Sybille on agile working and the power of role models
Sybille Pape has been working as a Software Development Engineer at SMA since 2008. But her current role at the company goes far beyond developing software. She assists teams with agile working and is bringing forward the discussion on self-organization and transformation. She talks to us in the interview about her development at SMA and what advice she gives to young women just starting out in their careers.
What course has your career at SMA taken so far?
I started working at SMA in 2008. My current job description is software developer specializing in control engineering and inverter system management. Up until around a year ago, this was also exactly what my job focused on. But I’m now involved in other roles. In software development we work with agile teams, and I spent a year supporting this work as a scrum master. A scrum master is responsible for the effectiveness of the agile teams. I’ve only just recently become a product owner and am no longer working as a scrum master. The product owner is responsible for maximizing the value that the product delivers. But interaction between the teams and the organization is vital as well.
Last year, I was also given the opportunity to take part in the loop fellow training and supported our first team with the loop approach in self-organization. Transformation and change are right up my street. I’m currently most interested in the aspects of team and organizational development and strategy work.
“I’m someone who always wants to get involved, and I’ve never been held back at SMA.”
Sybille, Software Development Engineer
Where did you get the desire to take on additional roles at the company?
The constant networking with other colleagues, first as an internal contact for the work environment and then as a loop fellow, gave me more of an insight into the company. This brought me into contact with people who tick in the same way I do and want to promote a different way of working together at SMA that involves a greater degree of self-organization.
I just like to solve problems. Maths was always my absolute favorite subject. Solving logical tasks and now developing the capacity to establish links at an interpersonal level between organizations and employees are what give me motivation every day.
Why did you decide to work at SMA?
Supplying the world with cleaner green energy is an aspiration that I share in every way. Taking sustainable action for the environment and employees is a matter that is close to my heart.
SMA’s corporate values like team spirit and performance coincide with my values as well. I’m someone who always wants to get involved, and I’ve never been held back at SMA. It was always just a case of finding the right contact to sound out my idea. I always think back to a quote from our CEO Jürgen Reinert, something he said last year at an internal innovation event: “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” That’s precisely what I did throughout the whole of last year.
What makes the culture at SMA so special?
SMA lives by a culture of openness: When someone asks for help, everyone is there to help and there are open doors all around. The company also places a significant amount of trust in its employees. I feel that SMA gives me great support and I feel very seen and heard. I’ve benefited tremendously from the flexibility that SMA gives people. I’ve always been able to choose how much I work, when I work and now where I work as well – no one tries to dictate to me, I have maximum flexibility in how I organize my working hours. That alone is an unbelievable added benefit.
What message would you like to give young women who are just starting out in their professional careers?
Challenge social constraints. Unfortunately it’s still the case that we’re told to live a certain way even by our female friends, relatives or mothers: As a mother, you should stay at home initially and look after your child and when you go back to work you should still do the childcare on top. We women should give our partners more of the responsibility.
Every young woman should also take time to focus on herself and work out where her own strengths lie. What gives me strength and where is the area in which I can be most effective? It helps to talk to other people who are interested in similar things. I’ve used learning circles and methods like Working Out Loud to talk about my concerns and challenges in a group setting. Other people have similar problems but deal with some of them in a different way. Everyone can learn something from that.
Role models are also important. This is an area I myself neglected for quite some time. I thought there were no female executives in such a male-dominated industry and so there couldn’t be any role models. That’s nonsense! Through networking and digitalization, every woman can find role models in totally different areas. There are female executives who set up and actively run networks for young women.
Every woman should play to her own strengths and seek out the support she needs. When an idea isn’t well-received, it doesn’t necessarily mean the idea is bad. It could also be that the environment isn’t right.
Thanks for the interview, Sybille.
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