Women in Tech: “Anyone can develop. But being a great developer is very different.”
Four years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Emilie Gieler, Vice President of Platform & UX at Akeneo.
A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?
Two years ago, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Emilie Gieler, Vice President of Platform & UX at Akeneo.
Today’s Women in Tech: Emilie Gieler, Vice President of Platform & UX at Akeneo
Emilie Gieler is Vice President of Platform & UX at Akeneo. She brings 10+ years of experience in B2B software management to Akeneo.
Before joining Akeneo in 2013, Emilie was a product manager managing product development for a variety of small – large enterprises. At Amadeus in Europe, she led the travel booking platform for all online solutions.
Across her career, Emilie has focused on delivering value through user data, from her early days taking products she directly developed to market, to her current role leading the Akeneo product development team.
When did you become interested in technology?
When I was a child, my dad always told me to study computer science. He assured me that I would always have a stable job and thriving career, and years later I can confirm that he was certainly right.
During my internships, I discovered that technology can help people in very different meaningful ways. Whether in our daily or professional lives, technology has enabled us to solve some of the most challenging problems, making our lives easier overall. These insights have led me to continue my career in tech, and till this day I have not regretted it.
Looking at my professional experience, I genuinely enjoy working with very skilled people, in cross-functional teams. Software development process is a passion of mine: people build for people. After all, technology is a tool that requires a specific mindset.
How did you end up in your career path?
I studied to become a developer. This gave me a very good knowledge base, which still serves me today, especially having developed myself in the early years of my career. But being a developer is a vocation. Anyone can develop. But being a great developer is very different.
My primary interest was to ensure that my work would be useful, which falls under a different category called product management. However, at that time, there was no schooling or resources available for that discipline.
Moreover, product management was not as clearly defined as it is today in France. I often experienced difficulties explaining my role to other stakeholders at different companies. For example, often other job names for the role of the product manager were used, and in other instances the product manager role was available but the qualifications and specifications did not match.
It was important to me to diversify my skillset, ensuring I had experience in every touch point of a thriving company. But I was also missing life at a start-up. From my point of view, it was a fantastic opportunity to experience the launch of a company, witnessing its growth, and then being able to leverage that insight to reach new leadership roles that weren’t available to me before.
I had the opportunity to meet the CEO of Akeneo when he created the company. I have been living this unique journey for almost 8 years, and I have experienced much more than I could ever imagine!
Did you receive support from your family and friends? Do you have a role model?
My family and friends have always been there when I questioned my career choices. They know how I operate: I ask for their point of view, as it helps me to see things differently, taking a step back. Then I go into a sort of incubation period, and when I make my decision I go for it.
I don’t really have a role model. I follow some influential women across the Atlantic, how the media react, and what they send as messages. Currently, I am particularly interested in women in France. We are sorely lacking in visibility, and yet we are there.
Did someone ever try to stop you from learning and advancing in your professional life?
It certainly is possible, but I don’t remember a particular moment. When that happens, I quickly adapt and pivot, so that I don’t become dependent on this person. I prefer to weigh my options to reach my goal, than to keep climbing a wall that someone is actively working on building.
Helping people to grow when you have the same passion is an incredible opportunity that I am very proud of.
A day in Emilie’s life
I’m Vice President of Platform and User Experience at Akeneo, a SaaS software company that helps its customers to unlock growth by improving product experiences. I’ve been working at the company since 2013, and been VP Platform since March 2020. Before that, I was VP Product and led all non-engineering teams such as the product management, support and design teams.
I have regular meetings with my teams and stakeholders to lead all efforts related to the transformation of Akeneo products into a platform. I also take time to observe and analyse the market including trends, customers, partners, news, so that I can update our strategy accordingly.
What are you most proud of in your career?
In recent years, it’s management. Helping people to grow when you have the same passion is an incredible opportunity that I am very proud of.
Why aren’t there more women in tech?
In tech courses we were 5% women. In my opinion this is an alarming signal. Why are women not studying computer science? I sadly do not have the answer.
Then, there is such a shortage of people in IT that career change has become commonplace. I see more women aiming for a career change. It is certainly a positive, but there is still a long way to go, especially with the younger generation.
Could you name a few challenges (or obstacles) women in tech face?
It’s a fact, there are more men than women in tech. It’s a challenge we cannot ignore, and it requires managing legitimacy, difference, cliché, and so on.
Listen to yourself and follow your gut. Find your playground, meet players and have fun together! After all, tech is a field of opportunity.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
If we had more women working in STEM it would level the playing field and increase equality and diversity.
Diversity is the leading factor to innovate and increase business success.
The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?
I think it will take at least one generation. I consider mine as the transitional one. It is up to us to ensure that the next generation, our children, is the one that will close the debate.
What advice (and tips) would you give to women who want a tech career?
Don’t bother reminding yourself that you’re a woman in tech, it’s not always an easy place to work at and comes with unique challenges. Use your energy to achieve what you want to do. Listen to yourself and follow your gut. Find your playground, meet players and have fun together! After all, tech is a field of opportunity.
More Women in Tech:
- Women in Tech: Shani Gale, Director of Product Management at Snyk
- Women in Tech: Marie Godfrey, SVP of Products at Flexera
- Women in Tech: Hiral Patel, Founding engineer at Diamanti
- Women in Tech: Christin Matt, Senior Game Designer
- Women in Tech: Pernille Bjørn, professor & Head of Department for Research at the Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark