It’s no secret that the road to transformation is often a bumpy one. When you’re supporting companies to unlock their digital future, there are usually new strategies, processes and technologies that have to be mastered. Any one of these can hamper progress. Resistance, however, is typically the biggest obstacle. It’s hard for humans to adopt new behaviors and practices. “Driving transformation often requires an entirely new mindset. I support people to find common ground, to find ways to work together that feels productive and sustainable,” says Sandra, a project leader at Siemens Advanta Consulting.
Transformation initiatives are introduced to bring specific results. When these don’t materialize, agile coaches like Sandra are frequently brought in to find out why and to remedy the situation. “At the beginning I’m called in because something is not working. I take individuals, teams and businesses on an impactful journey to ensure long-term benefits for everyone involved,” she says, adding “When I leave, it’s always on a positive note because I know the change in mindset is not cosmetic. It’s real. It’s sustainable. It’s only then that I leave the project, not before.”
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We all know this to be true of teams – at least in theory. The ability to turn this truth into a practical reality is what Sandra’s work is all about. “My job is to figure out how people can unlock the potential in themselves and as part of a team. It’s only when everyone on the team can fulfil their whole potential that teams work best,” Sandra says. How that plays out differs from project to project. A willingness to collaborate is crucial. Without that, everyone is stuck.
Recognizing the diverse talents, backgrounds and specializations of people on the team is also crucial. Here, Sandra’s 20-plus years of professional experience gives her a handy translation tool and fluency. She speaks the language of different organizations and technologies and has first-hand, in-depth knowledge of how they work, what concerns them and their strengths.
“I’ve worked on so many different teams, on so many different projects with businesses across the world. I’ve worked in China, in Eastern European countries, in Russia, in Mexico – and of course in Germany. Success of projects always comes down to people. That makes my work challenging at times, but so enriching,” she says.
I support people to find common ground, to find ways to work together that feels productive and sustainable.
LEARNING NEVER ENDS
Sandra’s first experience of the Siemens ecosystem and the broad range of clients it supports was as a working student, filling the breaks while studying mathematics and philosophy at universities in Munich and Mexico. It was a holiday job, helping her to finance travel to Latin America and elsewhere. “To be honest, back then I didn’t plan on working here full time. But the work I was doing was fascinating. I was learning so much and didn’t want that to stop,” she says.
Part of the reason why the learning curve remains steep is the constant exposure to clients from different industries and their unique needs. “Every team I support, every project I’m engaged with, is a learning experience for me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a kick-off event bringing different businesses together, facilitating meetings with regional heads or accompanying teams on a collaborative treasure hunt, I’m always learning,” she says.
Every team I support, every project I’m engaged with, is a learning experience for me.
This passion for learning has been a constant in her life, both at work and beyond. As a hobby archaeologist she can combine her fascination with people and how they interact with her love of travel. “We’re that family you see on archaeological sites, studying over books, closely examining remaining structures. I find the ancient past fascinating, whether it be the Roman era or Mexico’s incredible history,” she says.
Archaeology is a strange profession, balancing very hands-on work with academically rigorous thinking. No matter the geological environment, the purpose is almost always the same: to reveal the types of human activities and strategies that took place at a site centuries ago and to speculate on the motivations of the individuals in a particular civilization, to figure out what we can learn from these ancient groupings of people and the technologies they used. Sandra’s passion for people stretches from the very distant past to the furthest horizons of the future. Talking about Siemens Advanta Consulting she says: “The technological advancements are fascinating, but for me it’s always been about the people. That’s what keeps me here.”
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