This post is part of our Women in BPM interview series. It is intended to inspire and encourage people (and especially women) with stories and insights from women who work in Business Process Management (BPM). You will hear about what drives them, who supported them on their way, what tips they have, and why they find processes so fascinating. You can see the other Women in BPM posts here.
Ariane Schulze is one of the many incredible female leaders in a business process management (BPM) role. She is the team leader of the internal control system at BWI, which is the IT Service Provider of the German Federal Armed Forces. Her path is far from typical. She studied European public administration at university, but soon realized that she was more passionate about IT and using the power of software to solve problems – which is something she had started doing very early in her life. She followed this passion and started her career as an IT consultant. Since then, she has evolved her career to now lead the internal control systems team at BWI – the IT service provider of the German Federal Armed Forces. That means when processes and systems in the German military run smoothly, they have Ariane and her team to thank.
“IT is everywhere, and we should learn how to use it”Ariane Schulze
Success factors and lessons learned
In our conversation with Ariane, we learned many things about her and how she has shaped her career. But there were a few key principles that stood out and that can be applied by any person—and particularly women—interested in process management. These insights are listed below.
1. Passion is the engine of success
Being successful–and especially being successful in the long run–shouldn’t be about your gender. It should be more about following your passion and surrounding yourself with people who support you and inspire you along your way. It is a question of attitude and whether you believe in what you are doing – if you don’t, why should others? Ariane has always had a special interest not only in IT and processes but also in enthusiastically and openly sharing her knowledge with others. Because of this passion, people believe in her and are willing to follow her. And if there is one thing that matters most in BPM, it is the importance of having people on board and aligned.
“If you have passion, you can shape the future around you, people will follow you and support your vision”Ariane Schulze
2. Knowledge is there to be shared
The importance of mutual support cannot be overstated. One person who really inspired Ariane is Madeleine Albright, who served as the first female US Secretary of State. She promoted women to work more together, to support and push each other forward because “societies are more stable if women are politically and economically empowered.”
Following in the footsteps of her role model, Ariane feels it important to support others, both professionally and politically. Like Madeleine Albright, she is politically engaged and committed to including female perspectives and giving women a voice. Professionally, it is also important for her to empower other women, to share her knowledge with them in order to inspire more women to enter fields that have historically been male dominated. The more diverse a company or a team, the more stable it is according to Ariane.
At its core, process management is about sharing knowledge across silos and making it available to everyone so that they can work together – as a diverse team – towards a common goal. Collaboration, engagement and support are key attributes of business process transformation projects. Everyone can and should get involved.
3. Think outside the box and never stop learning
This is where processes come into play. According to Ariane, one of the greatest strengths of women is that they are looking everywhere, finding connections, keeping the big picture in mind, and are good at taking care of business. She encourages them to look at processes holistically and not just at one part of them. As Ariane mentioned, we are surrounded by processes, and everything relates to each other. This ability to find the individual pieces of the puzzle, put them together and look at the whole picture, is of course not specific to women, but a general success factor for businesses and transformation projects.
Her advice to women: “Be brave, believe in yourself, try new things, don’t worry about failure, and learn to code.”
The most important thing, however, is to constantly develop and not to stand still – both personally and professionally. Focus on innovation and improvement instead of getting stuck in the daily grind, and generate new ideas and learn something new every day. That’s what makes the field of BPM so exciting and attractive. You never stop learning, and there is always a new skill to learn or a new tool to get into. You constantly improve and your passion reignites again and again.
Watch the full interview here and learn more about the fascinating story of Ariane Schulze: