Strong Voices Interview #23: Katia Murmann Amirhosseini - Board Member & Entrepreneur

Last year, I discovered the Equal Voice summit the night before and wrote the person in charge, Katia, if there is a chance that we provide last-minute gifts. I wrote the email at 23:24, she replied in the morning: Sure, come by.
Since then, she has empowered and promoted me in a way that I can probably never give back except maybe doing the same for other women 'on the rise'. For me personally, Katia is a force - a woman with impact that leads by example when it comes to female empowerment. 
The interview is so full of insights and I am beyond proud to have  Katia Murmann Amirhosseini as our next strong voice. 
 

ABOUT KATIA:

Katia is an experienced executive and board member with over 20 years in the international media and technology industry and was until last year Chief Product Officer at Ringier. She brought to life the initiatives of EqualVoice and Edit-a-thon to make women more visible in media and society.
Currently, her focus is on training the next generation of leaders with her company WolfPak. She is also the chairwoman, board member and advisor of various companies and mother of three. 

OUR QUESTIONS:

You've been working in the media industry for more than 20 years and are committed to making women more visible in the media. Where do you see the biggest deficits at the moment? And what do you think is needed to achieve the goal of making women more visible in the media?

Let me start with some data: 18% of all media coverage worldwide is about women. 15% of all biographies on Wikipedia are about women. Far too many great women remain invisible. I was able to co-found two initiatives to change that: EqualVoice by Ringier and the Edit-a-thon. At EqualVoice, an algorithm at media companies measures how visible women are in publications. At Blick, where I was editor-in-chief from 2017 to 2021, we were able to increase the proportion of women in reporting from 22% to 32% in three years, as well as in other titles. In the Edit-a-thon, which is about writing women's biographies on Wikipedia, we started at 15% - and after three years we're still at 17%. There is still a lot to do, but the two examples show: We are not powerless, but each and every one of us can do something. In concrete terms: We women can dare to appear more often in the media with our expertise. We are still too timid in this respect.

What experiences have you had as a woman in the media and technology worlds?

Both are worlds in which women were rarely in leadership positions when I started working. As a journalist in the newsroom, I was always surrounded by women. But the further up the hierarchy I went, the fewer women there were. I always saw, though: There are great women I want to lead. And so on my teams, the team leads were 50/50. That's also something that women in leadership positions can do: Promote other women. And fortunately, more and more women are now getting into the executive chair in the media world, which makes me very happy. In the tech world, it still needs some work.

What difficulties have you faced and how did you overcome them?

I love challenges because they are an opportunity to do something differently and change for the better. In this sense, I have also encountered difficulties. One was actually: how do I make it in a male-dominated environment that women are also heard and seen more? This is where we initiated the change with EqualVoice.

You support various start-ups with your expertise, what are the most common issues that come up? What advice do you like to give to young founders?

I work with many great founders. For almost all of them, the most important topics are sales, marketing and, at the moment, financing. Men often sell well and quickly, get financing without big sales - and then have problems with the sustainable sale of their products. With women, it's often the other way around: they work quietly for a long time, often already have users and sales, and then have a hard time getting to the next level - in sales and financing. To do this, they have to sell themselves better, which is difficult for many. My advice to all: 

  1. Develop your products with your users, in quick iterations. That way, you make sure you don't miss the market. 
  2. Know your data and learn from it.
  3. Sell yourself well: good products that are developed with users will get funding, even in difficult economic times.

As a successful career woman and mother of three, it must not always be easy to reconcile your professional and private life, how do you find your balance here?

I am lucky to have a wonderful husband and parents who support us. I am very grateful for both. The children themselves provide the right balance: When I'm with them, I can switch off wonderfully and immerse myself in their worlds. 

What advice do you have for young women who would like to combine children and a career?

By all means, do it! Three tips:

  1. There is no perfect time.
  2. It's hard sometimes, but hang in there - it's so worth it.
  3. Specifically, if you're pregnant: keep working, with a reduced workload, but don't give up your leadership position. You can do it!

Do you have a personal guiding principle that has always motivated you throughout your professional career?

I had and still have role models: People who are strong and successful in what I want to achieve. That's what drives me. My guiding principle is: Dream big - and make it happen.

Looking back at the beginning of your career, what would you have liked to have known back then and what would you pass on to young professionals now?

I would have liked to know how important leadership is and that leadership can be learned. I started my career in an environment where the motto was: Either you're a born leader - or you won't learn. I only discovered much later that there are simple tools and opportunities to learn good leadership. Leadership is crucial to the success of not only your team, but any company. That's why I founded WolfPak with my co-founder Diana Engetschwiler, a company focused on giving young team leaders the tools they need to succeed with their teams.

 

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