Do women have to approach a career (in Tech) differently than men? In this interview Jörn Hendrik Ast, founder of Superherotraining, gives us several good reasons why his prognosis for a career in Tech is: the future is female!
Jörn Hendrik, taking a look at the different kind of heroes in the Superherotraining I find myself in different roles. Sometimes I’m a maker, can be a dedicated soldier for hire, sometimes it barely suffices for the role of helper and quite often I just want to be the dropout. What now?
Jörn Hendrik Ast: Absolutely. You contain multitudes, you have multiple superpowers. It is exactly like Walt Whitman once said: „Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.“ This of course can be a troublesome recovery but I find it especially soothing to know that it seems to be normal that we contradict ourselves and that it can be complicated to choose what to do next in our professional life. The question is how can we approach our different inner dialogues and and make use of our talents to get things done, to make an impact? This is exactly what I do as a Superherotrainer.
What is a fluid career?
Jörn Hendrik Ast: The approach of seeing a career as fluid like I do in my founded program the Superherotraining is powerful because the world we are living in is highly agile, complex and fluid itself. It would be simply foolish to think that a linear career is possible. Yes, there a people who have more stable careers for example as coders in large corporations and then there a freelance coders who jump from project to project. But even the more stable job descriptions are changing faster. In the example of the coder who is working in a large corporation, let me just drop the words „agile implementation“ and you will see how fluid things can get. In the writing process for our first eBook „Die fluide Karriere“ we conducted a study and one of the findings was that most of the 506 participants prefer a parttime or freelance job position. It is completely normal that we change positions, have a break from work for a sabbatical or reduce working time to parttime.
A fluid career challenges traditional structures of role. Are (German) executive floors ready for fluid superheroes?
Jörn Hendrik Ast: This is the core question for our program and as a coach for teams and leaders in startups and corporations I have to say it’s both Yes and No. Yes, because we can see a lot of changes towards fluid working models. There is a lot agitation in Accelerator programs, innovation labs and corporate coworking spaces. This is a great development and managers are embracing the new working models and thereby fluid superheroes but it is still a long way to go. Changes accelerates only as fast, as the core culture of the corporation changes and this is a very rocky road to go. It is simply not enough to built a fancy coworking space, managers will still ask: „What are you doing in that fancy new place? Are you actually working?“. It is about the constant change process of accepting how we really want to work. And I don’t think that is only important for leaders, a lot of our workshop participants are career starters and some of them have rather conservative opinions, too. And what is true for nearly everyone is that the one and only person who does not allow us to strive and reach the success we really want – is we ourselves. This is why we talk about career superheroes. We want to motivate participants of our programs to think bigger and act courageously.
You also discuss false career heroes. What skills are more of a hindrance than a help?
Jörn Hendrik Ast: Yes there are certain hindrances on our way to become a career superhero. It’s not so much that a special skill gets in our way, it’s the inner dialogues and fights that we carry out within ourselves. I also believe that there a certain qualities, so called false career heroes that are not healthy and that we should be careful with. For example extensive extra work can lead to workaholism and burnout. It’s nothing bad about a passionate project sprint that may even lead to work during the weekend but not every weekend. Workaholics have lost their healthy view on things, they believe excessive diligence is necessary. Another dangerous false career hero is the careerist. This one judges others based solely on their professional situations. The perfect example is the behavior of careerists on conferences: It’s not always the most important thing to talk to the CEO’s attending a conference and ignoring their assistants. It’s about connections from human to human. And building a network this way is actually healthier and more sustainable. But in the end the inner kryptonite, our inner dialogues are even more dangerous. In the trainings we teach different tools to gain control of the chaos inside of us. The superhero typology is a very useful compass that gives clear direction and help each participant to create powerful goals for reaching the next career level.
Does a woman have to approach a career (in Tech) differently than a man? Although everybody is talking about diversity, the gender gap (especially in Tech) is traditionally enormous and has not really closed over the last years.
Jörn Hendrik Ast: This is a very important question and I’m happy to provide insights from our study that speak a clear language: Yes, women have a different approach to their careers and therefore they need to approach a career in a still mostly male dominated area like in tech differently. Our study shows that on the average women are more creative and complex with their career decisions. Where on the average our male participants have a very clear understanding where their career is heading, our female participants have not decided clearly where to go. This shows on the correlation between the results of our superhero typology. But this is only a problem on first sight: Because in an increasingly agile working environment, the willingness to be open and the flexibility to switch job profiles and responsibilities is a very important superpower. Therefore I proudly announce: the future is female.
About Jörn Hendrik Ast
As an entrepreneur and author, Jörn Hendrik Ast is committed to the vision of making work a more empowering and human centered experience than it is today. In 2013 he founded the Superherotraining, a publishing and training company that develops tools for the workplace of the future. His superpowers are his powerful voice, volcanoe erupting with ideas, unstoppable energy.