Grand Slam Journey

78. Nicole Wieberneit︱Skiing to Success: Lessons from the German Alps to Microsoft Leadership 🇺🇸

May 15, 2024 Klara Jagosova Season 3
78. Nicole Wieberneit︱Skiing to Success: Lessons from the German Alps to Microsoft Leadership 🇺🇸
Grand Slam Journey
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Grand Slam Journey
78. Nicole Wieberneit︱Skiing to Success: Lessons from the German Alps to Microsoft Leadership 🇺🇸
May 15, 2024 Season 3
Klara Jagosova

Step into the dynamic world of visionary leadership and strategic innovation with Dr. Nicole Wieberneit,  the Managing Director of Sales Strategy and Business Architecture Cross Solutions at Microsoft, whose journey from competitive skiing to global leadership is nothing short of inspiring. Our latest episode reveals how Nicole integrates Key Performance Indicators into her leadership style and the significance of celebrating team milestones. Her tales, from the snowy slopes of the German Alps to the boardrooms of tech titans, reveal the resilience and dedication needed to thrive in today's business ecosystem.

From the intricacies of family dynamics and career shifts across continents to the evolution of CRM and sales strategies, Nicole's narrative is a treasure trove of insights. Discover how her early days as an IT consultant within SAP laid the groundwork for her transformative role at Microsoft. We trace her professional growth, the challenges she's faced, and the triumphs that have defined her career, offering valuable takeaways for anyone looking to scale new professional heights.

As we conclude, Nicole reflects on the broader themes of gender equality in leadership and the integration of personal values into professional life, sharing how these principles shape her approach to parenting and mentorship. We also look ahead to the future of business and technology, with Nicole providing a glimpse into the potential impact of AI on CRM systems and customer engagement. Join us for a conversation that bridges the personal and the professional, celebrating the shared success stories that empower and inspire.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn

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This content is also available in a video version on YouTube.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with someone who may enjoy it as well, and consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also submit your feedback directly on my website.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Step into the dynamic world of visionary leadership and strategic innovation with Dr. Nicole Wieberneit,  the Managing Director of Sales Strategy and Business Architecture Cross Solutions at Microsoft, whose journey from competitive skiing to global leadership is nothing short of inspiring. Our latest episode reveals how Nicole integrates Key Performance Indicators into her leadership style and the significance of celebrating team milestones. Her tales, from the snowy slopes of the German Alps to the boardrooms of tech titans, reveal the resilience and dedication needed to thrive in today's business ecosystem.

From the intricacies of family dynamics and career shifts across continents to the evolution of CRM and sales strategies, Nicole's narrative is a treasure trove of insights. Discover how her early days as an IT consultant within SAP laid the groundwork for her transformative role at Microsoft. We trace her professional growth, the challenges she's faced, and the triumphs that have defined her career, offering valuable takeaways for anyone looking to scale new professional heights.

As we conclude, Nicole reflects on the broader themes of gender equality in leadership and the integration of personal values into professional life, sharing how these principles shape her approach to parenting and mentorship. We also look ahead to the future of business and technology, with Nicole providing a glimpse into the potential impact of AI on CRM systems and customer engagement. Join us for a conversation that bridges the personal and the professional, celebrating the shared success stories that empower and inspire.

Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn

8 EIGHT SLEEP
Save $200 on 8Sleep and get better quality and deeper sleep with automatic temperature adjustment

LEORÊVER COMPRESSION AND ACTIVEWEAR
Get 10% off Loerêver Balanced Compression and Activewear to elevate your confidence and performance

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

This content is also available in a video version on YouTube.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with someone who may enjoy it as well, and consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can also submit your feedback directly on my website.

Follow @GrandSlamJourney on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and join the LinkedIn community.

Nicole:

The visionary leadership, or called the leadership upfront, is really driving that vision and then putting it into building blocks. What does that mean? So that is then breaking it down and then getting them to work towards that and measuring towards. And I think the KPIs need to be often in place for them, because a lot of people actually need structure. And the second is, for me, that more coaching style. So how do I ask the right question to help them solve a problem? And the third thing is, which I think is super, super important we're not doing enough.

