Although IT is stereotypically perceived as men's domain, more and more women pursue their career paths in infotech. Meet exceptional women in DB Schenker IT Structures whose stories can be an inspiration to others.
Anna, what was the beginning of your professional career?
My first serious job was precisely in line with my education. Before DB Schenker, I was working on the optimization of processes in two typical production companies. My job was strictly connected with the implementation of a lean management approach in the production field. Later on, many initiatives from the area of lean management have grown to such an extent that it was impossible to implement them without proper project management. That's how I've started to develop my PM skills and consequently moved my career into those fields.
In 2011, I joined DB Schenker in Poland as a Project Manager. The company was then on the edge of cultural change and started introducing the lean management approach in logistics operation.
It's an exciting career path, from production engineering to project management in the land transport area. Can you tell us how did you get to the present stop in your professional life?
As a Project Manager in Land Transport Business, I dealt with many exciting development projects that were changing the logistics business. Over time, there were more and more new initiatives related to IT.
It perfectly illustrates how essential is an innovative and reliable technology for the current logistics and how this sector evolved during the last decades. You can simply say that over time I became a Project Manager specialized in IT. One of the projects I led was the migration of the local warehouse management system to IMI - the corporate solution. After the project phase, when the IMI Competence Center was established in Warsaw, I felt that this is another development opportunity for me and have just gone for it. Right now, I've been a Head of this exceptional team for more than five years.
What is IMI actually, and what is unique about your team?
IMI is a warehouse management system used in contract logistics to control and manage day-to-day processes in the warehouse. My team is responsible for developing, maintaining, and daily support for the system's end-users, mainly DB Schenker customers' representatives.
We often get in touch with clients as soon as at the very beginning of the tender process. Meetings with customers and onsite visits in warehouses are like bread and butter for us. As a result, we have regular and direct contact with the business and can look at our processes from the client’s perspective.
Being so close to DB Schenker customers, we can go beyond the usual methods and schemes used in the development and support teams. I believe that efficient IT specialists have to understand that they work for the customer and try to act this way.
You lead the team of 10 people, currently males only. Is it a challenge for you to manage a wholly masculine team?
To be honest, I haven't even thought about it and regarded it as a challenge. I'm trying to perceive my team members as a group of great, engaged individuals who are devoted to their job and do it in a great way. I never look at any of them from the perspective of their gender.
Current circumstances force you to manage your team remotely. How is it going?
At the very beginning, there were moments when I could even observe an increase in our efficiency. But there were also adverse effects related to lack of personal contact and time spent together. In particular, the conceptual work on the implementation of the changes requires many interactions and close cooperation.
We all felt the discomfort, but the situation was not entirely new for us; we have already worked in close collaboration with the teams from Sweden, Finland, and the UK. Fortunately, we have not been totally cut off and chained to our laptop screens at home. Despite the pandemic, many local projects in Poland were carried out and required visits to warehouses and meetings with customers in safe conditions. In case of development projects in other European countries, we replaced face-to-face sessions with online workshops due to the travel ban.
Anna, your job seems to be exciting, but what about work-life balance. What do you do in your free time?
I am a person who loves to learn and try new things, so I have many interests and passions. The biggest of them is paragliding. I tried it for the first time five years ago, and I've fallen in love with this sport from this moment on. It makes my dream of flying come true! I usually do it in the Alps but also in the Polish mountains. This is not the easiest activity, and to start, you need to pass an exam and get a license from the Civil Aviation Authority, but it is worth it! My longest glide was over 60 kilometers, and this is a feeling that cannot be described in words. I also completed a parachuting course, but still paragliding is much more my thing.
Additionally, I love riding a motorcycle. I usually go on longer trips around Europe with my husband. Recently we explored a large part of Romania this way. Another thing I tried in my life and I was really into it for some time is a violin. I used to practice during my studies and was focused mainly on classical music. Right now I've shelved it a little bit, but I'm still very fond of this beautiful and challenging instrument.
What would be your advice to young girls thinking about a career in IT?
The IT world is becoming more and more interesting every day, and its high dynamics makes it a desirable direction of career development for both men and women. All the more so, women should not give up this possibility basing their beliefs on the already outdated statement that IT is the domain of men. This is confirmed by the fact that women have been working already in every area of IT and are great specialists. Young women should be confident about their technical skills and enter IT courageously!
The series of articles #WomenInIT features inspiring female colleagues and their IT career paths at Technology Solution Center. Next interviews with our Super Women will come soon!