Europe, Interviews

Anja Hendel – Director of Porsche Digital Lab

I instantly think that there are still far too few women in this field. Luckily, 50 percent of our team in Berlin is female – but even the simple fact that this feels like an achievement, shows how far we are from gender balance or a more diverse tech sphere. 50 percent should simply not be an outstanding exception but normal.

Anja Hendel is Director of Porsche Digital Lab where they work with Deep Tech, exploring their potential by developing concepts, prototypes, Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and innovative business models. She is into Innovation & DigitalTransformation, and definitely ready for #NextLevelGermanEngineering. Read how her company got to have 50 percent of female employees and why it’s important to understand tech to shape the future for a better. 

In a Nutshell: Tell us a bit about your job and what role technology plays in it?

I’m the Director of the Porsche Digital Lab in Berlin and Director Innovation and Digital Transformation Finance at Porsche. We work with Deep Tech, e.g. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and Internet of Things – exploring their potential by developing concepts, prototypes, Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and innovative business models. It is our mission to inspire Porsche how these technologies can improve our daily work.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

I studied a combination of economics and computer science and worked for a Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) startup as a software developer for two years. As I wanted to see the world and get to know other companies, I started working for a consultancy in a global tech role. After several years, I strived for more responsibility for the software rolled out instead of leaving the companies after a successful development and implementation project. That’s why I took a job at a pharmaceutical wholesaler. Six years later, I fell in love with a very interesting occupation at Porsche’s IT portfolio and strategy area. There, my focus was mainly on the digital transformation strategy of Porsche as a global organization. With my current role, I finally came back to my roots – software development with my great, diverse colleagues at Porsche Digital Lab.        

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

I instantly think that there are still far too few women in this field. Luckily, 50 percent of our team in Berlin is female – but even the simple fact that this feels like an achievement, shows how far we are from gender balance or a more diverse tech sphere. 50 percent should simply not be an outstanding exception but normal. To achieve this, we need to change our mindset – at the Porsche Digital Lab, we live a very open and flexible culture that embraces differences and focusses on what we can achieve together. Networking and visibility play an important role as well: All those great females out there need to speak up and share their expertise and experience with the world – to encourage other women to follow this path. I’d like to encourage all my colleagues to do exactly that.

What skills do you need for a career in tech (aside from the actual tech skills)?

In my opinion, curiosity is one of the most important skills – today and tomorrow. We all very curious when we were kids, but many of us lose it along the way. In my opinion, we should preserve this childlike view of the world that makes us find an interesting aspect in even the most boring topics, that lets us question everything and that wants to know what makes the world go around. A curious mind is eager to learn and will constantly grow – that is the basic skill to excel in most areas and the best mindset to cope with the constant change of our rapidly moving, digitized world.

What and who were the influencers of who you are today??

It is hard to name one specific person that influenced me, but as I am really into music and art, many artists had an impact on me, especially when I was younger. Today, it is more about the people I am surrounded by and, of course, our team at the Porsche Digital Lab. This beautifully crazy crowd of people with diverse backgrounds and minds of their own teach me to see things from different perspectives. This is really inspiring and helps me to grow both professionally and personally.

If you could be the CEO of any tech-startup in the world, which would you choose?

I would probably go with AppCamps – but I don’t want to replace Diana Knodel, of course. I’d rather love to work with her on inspiring and educating Kids in the tech area. To encourage more women to choose a career in MINT jobs, we need to start early – if we’re able to enthuse young girls, they will see for themselves that tech is not a question of gender. This is very important not only because of skills shortages, but because we can only create comprehensive answers to the major questions of our time when we combine different angles, backgrounds and experiences. Teaching and skilling kids – no matter if boy or girl – is the basis for a prosperous future.

Can you describe yourself in a hashtag? And why would you choose that specific hashtag?

This should be #TechForGood – I love technology and truly believe that you need to understand tech to shape the future for a better. 

If you were to host a dinner party and could invite 3 tech influencers – who would you invite and why?

First of all Amy Web – she is author, CEO of the Future Today Institute and professor at Stern School of Business at New Work University. But most of all she is simply impressive, and I’d love to discuss tech trends and risks with the. Secondly, I’d like to invite Caterina Fake, an American serial entrepreneur, who has co-founded Flickr, and was chairwoman of Etsy. With her, I’d like to elaborate if those tech trends should exist. Last but not least, I’d really love to have Elon Musk at my dinner party – to make those trends and ideas become reality.

Anja Hendel is Director of Porsche Digital Lab where they work with Deep Tech, exploring their potential by developing concepts, prototypes, Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and innovative business models. She is into Innovation & DigitalTransformation, and definitely ready for #NextLevelGermanEngineering. Read how her company got to have 50 percent of female employees and why it’s important to understand tech to shape the future for a better. 

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