Martina Koederitz is General Manager of IBM Germany since May 2011. Since April 2013, she is also General Manager of IBM Germany, Austria and Switzerland and thus responsible for the DACH region. Previously, she was member of the board and Vice President Sales IBM Germany.
From 2009 to 2010, she worked as Vice President General Business & Channel, IMT Germany, which comprises hardware, software and services solutions and the collaboration with business partners. Before, she filled the position of Vice President IBM Systems and Technology Group (STG) in IMT Germany.
Additionally to her position within the Steering Committee of the German Industry association (BDI) and the IT association BITKOM, she is active in numerous organizations, including the Donors' Association for German Science, VDMA and the association Stiftung Rechnen. In S
A lot of experts talk of a "glass ceiling" on women’s career advancement. What has your experience of this been?
This "glass ceiling" mindset is pretty much a self-fulfilling prophecy. Take climbing Mount Everest, for example: if I’m constantly dwelling on the fact that the air is getting thinner, I’ll probably never make it to the summit. Irrespective of gender, it’s important to believe in oneself and not be paralyzed by fear that there might a be a "glass ceiling" out there somewhere. Time and again I encounter women whose own perfectionism prevents them from even making a start on their projects and plans. I believe that if you value curiosity and personal ambition over perfection, the "glass ceiling" will break all by itself!
Do you have any words of advice for young women seeking to build a career in the digital economy?
Everything is becoming digital – if it isn’t already. This is throwing up new questions in all areas of life, whether it’s transport, energy or health – questions about what we can do now and in the future to make our world a better place. For those with the courage to seize them, the opportunities and possibilities are massive! My advice to young women, therefore, is: have courage, have confidence in yourself and seek out new directions for your business in tomorrow’s digital world.
Looking back on their careers, people often point to a defining moment when it all began. What was this moment like for you?
Success with customers motivates me to explore and develop new areas, to constantly push against my own limits. I also draw strength from that fact that I can take teams with me on this great journey.
What can companies do to achieve greater diversity in their own organizations?
To achieve greater diversity, we need to get to a point where we can stop making such a big deal about diversity. That’s not a contradiction. If I create an open corporate culture and if diversity becomes second nature at team level without it having to be prescribed from top down, then I’ve achieved my objective. In recent years it’s been shown that the most effective way to develop global markets is to have a diverse team. Diversity provides greater latitude for creativity because one way of finding new ways of thinking and new solutions is to approach a problem from multiple angles. Demographics, if nothing else, is forcing German companies to increase the number of women in their leadership teams. Of course, as well as an open corporate culture and flexible work models, there needs to be targeted affirmative action measures.
Are schools and universities doing enough to prepare women for careers in the digital economy?
How often do we see women in the startup scene? Extremely rarely! And that shows how big the gap is, because 50 percent of university students are women – and they’re obviously not going into digital careers! Part of the reason is that in parenting, education, career training and professional life we still think along gender-specific lines. Moreover, the Internet has been part of our lives for 20 years now, yet we still lack an integrated school and university curriculum for a digital society.
Read the other interviews of the series "Four women - four careers" here .