Advice to Women in Tech: 'Put a Support Network in Place'

October 24, 2019 | Selina Bans, HelloFresh

Selina Bans from HelloFresh joins us before her session at European Women in Technology to discuss her role as Associate Director of Program Management and her role as a woman in tech.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself

A: I have worked in the tech industry for more than 10 years now. Currently I'm Associate Director of Program Management at the wonderful HelloFresh in Berlin. I am a bit of an efficiency geek and I devour productivity books.  Im also huge champion of supporting diversity in the workplace, particularly on the topics of women and neurodiversity. When I’m not working and feeding my mind. Im usually leaping around in a HIIT class, spinning class, lifting weights or doing yoga to feed my body. I'm very active!

What’s a typical day at work like for you?

A: Usually a blend of one-to-one meetings with my colleagues, team meetings and alone time. Some of one on one meetings and team meetings are there to move company initiatives forward or trouble shoot problems we encounter along the way. The rest are for coaching my direct reports or more junior colleagues in similar roles. The alone is time is to make sure I have taken care of any actions I have committed to and that I am dedicating enough time to the planning of any projects I'm working on and anticipating anything that might go wrong. My work can be strategic or tactical depending on the problems that need to be solved that day but I try to ensure that I strike a good balance between the two.

What excites you most about working in the tech industry?

A: There are so many fascinating problems to solve! I believe that we are living through very interesting times right now. The first era I worked through was a time where individuals and organisations were adopting technology faster than ever to make their lives easier and people were sharing everything. Now, people are a bit more discerning and privacy breaches are forcing individuals and governments to think more carefully about how information is shared. We still want our lives to be easier but we want more control over our personal information. I think technology will evolve to tackle some of these bigger problems next. 

What is the best part about working for HelloFresh?

A: I enjoy the fact that I am part of of a small enough team to feel a sense of family and a large, forward thinking enough company to have impact on a lot of customers. No day is the same and I am never bored.

Why have you decided to get involved with European Women in Tech?

A: I went last year and I was utterly inspired by the people and the energy. I took so much positive energy away from it as well as genuinely useful tips and ideas that I have been able to apply over the past year. Every woman in tech (or even not in tech!) should come to this conference.

european women in technology conference event in amsterdam europe

What will you be speaking about at the conference and why have you chosen this topic?

A: I began working a 4 day week in February 2019. Since I did this, so many people have been curious about the story behind it so I thought I better talk about it!

I will be speaking about my motivations and being honest about my anxieties in relation to this topic, as well as the process of getting this agreed in my workplace. Since I am also a productivity geek, I will be giving the audience some tips on how they can be more productive with their time and what questions they should ask themselves if they want to implement a 4 day work week. I will also talk about the importance of paying attention to what I call “self care”, looking after yourself so that you can give your best at work and to the people around you.

What advice would you give to women who work in the tech industry?

A: Put a support network in place for yourself. This industry moves fast and work can be tough when you are the only woman in the room. Make sure you have mentors at different stages of your career and think carefully about creative ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone. For example, one of the best things I ever did was get a male mentor who was nothing like me but had a few traits that I envied. The relationship was awkward at first, but in the end he introduced me to so many ways of approaching problems in the workplace that I would never have come to on my own, which helped me grow a lot and develop my own style of management.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever had was: “Play to your strengths, don’t try to be good at things that aren’t natural for you. It will cost you more energy than its worth.”

Who is your female tech inspiration and why?

A: I can’t pick one name but I would point to the handful of of the women I met when I was junior and learning the ropes in technology at the BBC. This was because they embodied so many different styles of management between them and they always stayed true to what they believed in. Managing with empathy was the strongest theme amongst these women. This is something I have always taken with me into every role I have had since.

How will HelloFresh’s recent expansion to Sweden affect the day-to-day operations of the company?

A: Right now, since our initial volume is small compared to the rest of Europe, the impact is not significant. This is our first foray into the nordics so we are very excited to learn more about the customer profile in Sweden compared to other countries. The swedes also have a great track record when it comes to sustainability compared to the rest of Europe. (Fun fact - Did you know that they are so good at recycling that they actually import waste?) We hope to learn a lot from launching in this market.


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