Nicole:

We don't celebrate success because we constantly talk about the problem and the negative and this is not working, that is not working. We forget actually what we achieved. So, looking back and celebrating success to really help the team to create that kind of positive energy, and looking how much did you achieve? Because it's nothing operational. It's not a task list. Yes, the task list is nice. I really like them sometimes, but it's not with that higher kind of goal and mission that you would like to achieve. Where I think a lot of the sales strategist is because we're working in a very complex matrix organization. You need to have marketing, you have product group, you have customer success. You have the field, you have finance and you need to bring your ideas through, so that leadership from the side, or driving influence without authority, is a huge, a huge aspect and I think that is one of the things which I constantly work with the team on which I think is super important to be successful, but it's super hard. The last thing is really you need to be in the values.

Klara:

Hello ladies, gentlemen, and welcome to the Grand Slam Journey podcast, where we discuss various topics related to the Grand Slam journey of our lives Sports lessons we have learned from our athletic endeavors and how we are applying them in the next chapter of our lives, growing our skills and leadership in whatever we decide to put our minds into. For my guest today, Dr. Nicole Wieberneit, areas of business and technology In today's conversation we cover Nicole's Grand Slam journey from being a competitive skier, grown up in German Alps, to being the leader at Microsoft. Nicole is an award-winning global sales and strategy executive with over 20 years of international experience and proven track record of leading worldwide revenue growth, incubating products in highly complex matrix organizations like Microsoft and SAP. At Microsoft, she's been spearheading the growth of various emerging solutions, implementing innovative go-to-market strategies, leaping revenues from $2 to $50 million, mixed reality to $20 million and scaling low-code to $800 million. She directed a transformative field sales experiment, pivoting from product-focused to AI-centered solution selling, which significantly contributed to 150 million revenue increase. She has won several awards, such as Hall of Fame award People and Collaboration, by partnering with and influencing leaders from other divisions to design and execute several cross-sell programs.

Klara:

If you enjoyed this conversation, please share it with someone you believe may enjoy it as well. Consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next episode. This conversation is also available in video on the YouTube Grand Slam Journey channel. This is your host, klara Egoshava. Thank you for tuning in, and now I bring you Dr Nicole Wieberneit. Hello Nicole, welcome to the Grand Slam Journey podcast. So great to have you. How are you doing today?

Nicole:

Thank you, Klara, for having me here. I'm doing well. How about you?

Klara:

All good here, enjoying the weather. It's been great in Texas, although we did have some storms earlier this week. But that's not what we're going to talk about. I know we're here mostly to talk about your Grand Slam journey of life. You're currently sales leader at Microsoft, enabling go-to-market strategies and leading high-performance team to accelerate growth, with focus on software as a service and platform as a service global solutions. But you also have beautiful multicultural background. You've moved to several different countries and in childhood you were a competitive skier. I love skiing, so actually I'm super excited to dive into that. I wish I had more time to ski, still in the winter. It's one of the sports that I still enjoy the most nowadays. So that's a quick intro for me, but I want to hand it to you. What would you want listeners to know about you? What would you want to add?

Nicole:

Thank, you Clara? Yeah, so I'm Dr Nicole Wiebernit, currently live with my family in Greater Seattle. Besides working in go-to-market and sales strategy, I wear different hats. I'm a mother of three teenage girls, so that's the reason why I need to work, to have some kind of clear mind. My dog Loki another female in our family, so that keeps me insane, because I actually walk and need to get out there, I would say, as personally, I really have a passion for experiences. So from cooking to traveling to sport, but also when I look at my work, I really like to drive great employee and customer experiences, and so, from a work perspective, I'm looking after a team of sales or go-to-market strategists and I'm currently running an experiment at Microsoft on how can we sell better across our portfolio and really how can we have the customer in mind, getting more customer-centric, and how can I design impactful customer and employee experiences to grow our sales revenue. So that's a little bit about my background.

Klara:

I love that Starting from the experience and diving right into it, and obviously Microsoft is a great and big company who understands it. There's many other companies who kind of live and breathe this, but the obsession with experience it always drives more sales right. How do you employees and customers feel if it's done in the right way will then trigger to obviously more sales, brand loyalty, retention, low churn and many other great metrics that business leader look after. But maybe going all the way to the start in your upbringing, I'm always curious how my guests grow up and where they grow up. I have many international guests. You're also from Germany, so maybe, if you take us back to your childhood, what was your upbringing like? And I've hinted you were a competitive skier. So what led you to?

