this case, building your team to reach a goal. When the end users of tech products of the world is 50% men and 50% women, and only 10 – 20% of the students graduating from technical universities are women – you do the math. In order to get more women onboard on your team, you need to try a little harder, search and adapt your interview process and teams to attract and retain a female workforce.

 

Stage 5. Adaptive

“I’m focusing on it, but what should I do? I believe it starts with recruitment, company culture and talent management…”

If you are lucky, you’ve reached this stage when starting to build a team, or a company for that matter, and you can incorporate small changes into the process that will help you create a more diverse and successful team. You understand there’s not one simple solution, but a holistic one. Getting your recruitment team aware and add diversity sourcing plans into the general sourcing plan. Looking at your recruitment process; is it beneficial for both male and female candidates? Make your interviewers aware of their biases, and keep an ongoing discussion. Is the Employer Value Proposal (EVP) right for both men and women, how do they respond to your offer? Research the company culture by interviewing women who already work for you, and send out surveys. Make it easy for everyone to become aware and see if the company culture is beneficial for both genders. And in general, how inclusive are your teams or company?

 

Stage 6. Determined

“I understand the reports, I’ve implemented necessary actions to my talent acquisition and retention programs to tailor to both men and women. I’ve seen the positive results and will continue doing this and affect the market as a whole.”

Congratulations, you have now become a market leader in the field of technology management and are on your way of building a successful company that delivers products which users want and need. And the actions that you’ve taken was to make sure both men and women want to work for you… That’s simple, is it? Now we can spend more of our time on paying it forward, change the market, talk to the universities and better yet talk to pre-school teachers to make them aware that technology is the future – and that we need both men and women to create the future!

 

Now of course, regardless of which stage you are in right now, you often won’t find yourself discussing or even arguing with people in the same stage as you. So please go out there, raise the question, or tell an anecdote, to get the conversations started.

Oh by the way, there’s no going back, once you’ve reached a stage – you can only move forward!

Debatter och främlingsfientlighet

Hörde precis på TV denna morgon, norska God morgon Norge där de diskuterade frågan “Kommer flyktingströmmen från Europa och den ökade invandringen vara ett hot för Norge på längre sikt?”. Det går ju att diskutera hur härligt vinklad och fluffig fråga det egentligen är, men det jag reagerade på var de olika partnerna som diskuterade (jag såg dem inte och vet därför inte vad de heter). Jag slås än en gång över hur lätt det tycks vara att slänga ur sig förenklade vridna meningar om flyktingarna och invandringens samhällspåverkan i en negativ mening, medan de som verkligen har något vettigt att säga inte får tillräcklig tid att prata i debatter för de har en mer komplex bakgrund till sina argument och påståenden som tar längre tid att förklara medan programledaren strävar efter att ge båda lika mycket tid; så kommer ju den främlingsfientliga fram som den som “vunnit” debatten. Jag gillar inte det här alls.

Här borde ju medierna i alla fall låta varje part tala till punkt. Så kanske den stora massan någon gång förstår att det krävs mer än att googla “invandringens påverkan på sverige” och nöja sig med svaret i första länken, eller lyssna på dessa debatter och nöja sig med känslan att hen som fick tala till punkt var hen som egentligen bara slängde ur sig påståenden och förutfattade meningar som hen kunde kommit på själv i duschen, utan någon som helst analys eller forskning bakom. Medan hen som prövar förklara ett större samhällsperspektiv hur konflikter, krig och länders relationer hänger samman, eller forskningsrapporter, analyser och undersökningar inte ges tillräcklig tid.

Det här inlägget är skrivet i “passion-mode” på 10 minuter och jag har inte hunnit gjort research eller läsa igenom inlägget. Jag tänker mig att det är något jag kommer vilja göra och skriva ett lite längre inlägg om detta.

Uppmanar alla till en källkritisk torsdag!

God Morgon Norge

Lås upp klubbhuset – om kvinnor i tech

Jag ser så många unga drivna kvinnor där ute. Bara i veckan tänkte jag “Shit, måste vara på min ålder, och har redan gjort så där mycket!” om en profil där omtalade hade rest och studerat i 4 länder, haft flertalet internship och fortsatt skulle slutföra en master i Computer Science. Vilken kvinna.

Jag börjar undra, var kommer hon ta vägen, kommer hon orka hela vägen till toppen? Vill hon det? Det verkar så, hon verkar stark, tänker jag.

