Text and photo: Maria Scharin
Susanne works as a hardware engineer and tech lead at Axis. Her role includes synchronizing between disciplines, supporting and helping new colleagues, synchronizing between hardware and software, mechanics and construction, finding solutions to problems and generally making sure nothing falls through the cracks.
She mainly works with two projects: heat cameras and cameras used in environments with a risk of explosion. It is not that the cameras themselves must withstand an explosion, but to ensure that the electronics in the cameras don’t cause an explosion in, for example, an oil rig or a factory that handles flour.
While Susanne’s main tasks don’t contain that much programming, she does point out that much of programming can be done more efficiently if you understand how the hardware works.
– What you measure or observe happens in the real world, which is analogous. That then has to be translated and interpreted digitally.
The importance of encouraging teachers
But it was the programming that attracted Susanne to what was to become her professional career. A teacher at Senior High who was passionate about technology (not only programming) sparked her interest. What was unique was their passion about not letting go until everybody had understood.
– He let it take time. If somebody had a problem, he wouldn’t leave it until he had managed to explain it to them.
The teacher arranged so that the class could travel to the CeBIT trade fair (a large electronics and IT fair in Germany). The fair gave Susanne new insights into technology. It was exciting to see all the possibilities, all the new things that could be achieved through electronics and IT.
The key to creating an inclusive workplace
As a woman in tech, Susanne has experienced being patronized. At Axis, however, she has never been treated differently because of her gender. It’s in the walls, in the culture itself that you are kind and inclusive towards each other. She says that the leaders emphasize the importance of helping each other, being open minded and building community.
– Both managers and colleagues want you to feel good, whether you are outgoing or you prefer to bury yourself in technical stuff.
Susanne enjoys being able to collaborate with colleagues, regardless of whether it was planned or not.
– If I have spent half a day on helping somebody, that may cause me to fall behind with my own work. But then my manager emphasizes that I have helped Axis progress, and that’s what’s important.
Susanne reflects on the hiring process, and that it sometimes takes time. It is important that you hire people that agree with the company values.
– Of course skills are important, but if you don’t have the right attitude your skills won’t get you the job.
Axis has a Q network that is for women but not exclusively for women. They organize events like brown bag lunches with lectures on personal development, communication and technology.
– It is great that the company allocates resources to this, as it gives you opportunities to network outside of your own department and create personal connections.
A difference between men and women that Susanne has noticed is that men have a tendency to shout louder if something is not working.
– Women often withdraw and try to resolve the problems themselves instead of protesting, and can therefore feel neglected. This is something that the leadership in a male-dominated company could keep an eye out for.