Nicole:

your sport. I was born in the German Alps and about 1000 meters above zero no idea what that is in feet. So and maybe people can remember with listeners here, on the castle Neuschwanstein, disney has mirrored that castle, so that's where I basically grew up, in a small village there, with that castle. So that's where I basically grew up in a small village there. My family was very well known and my granddad was the founder of the ski club and he helped fundraise and built like a ski jumping facility. So he was really obsessed with skiing and he drove with his motorbike, having the skis on the back up to Oberstdorf, where the big jumping competitions are still there, and to live his life of skiing. So I would say I got skis put into my crib and when I was born and started with about two years on to really got put onto ski, my mom was the one who had the passion, so she took me out at a very young age. We had our own lift in the village to go there or even going into other areas. With about four or five I joined the ski club.

Nicole:

Now you need to understand the German school system. In Germany school ends at lunchtime, so you actually have a lot of time in the afternoon and we had that small lift in our village. So I went home, had lunch, I put my skis on and skied down. I could just ski down a hill and I was there at the lift. And so we were always a bunch of kids and used that ski lift and we built our own jumps, we went through the woods, we tried different tricks and for me it was all about the camaraderie and playing outside together. Basically, the races were on, and for me I especially love the speed disciplines and the thrill which comes with going down, and until today I get the most joy when I think about doing first tracks in a fresh, prepared, hard run and speeding down and with as little curves as you can do, and that gives me a lot of pleasure. I feel like I'm free, I'm flying a little bit like that. So that was my kind of daily routine, and even you know, when you're going higher in school, you still have your afternoons free.

Nicole:

When I was then 17, the head coach offered me to pay for a coaching license. So I thought to myself hey, that is. First of all, I can give something back to younger girls, because I was the only girl in the ski club and I can bring them in because I was focusing on younger kids under 10. But it's also a good way, when you think about going into college and university, to earn some money in the evening. So I took that on and then started my coaching life. Unfortunately, nowadays I'm only a few days up in the mountains. So, clara, I have exactly the same problem and I actually have a mountain here in Seattle just behind me, but I did ski the Rockies. I skied all over Europe. I skied in New Zealand where I left. Japan is still on my bucket list and definitely some of the other places like Aspen. So nowadays, but having three kids and skiing is an expensive sport, unfortunately, and the time is not there. But that's a little bit about my skiing journey and my life and how I did get there.

Klara:

Love it. I have several questions I want to dive into, but maybe the first one do you have a favorite mountain when you think back, a favorite one you like to go to or used to enjoy skiing?

Nicole:

on. My biggest memory and when I go is Schladming in Austria. That's when I did a lot of skiing holidays with my parents. They took out one week to really go away and ski and for me Austria has something with the atmosphere of the huts and the village and the field. Plus there were, like it's, I think, four connected mountains, so you actually have quite a wide variety of runs that you can go down to. So that's for me from an atmosphere, field perspective, I think from the best runs was France I have been in Tignes and the long runs and the amount of like kilometers you can go and the changes, it's massive but there was a lot of concrete in the mountains etc. From the skiing itself, I think the best experience I ever had was heli skiing in Canada in the Rockies. There Before we had kids, my husband and I we flew two weeks to Canada to ski Lake Louise, sunshine Village and we did a day of heli-skiing.

Klara:

Wow, that's impressive. I just recently actually see some of my friends doing helicopter skiing out of Alaska, and it seems like as well everyone who has a dream of trying it out. When they do, everyone says it's actually exactly what they imagine, or more, it's one of the best experiences of their lives they have had. I haven't done it yet, so maybe I need to put it on your list. Yeah, that sounds impressive and you have to send me your list. Sorry, austria, did you say Schlamming or Schlamming?

Nicole:

yes, schlamming in the Steiermark, which have also very good food. Back to my experience I love food.

Klara:

Well, when you go on vacation, it seems like it's just the perfect pairing. And I agree Austria with kind of the villages and the mountain. It has this beautiful environment. It all comes together for that what you mentioned, experience actually that we started with yeah, and it's actually when you think about that, even Italy, you know no-transcript.

