Nicole Lontzek is the Head of Digital Marketing at stellenanzeigen.de. She is an experienced digital expert with a demonstrated history of working in the digital and IT sector internationally and the founder of eduloni.de, the learning and mentoring platform for young adults with difficult financial backgrounds. Since April 2019 she serves as a mentor on the Ludwig Maximilian University for students who want to receive career advice.
In a Nutshell: Tell us a bit about your job and what role technology plays in it?
Technology not only plays a big role in my job, but also in my everyday life, since I am passionate about new innovations and technological progress ever since. I remember, when I was a little kid, I was always keen to help my father fixing his music speakers and other projects he tied himself onto and I loved when things worked again and also when we bought the newest walkmans and other inventions. There has always been a huge fascination for progress within me and technology offers a broad field of an experimental playground.
In my role today I oversee the digital department of stellenanzeigen.de, an online job portal, which helps companies, as well as jobseekers to find the right fit for their needs. Our business model is to ensure that every company looking out for great talent has the visibility needed to attract the people they desire to reach. On the other side, Jobseekers looking for their next big step want the job-seeking process to be as easy as possible for obvious reasons. Everyone who has had job interviews in their career knows how exhausting and time consuming they can be. We want to make this part of the job world a little easier.
As Head of Digital Marketing I am responsible for the entire digital appearance and marketing of our platform. Basically, everything which has the word “digital” in it, falls under my department.
Most of these processes work completely automated and especially within the digital department we are currently on our way to fully automate the marketing components. This allows us to optimize the personalization of our ads to enhance our user experience and relevance. A big aspect behind the automation thought is, of course, to work more efficiently, but also and this is even more important, is to give our people time back which they can use to focus more on the creative part of the digital world. A lot of creativity is lost due to dull routine work during the day and valuable input can be missed here. So whenever I see the potential for efficiency and improvement with the help of technology I am keen to enable the new process as fast and as smooth as possible, because every so often this advantage can be the little difference needed to stand out from the crowd.
What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?
By far the greatest transformation – and within that – the greatest opportunity for humankind is definitely the ongoing development of artificial intelligence and everything which is accompanied with it. From Data Science, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and so on.
Just imagine, nowadays a computer program is able to paint art at least as good as a human. You are barely able to differentiate between human work and the work of a machine. This is absolutely fascinating for me, although the question about whether a computer made painting has the same value as one from your favorite artist is not answered yet and won´t be answered in the near future.
Women in the field of technology are definitely in the minority. What steps should be taken to attract more women to tech?
There is still a deeply anchored belief in society, that girls should wear pink and boys marine blue and it is the same with how we teach our children to approach science in school and technical hobbies. Although we raised awareness nowadays, that we all have biases ourselves there is still a huge gap when it comes to equal treatment in education. This is an issue we need to tackle.
Besides that, I feel that our school system in Germany needs an update anyway, where not necessarily programming languages should be thought, but at least general computer skills as a mandatory subject.
When it comes to the job world, I still see a lot of women, who “sail under their potential”. This is a common phrase, but unfortunately, it is true. A simple example is when they want to pursue a new role and browsing job ads. There is a huge lack of confidence to apply for a job where they feel that they don´t meet the requirements a hundred percent and therefore they are more likely to refrain from applying for the position than their male counterparts. Saying that, I want to encourage women to be brave and self – confident and apply for that dream job they are looking for. One of the most valuable characteristics is to know what you are capable of and what is simply too much to handle. Reflect your behavior on a regular basis and distinguish whether the constraints given are real or just made up in your head.
From my experience when I hire people I get to talk to a lot of candidates, male and female, with more or less equal skill sets and there are still many women not selling themselves for their real value.
On the employer side, there is lots of potentials when it comes to recruiting and establishing a diverse talent pool. There are already technological solutions on the market, filtering CVs after certain keywords, which allow recruiters to focus on the skill sets – hard and soft skills – rather than gender, age, and cultural background. Given that basis and changing the mindset within companies, the chances of hiring highly qualified women increase dramatically.