Men som kvinna inom mansdominerade områden, som teknologi och ledarskap i teknologiföretag, är det många som känner igen sig i att man vaknar om morgonen och gör sig redo för fight varje dag. Det handlar inte om tydliga diskussioner med argument som haglar mot varandra på arbetsplatsen, det är inte en sådan fight jag pratar om, det är den fighten att hålla balansen mellan den du är och den du måste vara för att ”komma dig fram” och ”visa vad du går för” på arbetsplatsen.

Ett exempel jag har sett allt för många gånger i min redan unga karriär; affärer som blir gjorda i grupper av män över en öl (eller tre). Jag har till och med fått “feedback” om att jag inte följde med på den här ölen – så skyll dig själv, du ville det väl inte tillräckligt, du kunde fått följa med, ju. För mig handlar det inte om ölen, det handlar om miljön som uppstår där, det är inte jag. Eller för 15 år sedan, killarna som åkte på ”LAN” med tusentals besökare i varma lokaler, drickandes joltcola och knaprande koffeintabletter under studietiden. Det var inte heller jag, men jag gillar datorer ändå.

Inte bara affärer blir gjorda mellan män i liknande ”klubbar”. Studier och kunskap inom tech-relaterade områden blandas upp med en kultur som skapats av män, för män. En frizon där tech och kodning handlar om att få vara sig själv, att slippa det sociala spelet och att finna sin tillhörighet bland likasinnade män som brinner för datorer, spel och programmering. Kvinnor generellt i samma ålder söker sin tillhörighet just i det sociala spelet, i interaktionen med andra människor och de önskar i mindre grad dedicera sina liv till kod och datorer.

Många kvinnor kan ofta känna sig ensamma i dessa kulturer, kanske känner vi inte tillhörighet eller acceptans till den miljö och klubb som redan skapats eller så önskar vi att kulturen kunde vara ”lite mer mig”, det skulle kännas bättre då. Skapar vi sedan en klubb för kvinnor kritiseras den och det hetsas att detta, nej detta är inte jämlikhet, varför behövs det finnas en klubb enbart för kvinnor i tech/ ledarskap? För att det är en motkultur där jag kan vara mig själv och bli förstådd. Där det finns mentorer och trygghet…

De kvinnor som känner sig ensamma, som vaknar upp varje dag redo för fight… hur länge ska de orka?

Jag har sett det allt för många gånger redan, kvinnor som möter väggen. För det är några som fightas, utan att de nödvändigtvis vet om det, men när fighten blir för stor och deras backup eller gehör inte är starkt nog, då förlorar hon fotfästet. En stark kvinna, som länge orkat med och anpassat sig till kulturen för att bli en del av eller rentav förändra klubben, går sönder.

I boken ”Unlocking the clubhouse – Women in computing”, kapitel 6, sid 102:

”Women who accept the prevailing culture as the norm and who continuously compare themselves to this norm and find themselves coming up short are the one who suffer the most.”

De skriver om tech-kulturen på universitet. Men jag anser att detta gäller även på arbetsplatser inom tech och ledarskap.

”The goal should not be to fit women into computer science as it is usually conceived and taught. Instead, a cultural and curricular revolution is required to change the culture of computer science so that the valuable contributions and perspectives of women are respected within the discipline. Ultimately, this revolution serves not only the interests of the women involved, but those of the discipline itself.”

Ledarskap och tech har, enligt mig, många likheter i dessa klubbar. Utifrån ser det ut som att “hon inte ville nå toppen” eller “hon valde att satsa på familjen” när det hon egentligen väljer är att inte försöka slå sig in i klubben. Hon vill finna en balans, men den balansen handlar inte om jobb och familj, den handlar om balansen mellan hennes egna värden, intressen och önskningar mot normen, kulturen och klubben.

Det startar en nedåtgående spiral, detta ”misslyckande”. Vad blev det av denna starka karriärkvinna som var redo för fight varje dag? Orkar hon inte mer? 

Det finns otroligt många män där ute som stöttar kvinnor i liknande situationer, som ser verkligheten och stöttar. Det finns också de som väljer att inte förstå, de som har skygglappar på, och menar att arbetslivet inom tech och ledarskap är jämställt – det är väl bara att ta för sig lite mer! Jag ger dig ju plats, se här! Eller?

Vi behöver förändra kulturen och klubbarna inom ledarskap och tech för att locka både kvinnor och män.

Vi behöver inte män som stöttar och hjälper kvinnor i ”deras” kamp. Vi behöver att män och kvinnor tillsammans jobbar för att förändra miljön inom tech och ledarskap för att passa både män och kvinnor. Detta är ingen kvinnokamp. Detta är en samhällskamp.

Läs mer:

http://www.va.se/nyheter/2015/09/02/tre-skal-till-att-kvinnor-inte-kommer-in-i-styrelserummen/

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/unlocking-clubhouse