Klara:

That's been our place, Actually more my mom and my sister. They've been going there. It was their 20-year anniversary. Actually they haven't been there every year, but they've been going there now for almost 20 years in a row and it was just so disappointing. It was the first year ever. It was the first year ever it was raining and so it was just one of the worst weather experiences we have had.

Klara:

But I love Kronplatz for kind of the reasons you had mentioned. They have long runs, wide slopes so you can go fast around people, you don't have to kind of be behind anyone and they groom all night and so when you go in the morning I love the feeling of the fresh grooms. You can still see the lines under your skis and that first lift up at like 8 30 is just fantastic. So I love going in early and experiencing pretty much exactly what you had said on the skis. It reminds me, maybe just to share there's one black diamond.

Klara:

It actually is on the side, but because it's on the side there's not many people in the morning and we used to stay in a cottage right by it and it part of it is like super steep. Anybody who's watching is like this type of angle like part of the slope, but when you go in the morning not many people are there and you have control. Because it's freshly groomed, you can go really fast. And it reminds me almost being like a dragon from Avatar. You know, like the biggest dragon says that they're flying. I was like I have that feeling. It's like the biggest dragon in Avatar and you're just flying down the hill and nobody can catch you. I love it.

Nicole:

But that is exactly the feeling I have when I'm on ski, so I compare it like a bird that can fly, but it feels like I can do everything and I'm free. It's a very emotional state and it's really what I think drives a lot of my passion.

Klara:

I love that and I can imagine when you grew up feeling it. I guess what do you replace it with? So maybe we'll come back to it. But I also want to touch on you mentioned you were the only girl in your ski club, which is interesting because, given you come from a countryside, it seems like there's really just hills and that's the only thing you all did in the afternoon. I would have thought there would be more girls kind of joining the fun. So if you reflect back, was there something different? Was it because your family was so much into skiing that led you to the sport, perhaps more than others, and it's not as typical for girls, because I think skiing is still not completely a guy's sport. I would have thought there would be more boys and girls sort of mix.

Nicole:

It's actually a really good question and I was just reflecting back because even when I think about so not only the ski club itself, but being in the afternoon out there it was mainly boys and it was really very little females that did it. And I can remember that even you know, we built these charms. I never went over them, but I was the one who said it's cleared to go, but no, I think it had to do a lot. Why I joined was because of my upbringing and my family, with my grandfather being one of the founders and the head of the ski club. And it's not only that.

Nicole:

I was doing downhill skiing, I was also at the beginning, doing cross-country skiing. I had female friends, don't get me wrong, but they were not out there. I don't know why. I hope it's changing and you definitely see that. And when I look at my girls, they all ski and they all had to learn ski because it's a passion of mine and it's still a family kind of sport and we going up there together and it's something we actually can do together. But if you look at, like, the parks itself, etc. They're mainly boys.

Klara:

I think it's probably that risk taking and showing these things, but I have no idea maybe the parks I sort of get, because my partner always tells me is like first, men never grow up and even if we pretend that we do, we always stuck at the 15 years of age and the things that we do when we're teenagers. It's actually impressive that more of us don't die because we just do crazy stuff just because we're boys and we think it'll be cool. So I think there's something especially in kind of the teenage years growing up and the combination of aggressivity and like the positive, playful side but the playfulness with it and trying to see who can do the crazy thing can still stay alive. I think is something that is just born in on average in the male category.

Nicole:

But I think, even when I think back on racing, it's probably we had three times more boys racing than females over all the clubs within the regions.

Klara:

Yeah, definitely far more boys and you recently went to whistler. I'm curious how was that?

Nicole:

oh, we had awesome awesome, awesome snow and weather. It was basically you had all the seasons, from spring skiing, you know, slushy, warm, especially in the afternoon, to hard runs, sunshine, fresh powder, so you really could go into deep powder skiing and especially during the week there was not that many people around, so it was great. And then trying out some runs. And then you, you have my kids, so, like I said, it's really teenage girls, so get get them speaking. So like driving in a car, sitting there next to you. It's the same. On going up to life, you learn a lot about what's going on in their life. They're making these selfies and wherever they pose, but it's a good connection that you can have with the family and time out there and then enjoy together. And then I have one who likes going through the jumps, the other one likes to speed, the third one really likes to go off piste Nice.

Klara:

So you have a whole mix. You got to vote and decide which slope or which terrain you're going to do. When that's good Variety.

