Maria Kristensen is an Agile Program Manager – Release Train Engineer at Schroders
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
Actually I never planned to work in technology as I do now – I studied science but a move to a different county led to a change in career. I moved from Denmark to Luxembourg in 2000 with a plan to stay for six months and I’m still here, working for the same company I joined in 2000! My role within Schroders has changed almost every two years and I’m currently working as an Release Train Engineer – which means I coach our agile teams and assist them in delivering value to the company.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No – I have always been curious and eager to learn and then I just took whatever opportunity was available for me to develop further. I used to think it was just a question about being at the right place and the right time – but I have also realised that it has a lot to do with being open minded and seeing opportunities in every job.
Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
The biggest challenges was when I had children. I felt a big push from society and women around me to stop working or at least reduce my hours. Having grown up in a society where the norm is that both parents work, it was surprising for me to feel this pressure. I choose to believe that if I was happy my children would be happy. As I have always enjoyed working and felt I made a difference it was obvious for me that I had to continue working and develop my skills.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Women tend to hold back and doubt themselves so I would work towards having more push and mentoring for women.
Motivate women to take risks and create an environment where you can make mistakes and learn from them.
When I have moved into new positions it has always been following a push from peers who have encouraged me to move into new territories.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I currently mentor a student and I learn a lot from this as well. It is fun to get a different perspective on our ways of working and help the student navigate and find a place in the corporate landscape.
I’m keen to have a mentor myself who I could discuss career ideas with and pros and cons of various options.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Taking on the Release Train Engineer role within Schroders and influencing the company’s transformation into agile. I found my passion in agile and I’m eager to develop my abilities in the area further.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
Given the speed at which the world is changing at the moment my next job title might not even exist yet – however I will be ready to embrace the next opportunity which comes my way in this ever-changing technology environment.
What advice would you give to others?
With the speed of change, business-related books are out of date before they are written – use podcasts to learn about the latest buzz. Convert your time spent commuting from wasted time to discovery time.
How do you re-energise during the work day?
I follow some funny people on Twitter and 140 characters from one of them can always bring a smile to my face and make me ready for the next challenge.