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Profile: Eva Werle

Advice for women in tech: “Women should seize the opportunity.”

JAX Editorial Team
women in tech

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? 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 Eva Werle, a managing director of the Berlin digital agency Basilicom.

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 tech to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Eva Werle, a managing director of the Berlin digital agency Basilicom.

Profile: Eva Werle, managing director at Basilicom

© Max Lautenschlaeger

Eva Werle is a managing director of the Berlin digital agency Basilicom. Basilicom sees itself as a strategic and technical partner for digital projects. The 50-strong team creates user-centered, digital solutions for clients such as Deutsche Bahn, Krombacher and Fleurop. As managing director of the agency, she is responsible for the agency’s orientation and growth strategy as well as strategic consulting in digitization and transformation projects. Eva Werle started her career in the classic agency business at TBWA, via product and business development in the chemical industry and finally as a strategic consultant in the digital industry. Eva Werle is a certified Coach and Scrum Master.

What got you interested in tech?

I’m a business economist. I studied at the University of Applied Sciences and then worked in various areas of marketing management. Whether it’s in communications, product, or business development, my focus is always on developing value.

In the past, I experienced numerous system integrations from different perspectives: enterprise resources, purchasing systems, project management systems, content management systems. The ideas and vision were always good, but the results were unsatisfactory. I believe that even despite the best technological implementation, a system’s introduction can still turn out to be a flop. For example, after two years of introducing the purchasing software of a very large software company, I can say only that the system led to burnout. Consultants closely fostered the development and implementation, but they didn’t manage the change. Again and again, I found these results amazingly far from what I imagined would be a good system, as they were too big, too complicated, or too expensive for what was actually needed. It was the same with website launches and relaunches, as well as their usability. This can quickly turn into a huge effort, and not everything can be solved with WordPress.

I had never planned to go into tech, but when I first talked to Basilicom, I immediately had an idea what this agency could do. We work on that every day and it keeps thrilling me again and again.

A day in Eva’s life

I’m the managing director of the digital agency Basilicom in Berlin. Together with the founder, Arndt Kühne, I run the agency. We are 50 people altogether, and about half of us are developers, with the other half divided between consulting, UX and UI design, and support staff and administration. On a typical day, I get up at 6:30 a.m. Between then and about 8:00 a.m. is my favorite time of day. Everyone is still asleep at home, and my environment is super quiet. It’s a good time for me, to organize my own thoughts and to prepare myself for upcoming decisions. On a working day, I sit about 90 percent of the time in meeting rooms with clients, or in the agency, solving challenges related to projects or that we are facing in house. Unless we have an event inside or outside the agency, I spend the evenings with my 6-year-old daughter and husband or go to sports.

A strong support system

My parents have always supported me. I never had the feeling that there was something that I wouldn’t be able to do. My own family today also supports me, because my job needs a certain amount of attention and thus everything else has to be well planned. I don’t have a role model. Instead, I have more a kind of guiding vision. I have an idea of how I want to work, what I want to affect, how a company could be set up in the future. I try to make this vision come true. Ultimately, this is what guides me in my day-to-day work and decision making.

Any obstacles along the way?

My CV is anything but stringent. I started in the classic advertising agency setting, with probably the most typical assignment you can think of: Henkel detergents and cleaning agents. But that was a long time ago. Then I moved into the chemical industry, then became an independent consultant, and now, Basilicom. I’d probably fall through the cracks of any recruiter.

Looking back, I can say that it was always the topics of innovation and transformation, in many facets, that fascinated me. I’m not just talking about the much-discussed digital transformation, but changes in terms of culture and society, business areas and markets, the way people work, the way they lead, their careers. If you want to influence change, you need courage, time and attention, and the will to work on yourself and your environment, to preserve what is good but to also make something new possible. I really demand this, and of course, it’s not always met by people who immediately roll up their sleeves. Not everyone wants to or can, go along with it. For me, sentences like “that’s not possible,” “it’s always been like that,” or “we’ve never done that before,” are a challenge. Today I ask “how” more so than “if.” That gets us over so many obstacles, in order to find a path to a goal together. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with a customer, partner or employee.

