Cheyenne Goeminne, gebürtige Belgierin, wollte nach ihrem Studium nicht einfach einen Job, sondern eine Aufgabe, die ihren Horizont erweitern würde. Über ihr berufliches Netzwerk wurde sie auf Covestro aufmerksam und stellte fest, dass die IT weit mehr bietet als Positionen für Programmierer. auf hitech-campus.de berichtet sie über ihren persönlichen Werdegang und ihre beruflichen Herausforderungen.
My name is Cheyenne Goeminne and I am working as a data analyst in the IT solutions department of Covestro. The company manufactures high-tech polymers and is currently transforming into a fully digitalized employer. Before I joined Covestro, I studied electronic engineering in Belgium, where the university system is slightly different compared to Germany. For example, I took the same chemistry classes as chemical engineers. So my education was rather interdisciplinary from day 1.
After my masters however, the only jobs offered to me were positions in electronic engineering. For me, that was not what I had envisioned for myself. The thing is, when I started my final master year, I did an internship, during which I realized that what they teach at university is only a fraction of what really happens on the market. So I was surprised about how little I knew about my future work. Also, I wanted to broaden my vision, so I went out of my comfort zone and started networking. At a workshop for young entrepreneurs I met the organizer of the event as well as a speaker, who both ended up being my mentors. They gave me very precious advice and also introduced me to Laurie Miller, the CIO at Covestro, whom they both know well.
At first I was a bit weary, because working IT was not what I had envisioned for myself either. What I did not yet know was, that there is a difference between working IT like a programmer and working with IT as a tool. Of course once I realized Laurie Miller was indeed the CIO, I became nervous, especially after she invited me to come to Leverkusen to see how Covestro works. It was there that I realized that my job would focus on the digitalization and not just mere programming. Basically, the business side asks me how I can improve a certain process using IT as a tool.
As a woman in tech industries you have to be the change!
That is the reason why I would like to advice every young student to step out of their comfort zone and look for experiences in other fields than what they originally studied at university. Being open minded about other departments in your company is very important, because once you figured out how it all works together, your own work will improve massively. One of my mentors even suggested that I find out, what my biggest weakness was and go work in that area for a year or two. Just to gain knowledge, eliminate the weakness and maybe even find out, that my opinion might have been wrong. Of course, that can be difficult in the beginning, because there will be so much to learn, but I personally found it to be extremely enriching.
To succeed in my new job, there were two things I had to do: First of all get better at programming. Not to actually work as a programmer, but to use it as a tool and know what I am working with. Second, I needed to fully understand how the infrastructure at Covestro works. I have been here for three months now and sometimes I still have to figure out, how and which processes are running on the business side. This company really offers the best environment to do so – all my co-workers are very reassuring. They told me that it was perfectly normal to not know everything right away and that it takes time to get the hang of it all. My responsibility in this is to be open about it and not hold back when I have questions. As a result, I do not need a specific mentor at work, as everyone is available for questions and kind of taking over the role of a mentor for the rest of the team.
Since digitalization is a huge topic for any company, Covestro is currently looking for more future colleagues for my team and other IT departments. These positions offer a chance for more graduates to join a rather young company. Many of my co-workers refer to our culture as a start-up feeling, because we can influence the way things are done in a significant manner. When a new task arises, we have the opportunity to take over the role of pioneers and work it out together. That makes our work fun, challenging and rewarding.
As a woman at Covestro I never had any difficulties or the feeling of having to prove myself – but I do want to show everyone, that despite being a recent graduate, I can contribute to our tasks and solve problems and challenges with my teammates. At university, it was a little bit different. There was for example a class I enrolled in with a friend of mine and when we visited it for the first time, all the other students were male, same as the professor. He turned to us and when we talked it became clear, that he did not expect us to be part of his class, because we were girls. Now that was an honest mistake, because he was simply not used to girls in his class, I think we might have been the very first ones. Why am I telling this story? The fact that this was an honest mistake is something important women have to consider. IT has been male dominated for a long time and your male co-workers may simply to not be used to more women joining it. My professor for instance ended up being one of my best mentors. But also, you have to step up.
Give people a chance to get to know you – and socialize!
If someone misbehaves, you have to call them out. Do not be afraid of the image of “the complaining girl”. As a woman in the tech industry it is basically your task to open it towards a positive change. Make it plain and simply very much normal for all the guys to have female colleagues. You are the change.
Part of this change is in fact a career advice I would like to give. Socialize! That does not only mean to identify important people or peer groups and talk to them, but to give people a chance to get to know each other. This also ensures a good atmosphere in your working environment as a whole, not just your own team. First impressions can be wrong. Just as wrong as some of the prejudices about the corporate culture within bigger companies. People probably told you that employees are just a number there, that no one will care about you or you will never be able to grow. Here at Covestro, that is absolutely not true. Within our team, there is no competition, we are working as a unit. Our CIO has the clear vision of our new department as a family, where no one is alone and everyone is supporting each other.
That was also one of the reasons why I managed to take over three projects simultaneously. They all have different priorities, still – in the beginning it was a bit overwhelming, but I was given enough time to get to know them well enough to start working on them. The latest challenge was the GDPR, or DSGVO as it is called in Germany. The penalties for noncompliance are severe and all the necessary changes meant a big effort for my work as a data analyst. IP addresses are now a huge no go and locations will be much less accurate. It is going to be tricky to identify target groups and their behavior online, but also more challenging, which is a good thing. To be up for the tasks, we are consulting with a specialist and working with tools that are useful but also compliant.
All in all Covestro gives me the opportunity to grow and develop in many areas. This company wants you to do what you like, because it sees the benefit of motivated employees. I feel like everyone is very family oriented, whether it be in their private or professional life. If you want to be part of this, please go to covestro.de/de/career/overview and check out the open positions.