Interviewed by Svenja Goebel, Community Manager Berlin at Yelp.
What is your background & how did you end up in tech?
I have extreme wanderlust and love exploring new cultures. When I was 19, I moved to California to study international business. I did it completely on own, not part of Erasmus or an exchange program, so there where definitely some rough patches along the way. Since studying in the US is also quite expensive, I spent my summers working at festivals in Germany and working at university during school semesters. Living and studying in San Francisco, I realized how much I enjoy diverse and international environments, which sparked my interest in working at a startup. After graduation, I moved to Spain for some months and then headed to London for a MA in urban tourism. I knew that I wanted to work for a company that is doing cool new things in the travel sphere, and all that is currently happening in the startup world, which is what led me to Berlin. Before joining Waymate I worked at a PR Agency for a bit, but I always new that the agency world is not my sort of thing.
What is Waymate?
Waymate is a travel & transport navigator that simplifies travel planing. With Waymate you can compare and book multiple transport modes for long as well as short distances. Right now, you can book Deutsche Bahn rail tickets in less than 90 seconds. After our relaunch on April 22nd, you can compare and book tickets for air and overland travel. We will also be releasing an iOS app for transit navigation on that day, where you can compare public transit, carsharing, and taxi services in one go in cities across Germany. The scale of what we are doing is very much unchartered territory, and I am super excited to see how everything will evolve. What I do know is that Waymate will change the travel experience for the better.
Out of all the cities you have lived in (San Francisco/London/Berlin), in which one do you see the biggest potential?
Wow this is a difficult question, all these cities are in completely different stages. I am a huge San Francisco fan and loved living there. The city is super compact, but has so much to offer and is home to a bunch of interesting companies and people. London, I would say, is in between San Francisco and Berlin in regards to the mindset as well as the ecosystem. Berlin is still at the beginning in regards to many things. We all know that Berlin has massive potential, but is also facing challenges. It will be interesting to see what politicians, companies, employees, and investors will do in the next couple of years, and also, which role i.e. universities will take on.
Where to you draw inspiration from for PR & Community Management?
When it comes to inspiration, I have a bit of a crazy mindset. I always tend to get more inspiration from random things and from smaller communities, rather than the classical ones that you often hear about. When it comes to loyalty, I really admire Wacken Festival. They were able to establish a very loyal community that harbors a huge level of trust. Every year thousands of people spend a lot of money on Wacken tickets without knowing the actual lineup at all, simply on the basis that they trust the organizers to pick great bands. I also like Astra Bier’s Facebook page. I know it sounds a bit bizarre, but everything they do resonates their community 100% and you can see it in the interaction. For overall engagement and brand communication, I really like Virgin America and also Inspired by Iceland. They both are very creative and daring enough to try new things out. When it comes to PR, I would like to spend a day with Ryan Holiday. He is controversial and provocative, but I generally like it when people bend the rules and push boundaries. His style of communication, obviously doesn’t work for every company, but I think his unconventional manner and execution are creative and would give me lots of ideas.
What is your #1 advice for anyone who wants to work in PR/Community Management?
Hustle! Setting up a network is really important, and to execute that you have to hustle. In Germany, we tend to analyze things from the “Why should we do it” viewpoint, I believe that the “Why shouldn’t we do it” question is more applicable. Unless I can find good reasons of why I should not be doing something, I do it. This especially applies to events and community management; you never know who happens to be in the crowd. So work the masses and network like crazy!
When did you first hear about the Berlin Geekettes?
When I first heard about the Berlin Geekettes I had just been in Berlin for a couple of months. A lot of women underestimate themselves and overanalyze rather than just going out and giving things a try, as their male counterparts do. The Berlin Geekettes are a great network for women in tech to overcome these boundaries; you meet women who are supportive, give advice, and also animate women to give new things a try – it is a network of opportunity. Many women pressure themselves too much and are too afraid of failure or not performing well, but life is about trial and error – or at least that is what I believe. We need to push ourselves to try out new things and use our skills, rather than questioning whether we are good enough. I just took part in the Geekettes community manager panel, something I have never done before. But I knew that if I gave this a shot, a Geekettes event would the perfect setting. People are supportive, so there is less pressure, and you can experiment and discover new strengths. I am sure that many others have been in similar situations, be it interviews for magazines, appearances, or discussions.
If you were not working for Waymate, what would you be doing?
I’m really into music and traveling, so best would be something that combines both. It would be a job where I can challenge myself and learn something new every day, and a little bit of traveling should be in the mix too. I think organizing festivals, concerts, tours would be something right up my alley. Or something completely on the other side of the spectrum like being a criminal profiler. I have always been interested in psychology, sociology, behavioral analysis, and the human mind in general.