Catrin Hinkel, Microsoft Switzerland General Manager
Who are you in a few words?
I grew up and have lived in different countries and cultures and worked in a variety of industries and organizations where I have always enjoyed collaborating very closely with customers to drive their success through digital transformation. I am passionate about the impact that technology has on our world and lives. Competitive is another word I would use to describe myself, but more in the sporty and fun way. And I’m also the proud mother of two great sons.
What are the ingredients of your success?
I have always wanted to get better at things everyday. Nobody is perfect, but everyone can improve. I rode in tournaments, swam in competitions – clearly with no chance of becoming world class – but that did not matter. At the same time, my goal is to be as authentic and integral as possible. Authenticity and integrity are also the basis of good teamwork, which is central to me. Because I am convinced that a well-coordinated team is unbeatable and successful.
What would you do differently if you could?
Every experience made me the person I am today – be it positive or negative. Even though some situations in life could have gone differently, I am grateful for where I am in my life today.
What is the best advice you received or the one you would give to women who want to develop professionally ?
Women often feel they have to work harder and perform more tasks. They want to draw attention to themselves by doing so. However, that doesn’t work. I have always made myself seen and made it clear what I want to achieve with confidence. That’s the advice I would give.
What is in your view the most important change over the last 4 decades for women ?
Looking specifically at Switzerland, I see the women’s right to vote as key moment that accelerated the liberation of women across the country. Even though women’s suffrage happened over 50 years ago, let us not forget that the last Swiss canton only introduced it in 1991. This allowed women not only to vote but live as independent individuals who do not need to seek permission from their husbands to enter the workforce, for example. Luckily, this is hard to imagine from today’s perspective.
What is in your opinion the most important change still to come/implement over the next years for women development?
There is still a lot to be done: According to the World Economic Forum, it could take us up to 135 years to close the global gender gap – so motions for equal pay and equal opportunities come to mind. With regards to this, I believe we must also be aware not all women are facing the same challenges. For example, Black women or trans women experience discrimination differently. Acknowledging that intersectionality and consciously tackling it is crucial for our society. Of course, this goes beyond just women and is relevant for other communities such as LGBTQIA+ people or people with disabilities.
How can women across generations leverage each other?
I have always learned the most from my colleagues. Also, I am an avid advocate of “reverse mentoring”: I know I can learn just as much from a younger colleague as they can learn from me. We need to help each other – that is important.