My morning routine is a bit harsh!
At least four times a week I wake up at 5am and go to the gym. Although I’m not one of these people who can do that after a late night. I sleep early and wake early because that gives me the right balance between work and personal life. It means that I can get in my exercise before waking up my 10-year-old daughter and spending time with her over breakfast before I start my work day.
I use my commute for self-improvement
Once a week I work from my home office, filled with books and my daughter’s paintings (she’s an artist and has a very large production!). The rest of the week I’m based in Bonn, which is about 100km and a two-hour train ride each way. I choose the train because it’s less tiring, creates fewer Co2 emissions, and it gives me a lot of time each day for personal development. At the moment, I’m reading about API strategy, but it could be programming languages or something to do with The Cloud. I like to do a really deep dive into new technology. I don’t really need to be so technical at my level, but I want to understand the detail.
I measure the success of my day by a Japanese philosophy
I typically arrive at the office by 8.30am and the day begins. I might be hearing about a new technology and making a strategic decision about it, or attending a board meeting. Or I might be trying to solve a particular problem. At the moment, I’m looking at the use of digital tools that can help bring together our people around the world – in Brazil, Russia, Germany and the rest of Europe – so that they all feel part of one team. Another big part of my role is analysing the results of a project to see what we’ve achieved. The way we measure success here is based on the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen. It means ‘constant, continuous improvement’; so even if we’ve achieved a specific goal, our customers are happy and we’re grateful for our results, we still want to know how we could have done better.
I have to practice being a servant at work
My team consists of around 1,500 people. It feels like quite a responsibility but it’s also the most interesting thing about my job. At Deutsche Telekom, like digital natives Apple, Google and Amazon, we’ve adopted this idea of ‘servant leadership’, which is the opposite of the typical command and control leader who’ll give you their idea of what should be done, and then tell you if you’ve done it well or badly. Our way is more ‘Knights of the Round Table’, supporting the team through coaching and mentoring to arrive at a consensus. It takes time and effort to get this right, and for a woman with an opinion on absolutely everything in life, I do have to check myself regularly! But the rewards are great; teams adjust quicker, are better motivated and definitely have more fun.
I use the two-minute rule to organise my time
I love the central idea in a book called Getting Things Done by David Allen, which is all about ‘out of sight, out of mind’. For me it works like this: every day I write down a list of everything I need to do. Then I decide what I can delegate. Then I spend about an hour doing all the things on the list that take less than two minutes; then schedule a specific time in my calendar for all those things that will take more than two minutes. Once those things are no longer taking up space in my head, I feel calmer and can get on with doing it.
I’m trying to connect with as many women as possible
At lunchtime, I try to get together with some colleagues and go to the canteen as a group. I prefer to eat for 30 minutes and then go outside for a walking discussion. After that I’ll do coaching sessions with my reports. I also have a number of mentee positions exclusively for women – women who want to advance but aren’t sure of the next step; or mothers who want to come back and need help balancing work with family. I also coach younger girls about programming and my other expertise, which is artificial intelligence. As a senior woman in this field, you can spend most of your career as the only woman in the room. So attending the 2019 FDM everywoman in Tech Awards as a finalist was magnificent from the perspective of the pure energy of women coming together in one place.
The journey home is for catching up with friends and family
Occasionally I have to work late and end up staying overnight in Bonn, but all being well I leave the office at 6pm and use the train ride home to connect with friends and arrange social time.
Evenings are for relaxing... and breathing!
By the time I get home everybody has eaten dinner. I spend some time with my daughter. I try not to beat myself up but I think every single working mother on the planet has this feeling that she’s not doing enough. That’s not going to change for me, even if I stayed home all day. After putting my daughter to bed, I love to read or listen to a bit of music and sometimes I try to meditate. I say ‘sometimes’ because I think if you read or listen to music you don’t always need meditation. But sometimes my heart is racing and I’ve done too much. I’ve found a nice application called 7Mind. It’s actually paid for by the German healthcare system and it has nice relaxing music and voices which calm things down when I’m too absorbed in work.