Nicole:

We also split up, or the one goes later or one stops earlier. So we do that. So you always have someone you can ski with because they're now old enough and they go the same speed. It's not like you need to wait, like when they were young, and especially my youngest one she could drive me nuts because she was very headstrong. So she started skiing when she was two and she wanted to go up the pass and I'm like you can't do that and I was scared you know her in the chairlift that she falls out and like she wasn't allowed to move because I'm actually afraid of heights. So my passion for skiing pushes me to use the chairlift.

Klara:

That's a good combination because some of the chairlifts they have a really good height. So if you look down I can see how that could be a good combination of overcoming your fear and then having the joy of going down the hill fast and being free. I love that. So, building on that and maybe along the line of experiences, you have had many international and multicultural experiences. Obviously you've shared about your upbringing in Germany, but then you also lived in Canada, new Zealand, then you moved back to Germany and now you're in the US in the Seattle area. So I'm curious about the multicultural upbringing and maybe what drove some of those changes for you. And even if there's a specific country or city you enjoyed living in the most, what?

Nicole:

always drove me. I wanted to travel a lot. My mom is actually. She loves to travel, so she was already in about more than 100 countries. So when I was young we traveled a lot. I was six years old, I was in Senegal, africa. So that's kind of you know see the world and you see a lot.

Nicole:

I was six years old, I was in Senegal, africa. So that's kind of you know see the world and you see a difference. And then I found that while growing up in the mountains and having that close, tight knit, I felt like I was in a cage. So I just couldn't wait, once I finished high school to go away. I moved into another city and then, during university itself, I studied for a year in the UK and went there. So that kind of learning to see and exploring different cultures is probably a big drive why I moved a lot around. When you have that kind of global setting and you had the first taste and you're coming back, I can remember when I studied in the UK for a year and come back, you see the world in a different way and actually you see things which you have done before you don't like that much.

Nicole:

A lot of people say it's harder to come back than to actually go away, and so that seeing new things, learning new things, and it's still that kind of interest in innovation and that interest to do something new, combined with that traveling, is which really drives to go after new kind of positions. And we always moved because of job. It was not because we said, hey, we would like to go there. No, it's like we moved from Cunard to New Zealand. We have never been to New Zealand before and we agreed to go there and it was like, okay, what is the worst that could happen? We don't like it? Then we move on and go to the next one. Now I forgot the other question.

Klara:

Did you have a favorite place you lived in or a city, definitely?

Nicole:

It's New Zealand. It's for me from an upbringing perspective from kids. The work-life balance is amazing and we talked about from the skiing in the mountains there you have basically all the climate zones from glaciers to deserts, so you're always very close to the water, and family and private time is very important. When I think back, I'm a consultant in Germany. You're still on client side at 7 pm, 8 pm. There are people who leave the office by 4.30. You're the only one in the office Doesn't mean these people don't work hard or come back, but it is like, hey, you go, it's family time and I think that kind of lifestyle is what really drawed me into and gave me that kind of pleasure, and so I have New Zealand citizen nowadays and I think that is where we will retire.

Nicole:

On the other side, the negative impact is because it's so far away from everything, there are no jobs. There is no manufacturing industry there, so you basically have tourism and then government and a little bit of construction etc. So the type of jobs that are available are very, very limited. So if you want to make a career and you want to go to the next step or you want to learn more, there is limited options and I run my own consulting company at that time and we were focusing on SAP CRM and the product ecosystem, so really consulting from strategic IT consulting to implementation.

Nicole:

But SAP changed their strategy. Salesforce came very heavily in and grew in the cloud space as well as like Microsoft was putting on the cloud. So we basically started to see we are losing our kind of livelihood because somebody else changed the strategy. So we had to look at what are our options and, like I said before, we always move because of jobs and we have one rule in our family we optimize for our family career. We opted to have kids, so we decided to move again and it went to Germany at that point in time.

Klara:

And that's also smart. I think some people don't realize having kids come with obligation and you need to prioritize, you need to kind of adjust your life based on the seasons, right, then, what's most important for you? And so I love that you mentioned it, because sometimes I come across people that had kids or have kids. It's like, oh, now I have to do this and this and this. I'm like, yeah, that's what having kids mean. That's why you kind of have to build your life around them to help support their becoming a great human and productive human in society, whatever that means for them.