It was also a real challenge to become a mother while mid-career. At least, that’s how I felt. The first few years were very exhausting. I had to make some compromises, but I also made good use of the time. I am never completely inactive and after some time, I automatically start to think about what can be done. In addition, I am an independent person and feel better if I’m not dependent on others. This was difficult for me to commit to, and I was back on the job very quickly. Thanks to the day care center, that was easily possible and is a very good combination of both motherhood and career for me.

What are you most proud of in your career?

This year, we were named one of the top employers of 2019 by Focus magazine. I’m even prouder, that employees tell me in staff reviews how much they like working for us. This makes me incredibly proud because this is a vision that both— the company and I — are guided by. Incidentally, I’m also very proud that we have so many employees who are equally flexible and ready to go along with our own transformation. Basilicom has changed a lot over the last few years, and that requires people who are open to change — or transformation, as we like to call it today. I’m just as proud of our client projects. We develop outstanding technology to foster new possibilities for our clients. With each project, we improve the work, the customer and user experience for people who use our software. I think that’s wonderful.

Women should know that anything is possible and that the tech world offers them the opportunity to have a say in the future, including everything that they themselves consider right and necessary. It’s not only about developing something new, but about achieving something valuable. The tech industry will be an essential field in which these kinds of decisions and points of view will be asked for and needed. Women should seize the opportunity.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

On one hand, certainly in my generation, this is because the digital world during our education did not yet have the significance in the breadth of society that it does now. In fact, there were still people who claimed that the Internet wouldn’t last. There were hardly any female role models in the tech field. Today, there are a number of women in the tech scene — primarily international, like Marissa Meyer or Sheryl Sandberg.

I’m sure that women today have no inhibitions or reservations and just go about pursuing and getting trained in areas that really interest them. That alone should be the benchmark. I hope that many women are interested in the tech sector because it could be a strong motor to turn the professional world into an equal working world for women.

Today we have to be role models and demonstrate that working in the tech sector is completely natural. If we all operate as if it were a matter of course, without any doubt that it is, then it can actually be a lived reality.

I wish that there will be more and more women who move into the tech sector. I wish that they will recognize and use their opportunities in this field, because I am convinced that we women, especially in this sector, have the chance to shape our world. I see this not only as an opportunity for us women but for society as a whole. I don’t see any challenges that can be specifically assigned to the tech sector. Rather, I see it as a challenge for women to develop the courage to face the opportunities themselves – regardless of their superiors, society, politics or a quota of women. I find a women’s quota to be perfectly acceptable in principle. However, I see the challenge rather in developing a self-image for it, which we then pass on to our children as a given fact. In my view, transformation needs forces rather than rules.

Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?

Maybe. Projects, particularly in science and technology, would certainly have seen other points of view. We may have overlooked talents because circumstances kept women from these sectors. But is it futile to discuss? We are on the right track. The transformation and society’s changing attitudes are making progress, in my opinion.

The discussion about diversity is gaining momentum. How long will it take to see results from the current debate?

In which country? How broadly do we want to define diversity? In Germany, I definitely have the impression that things are changing here and developing for the better. Probably not as fast as some would like, but even just in Germany, we have to transform 80 million people to create a positive attitude to diversity — even though we’re all creatures of habit who might not strive for major changes and obstacles. So things will take time. Transformation and change are never enforceable but need time and people who drive them forward and foster them. I’m taking an optimistic view of the future.

Tips & tricks

Women should know that anything is possible and that the tech world offers them the opportunity to have a say in the future, including everything that they themselves consider right and necessary. It’s not only about developing something new, but about achieving something valuable. The tech industry will be an essential field in which these kinds of decisions and points of view will be asked for and needed. Women should seize the opportunity.

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