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Elisabeth Hocke

Principal Agile Tester at FlixBus

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What kind of work did you dream to do at high school? Were you thinking back then, that you would work in IT?

At some point I considered teaching art. In general, however, I was really unsure what kind of work I would find later on. Turns out work found me instead! I always loved computers and technology, but never thought I could work in software development myself.

How did you get into the world of technologies? Did you study IT or did life bring you there?

A bit of both. Following a counselor’s suggestion, I ended up with computer science as one of my minor subjects. However, this is not to be overrated and I still never thought this would come in handy for me later on. When it came to selecting a topic for my master thesis, I took a leap and asked my professor whether I could write about one of my hobbies, computer games. To my surprise, he accepted! This encouraged me to attempt applying at video game companies right after university. Lucky me, I indeed got hired by a small startup developing an AI middleware for game developers. This was my first job in tech where I also quickly fell into testing and found my passion.

Did your family and friends support your decision to join the tech world?

Yes! There was not a single reason why they shouldn’t. However, they were concerned about me joining that small startup which was considered a financially risky move. The company did not make it in the end indeed; still, I learned a lot there.

Please tell us a little more about your work. (something cool for girls and young women considering working in IT). Why do you love it?

I absolutely love that I’m learning every day, it never gets boring. I really enjoy being able to contribute with my personal experience and skillset and at the same time get opportunities to extend these every day. The other most awesome thing is the human side of tech: in the end, people develop software products for people. The teams I’ve been on worked very closely together which I really enjoy. We are not alone, collaboration is key to success.

What does your company do?

So far, our brand FlixBus is best known. The mission of all FlixMobility companies together is to provide green and smart mobility for everyone to experience the world. We offer long distance buses, charter buses, and lately also trains. The complete business is running on tech providing in-house custom-tailored solutions.

What do you like about working in IT?

Working in IT is not everywhere the same. When it comes to my personal experience in agile environments, I enjoyed especially the following: flat hierarchies, encouraged autonomy, freedom to try things out and adapt to the results, focus on continuous improvement, close collaboration with the people, that I know what I did every day as I see a product evolve, that we never stand still so it never gets boring, that I don’t have to dress up but can come as I am. I can be myself and bring my whole self.

What are the advantages from your point of view?

To add to the things I already wrote above: job security. So many things are based on tech nowadays. It will only get more not less, so there’s a high demand for good tech people.

What is the ratio of men vs women at your team? Would you change it?

Two women and six men. I would love to increase our diversity further. Gender is not binary, and there are a lot more diversity factors we could benefit from.

Have you ever experienced any prejudice towards you?

Over the last years I realized more and more how privileged I truly am. Still, the answer to the question is yes – but lucky me, mostly rather “positive” prejudice. Like the surprise of men when I knew more than they assumed. Sometimes, however, I faced the situation when men considered me to be “non-technical” just by looking at me, without even having talked with me before, let alone worked with me. Or when asking for support, they tried to explain things I already knew in a condescending way and missed the point where the help was actually needed.

Would you want more women in IT? Why

Yes, to increase diversity. So this is not only about increasing the number of women, but in general increasing diversity. We all benefit from diverse working environments. Our products benefit from diverse perspectives, enabling us to design better solutions. Together, companies benefit from a diverse workforce. And it’s up to them, meaning up to all of us working there, to establish a safe, welcoming, inclusive working environment where diverse people like to stay and can thrive.

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