Nicole:

I think also, it's important to not forget yourself. So you need to have a balance, because I also seen the other ones where you have really great trained, educated women who have done a career and then they stay at home moms and it's like is that all that you wanted? Because when I look at, think about how fast we both work in the technology sector, five years is like a lifetime. Your knowledge is old and so you're taking so much time out. You basically have to start from scratch and not only is your career in hold, you're basically not growing, and that has a huge impact because your kids at one point will leave. Yes, they need you and you need to be there for them. Yeah, and I'm not saying you should abandon and travel all the time, but how can you make a balance for both?

Nicole:

And I think for myself and a lot of time that was finding balance. Now I can. At the moment they're a teenager. I can say now I can grow and I can impact further, but I stayed and grew at the same time, and I think for your own self and for own confidence and your own values, think about what is the right path for you and I cannot say my path is the right one for everyone, for God's sake. Probably people think I am crazy. I think you need to find your own one, because your kids will leave your husband. Who knows what happens to them? I had friends where they died very early on and then you're standing there with a mound of debts which you need to go after.

Klara:

I also think, being from Europe, it's more of the common structure, because the social setting is different than here in the US. Schools here for kids in the US are much more expensive. Obviously, depending on the job, you may or may not make more money. But, for example, I have friends who are teachers which you don't make very much money being a teacher and so eventually what that means is pretty much your whole salary goes towards somebody else watching your kids. So I think in those examples, like I sort of understand well, do you rather want to be there and raise your kids or do you want to teach other kids, and pretty much whatever you earn goes towards somebody else taking care of your kids. So those are definitely some of the things and priorities people have to make and the decisions they have to make for themselves.

Nicole:

You said it. They need to make the decision for themselves and think about it. And I get it. You know, at the beginning we spent a lot of money. I mean we still do. I'm currently selecting colleges in the US.

Klara:

So maybe going back to your career in business and technology, you mentioned you had a consulting firm and worked with CRM and SAP and it seems like you've really built your career on CRMs customer relationship management systems. It seems to be one of your bread and butter, kind of looking at your LinkedIn profile that you have started with. Back in the day before maybe people completely knew what CRM was. So I'm curious if you could tell us a little bit about that beginning, or even maybe go one step further. What led you towards business and technology? Was there any trend from your background and upbringing that made you be curious about that intersection of those two?

Nicole:

I like to be standout. I think that was one of the things which drove me, also why I went into skiing, but when I was at actually high school and sort of what I want to study, and until then I always knew what I wanted to do and I went for mathematics and economics with a minor in computer science and I had that idea I go into strategic consulting and Boston Consulting Groups, mckinsey's of this world. However, at that point in time However, at that point in time, sap had the big kind of growth time you know, going from SAP R2 to 3. And it was a hot name in the German market. Think about, you know, first, kind of normally, you had IBMs or HP was the name of the house, and there was that company in the middle of Germany who screwed. So I decided to apply and I got selected and what was interesting for me, it included a five-month training period at the beginning, whereas when you would go to an Accenture at that point in time, or Deloitte, it was like basically immediately going on to the job. And I was like I'm not sure you know, we talked about women and imposter syndrome. I want to learn first and be prepared.

Nicole:

So I went into IT consulting and I actually really loved it. I didn't have a clear picture where I wanted to go, but I could travel a lot. I was together with other people and at the same time I grew, I learned and my first big implementation project was actually with Maxim AB, a distributor of alcoholic beverages out of Amsterdam, where I was responsible for the marketing and sales process integration and this got me really hooked into the topic of customer experience and CRM and having that end-to-end kind of view, that more holistic view, because it wasn't only the CRM, but when you set up a promotion, how do you do accruals and finance, how do you think about the supply chains? So that was the starting point and then throughout the next 16 years I've really stayed into that SAP ecosystem and built my CRM consulting career up, including running my own company, and what I've done all the time was I always wanted to learn more, I always thought bigger. So when you're coming in and I think there's a big difference and we call it an all IT consultant, but I think there were some are consultants, some are configurators, and if you can stand up and really being that kind of translator from business requirement and can speak that business language and get that into IT and how to set it up, and then you see how that lands when you're going live. They can work that new system and it's easier for them. Sync user interfaces and having easy to use back to that employee experience is so important more important than having some automation to really get the user bringing in and you can see that you have that vision than how it should look like, whereas often when you talk to the current employees who are running that in that department, they're often stuck in that process. But if you can help them to achieve that next step, I think that's very satisfying.

