Interview Julia Kasper, founder of holzgesür
Julia Kasper founded holzgespür in 2014. Customers strive more and more for unique and individualized products and this is where holzgespür comes into play.
holzgespür is an online retail platform that offers customers the unique service of designing and customizing exclusive solid wooden furniture through its innovative 3D-online configurator. Leveraging on the family-owned carpentry for solid wooden furniture, holzgespür combines online expertise with extensive experience with manufacturing solid wooden furniture.
A lot of experts talk of a “glass ceiling” on women’s career advancement. What has your experience of this been?
I’m still at the start of my career as the founder of holzgespür, and so far I’ve not come across any glass ceiling. But I have heard other women in leadership positions talking about it, so I’m curious to see how it works out for me!
Do you have any words of advice for young women seeking to build a career in the digital economy?
The best advice I can give is: be strong and take courage! I believe that the way in which women typically communicate (if there is such a thing as “typical”) can be an advantage, particularly if they’re trying to break into a traditionally male-dominated area. Having the courage to use this advantage can be extremely empowering for young women.
Looking back on their careers, people often point to a defining moment when it all began. What was this moment like for you?
One shining moment for me was when we won a competition with the initial, basic idea for our business model. That was an amazingly huge confidence boost for me – it was proof that we had what it takes to succeed. At that time I had the good fortune to have help and support for my startup idea from two professors from my university (WHU). That all played a part in enabling me to start up holzgespür.
What can companies do to achieve greater diversity in their own organizations?
For me, diversity is about more than just gender. It’s also about language, ethnicity and age. Companies definitely need flexibility and openness to new ideas at top management level if they are to achieve greater diversity within their organizations. And, of course, it’s a well-known and proven fact that greater diversity leads to improved company performance…
Are schools and universities doing enough to prepare young people for careers in the digital economy?
Building up a digital skills base is of enormous importance for our future, and schools and universities need to play a key role in this. It’s an area where I believe a lot more could be done and new approaches could be tried. Having said that, I believe society has just as big a part to play. We basically need to have more courage to try new approaches and give things a go. So, all things considered, I’d say it’s up to each and every person to engage with the digital world. My grandmother (she’s 80) is my favorite role model for this. Her grandchildren have moved away from their home town, so in recent years she’s gotten used to staying in touch with them via Skype. When I was traveling abroad, she’d always complain, "My child, you’re never online!" I guess she’d forgotten that the seven-hour time difference between us meant there were few opportunities for us to both be online at the same time…
Read the other interviews of the series "Four women - four careers" here .