I am a firm believer and this is backed up by many studies now, that diverse teams work more efficiently, reduce costs in the long run and deliver better results.
What are you doing to getting more women into tech?
1. Whenever I get to talk to young women, I try to ask for their desire, understand their needs and career goals. When I see potential I try to help them to get their entry-level jobs by referring them or double-check their CVs from time to time.
2. Since this is rather time-consuming I also look out for other role models to connect them with where I feel they should talk to in order to be mentored.
3. I am also a big fan of knowledge sharing. By that, I mean every source of information, which helped me grow and improve I am more than happy to share with people interested in.
4. The other approach I am following is to explain my job in a way a five-year-old child would understand it. This way the hurdle to ask questions for others is way smaller than if you speak your day to day work language, which just has the effect to raise barriers, where you don´t want them.
5. In addition to that, there is always the opportunity to start meet-ups and small events to bring your work life closer to the outside world.
And last, but not least I try to be a role model myself by implementing all the advice I give to other women myself. This doesn´t work every day, but every day a little better.
What skills do you need for a career in tech (aside from the actual tech skills)?
Well, I can´t speak in general, but I can say what helped me during my path. The people who know me well, know that I can be really stubborn at times. This is often rather annoying for the people who are close to me since I am giving them a hard time, but in the business world, it helped me a lot getting what I want and go after your goals. By no means just never ever give up!
Other skills, which currently experience a real hype are to find on the soft skills side and include empathy, being sociable and a problem-solving team player. I know, basically, everyone would call him or herself a team player in a job application, but I can´t stress that out enough since it is getting more and more important to be able to grow together. Especially in an ever-changing work environment, this skill is invaluable, which brings me to my last skill I want to highlight.
Being able to adapt to change. The digital world with all its technological progress develops at a rapid pace and being able to learn quickly and realize opportunities can help you and your business grow massively.
Who are your tech influencers and why?
The first name which comes up in my mind is the worldwide known expert for artificial intelligence Kai Fu Lee. He is the former president of Google China. He is one of the early researcher in machine learning and pattern recognition and paved away for the current technological standards. Besides this, his knowledge about the global developments in the AI field is impressive and worth listening to, if you are eager to learn more about it.
Closely followed by the next name, which is Anastassia Lauterbach. I got the chance to meet her once in person and was impressed by her sovereign, yet modest occur. She is also a well-known expert in the field of AI and cybersecurity, holds various board mandates and is just a really nice person to talk to.
What has been the greatest piece of advice you have received in your career so far?
You get what you have the courage to ask for. Stand up for your needs and articulate them precisely. No one else will do this for you. So you better take care of your goals and interests yourself.
If you could host a dinner party with 3 influential people in tech, who would you invite and why?
When I would get the chance to host a dinner party with the following people:
To start the discussion with it would be a pleasure for me to have Bill McDermott sitting with us. With his strong international background and his innovative ideas, he would be a great discussion partner. The fact, that he is the CEO of one of the most successful German companies, SAP, and leading this company with drive and momentum just speaks for itself.
Miriam Meckel, a fantastic journalist with an impressive track record and a great understanding of technological trends, who is a master in asking the right questions to nourish a flowing discussion. She is one of a kind source of inspiration for me.
To complete the table I would kindly invite Sabine Bendiek. As Managing Director of Microsoft Germany, she brings an immense knowledge to the table and a valuable view due to her German perspective within an international company.
These different views and career paths combined would create a lively discussion and I bet an unforgettable evening.
Nicole Lontzek is the Head of Digital Marketing at stellenanzeigen.de. She is an experienced digital expert with a demonstrated history of working in the digital and IT sector. With international work experience she gained a solid background of the industry and you´ll find her speaking to her expert knowledge and ideas on international stages. She is also the founder of a learning – mentoring platform for young adults with difficult financial backgrounds – eduloni.de. Since April 2019 she serves as a mentor on the Ludwig Maximilian University for students who want to receive career advice.