Women of Digital Workforce - Our stories

At first thought, women working in the robotics industry seem like a rare breed. In fact, the number of women working in robotics, and in technology industry in general, is constantly rising. Yet, we rarely hear about them. A group of Digital Workforce’s women got together to share their stories. What did we learn?

Taking part in the discussion:

Sanna Alikoski – Solutions Consultant     

(from left)

Sanna Alikoski – Solutions Consultant​

Sanna Enckelman – CFO​

Annika Saariluoma – Training assistant​

Kristiina Kääriäinen – Solutions Consultant​

Juuli Kuusivuori – Solutions Consultant​

Annukka Jänkälä – Solutions Consultant​​

Diversity is strength

Kristiina:” I’m actually a geologist. Don’t think there are others here with that background, but somehow, I fit in just fine. During my studies, I became interested in data processing and I wrote my thesis on effective processing of large data-sets. Back then I applied it to geology, but those skills come handy in setting up RPA for our clients too.”

Annika: “I’m still studying - pedagogy. When I first got a tip from a friend to apply, I thought they couldn’t be serious. I mean, what does a teacher do at a robotics company? Turns out a lot. My strengths, that come handy with our Academy program, are my ability to manage multiple things and use my training, to help improve our courses.”

Annukka: “I heard about Digital Workforce from Kristiina, who I knew from high school. Since high school I had studied information networks. I quite enjoy coding but I didn’t want to be a programmer. Here all my days are different; some days I’m coding, others I’m meeting with customers.”

Sanna E.:” I’ve had a long corporate career and studied economics. In comparison to the corporate world, the communication barriers are much lower in a company of our size. Here we can make good use of the diverse knowledge through flexible communication. Before, I had to book 15 minute meetings two weeks in advance. Here I can just – well – talk to the people around me.”  

Juuli:  “Often in big corporations we see these clubs of people who only interact between themselves. People may not have much understanding of what people in another department do. Here we know how to solve each other’s problems or work together to come up with a solution.”

Annika: “So many of us come from totally different backgrounds – as demonstrated here. I believe it’s a strength. The backbone of our business may be understanding the technology but there are so many other things that come together to make us a success.”

We often surprise ourselves

Juuli: “My background is in economics – managing business processes and communicating with customers are my strengths – but I have no previous experience in software development. While writing my thesis, I recognized that RPA tackled many of the challenges of traditional IT development. Working in the robotic industry wasn’t my original plan, but by the time that I applied I knew where I was heading. It’s all about having a desire to keep developing yourself as you go. And hey, since today I’m officially certified to do RPA related coding too!”

Sanna A.: “When I joined Digital Workforce I was about to finish school – I was studying industrial engineering and management. I had already applied for a different company, but they had said to come back after summer. Soon after, I saw Digital Workforce’s ad online and the more I read the more excited I got. My job here has some similarities to what I expected to do after graduating but it’s also completely different. I spend most of my time at my client’s office and communicate directly with them to manage their projects.” 

Sanna E.: “The world of start-ups is totally new to me – I’ve been part of the DWF crew for two weeks now. I’m used to managing large financial departments, so I know how to see the big picture, prioritize and understand how operations come together. Before I started, I was nervous that I might have stayed at the ivory tower for too long. But it seems like I’m sufficiently down-to-earth to navigate my new environment. Here the financial department is me, which means that I might still have to learn more about looking into the mirror as well!”

Annika: “I was in Norway finishing my exchange, when Niko – an old friend of mine working at Digital Workforce – asked me, if I was interested to apply. At the time, I was considering staying in Norway or go somewhere else abroad. Last thing on my mind was robotics, but I realized the role fit me very well. We started with a part-time contract and here I am still now.”

You can do it too

Sanna E.: “I had spoken to a friend of mine who had joined a start-up, and the excitement is quite contagious. Honestly, I was jealous listening to him. I thought, if the opportunity ever comes, that’s what I want to do. I think, if you do something that you like the success will follow. It feels like people are having a good time here and RPA is something we all believed in.” 

Sanna A.: ”Robotics, or even RPA, is a fairly new industry. There are not many who have ‘the right’ degrees or extensive experience – but good attitude and interest can take you far. Even as first job, robotics can be great. Many of us are young and the atmosphere reflects that.”  

Annukka: ” I got quite frustrated with applying for jobs. It was always the same; to hire me, I needed to have previous experience. But I couldn’t get new experience unless someone let me do something new. Here everything is still so new that other things matter more.”

Annika: “I would like people to realize that opportunities don’t close so easily. You have to be willing to learn and adapt. But for example, having a degree in one area doesn’t mean you have closed doors for everything else. Opportunities can be found in surprising places and your skills may be applicable to areas you don’t expect.”

Women can be proud 

Annika: “I’m not sure, why there are still more men than women in the industry. Maybe women don’t talk about their work as much. Many people find out about opportunities and job requirements from their friends, this is why talking about work is so important. But words like ‘robotics, automation or software development’ may sound quite intimidating, if you don’t know what they mean in practice. Maybe women need to hear more stories about what its actually like to work in the industry.” 

Sanna A.: “I’ve noticed that when I try to talk about my work, my friends say: “I can’t understand it anyway, you might as well stop. I could never do it”. I can’t understand what makes them so sure. It’s a false preconception. How could you be so sure that you ‘can’t’, when you don’t even know what you can’t? I know from experience, that in fact, they could do many of the things that superficially sound intimidating.”

Annika: “I can relate to, what Sanna A. has experienced. My own first reaction, was one of preconception: “What could I do at a robotics company? I don’t know the right things”. But once I started digging deeper I recognized that, yes, yes I do!”

Juuli: “I’ve seen it many times, how self-critical women can be. I guess we still feel we have more to prove than men. We have to have the right degrees and experience to believe we can ‘go for it’, while guys with half our skills rush to the job full of confidence. I think this is something important to communicate: Women are just as good - for example in coding – as men are, and often even better. But being imperfect is also ok!“ 

Annukka: “When I was a kid, computers weren’t really a common hobby among girls. Thankfully, in my house my interest was encouraged and I got to do what I liked. Today kids learn about coding at elementary school and technology related skills are more accessible to everyone – no matter what the gender.”

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