Nicole:

So when SAP basically got themselves a little bit out of the market after 16 years, microsoft actually knocked on my door and asked me if I want to join. So it was for me a big, big leap and I was ready. Having done 16 years from strategy consulting so business case with L'Oreal Canada, having done the first kind of implementation of loyalty management in Asia, one of the first kind of trade promotion management, so a lot of that early innovation incubation project, plus that kind of end-to-end view, I was like, okay, it's time I need to learn something new. You can only go so much. So I went from the SAP ecosystem and jumped into Microsoft.

Nicole:

So from delivery to sales. Why, when you're doing delivery and you have your own company, you're doing sales, but it's different because you're getting far more structured and then you're having a bag that you need to carry and you need to close. But then it was like, oh my God, I don't know the customers, I don't know the partner ecosystem because it's so different. And then you think, oh my God, I need to learn a new kind of software system. By the way, it's not that hard, it's all just the same processes, but it really got me out of my comfort zone and that was a really, really big growth time in my life and the learning that you can actually take all that implementation.

Nicole:

I show up as a trusted advisor to the customers because I speak the language back, I can translate and it doesn't matter.

Nicole:

They actually don't care what kind of software system in the end it needs to reflect their goals and what they want to achieve and their processes. That started to get me the crowd. And when within Microsoft, we have this kind of expert selling teams, especially when you think about new incubation products and we had the relationship or partnership with Adobe, with Microsoft, and they were looking for someone to be that kind of expert seller in that customer experience or MarTech piece or MarTech piece. That was the move from New Zealand to Germany where I was the CTO of that partnership, and then going into sales management and then sales strategy and it was a really great time actually one of my best times working with that kind of global team. We were six people all across the world coming together and we did strategy, we did testing, we executed, we won, you know, new customers, we went to events like Adobe Summit Speaker, and that was then the stepping stone for where I am at now at Microsoft.

Klara:

I love your description of kind of the end-to-end career. It seems like you really had almost every single role when it comes to CRM management. You've kind of seen it from implementation to delivery, to obviously having your own consulting firm, to jumping into sales. So I appreciate you kind of mentioning even that fear you mentioned you have done some of sales, but to like pure sales roles, from my experience I always thought delivery people are fantastic sales. It just requires just a small pivot. But because you already know all the things that go into implementing, you understand the whole process.

Klara:

Really jumping into sales is just 5%, 10% reframing towards the customer, how you ask them the question, which you already typically know from experience, what the pain points are and what you need to ask them. So I love what you mentioned about that progression. When you look back, you highlighted a few roles that you seem very passionate about, but anything else you want to specifically point to that were either roles or experiences that helped you sharpen some of the skills, and they may have been either things that you have won and were great, or sometimes I think it's the hard times and some of the failures or mistakes that refine our skills even more, some of the things that perhaps come a bit harder to us, that we had to learn through some of the tougher experiences.

Nicole:

When I look at my good times and a really great project was actually that project in Amsterdam which you know. It was my first really implementation project and I was given at the beginning that configurator role. But they could see the talent when I can talk. So within four months I basically got to be that lead consultant. Immense of growth. I think when you're younger you take these risks easier, yeah, and you just go where else. Nowadays you think, oh my God, all went wrong. But when I look back, that was amazing, because it's not only that. We worked hard, we played hard. Think back, that was when? Was it 2001?

Nicole:

Money was not an object. We had Greenfield Project, which costs millions of dollars. If you think about an interface, we built that interface. If you need something, you're going. So that type of project being part of that, that was pure international project, not only from the consultants but from the customer. The person who was responsible for supply chain management came up with Australia, the one for CRM, for marketing, was in the Netherlands, the one for sales was out of the UK.

Nicole:

So getting knowing that and seeing that kind of experience and your growth and what you can achieve and that somebody is really believing in you, I found that was really good. The other one was for L'Oreal Canada. I was already the expert for trade promotion management and there was hardly anyone around the world which had a lot of that knowledge and they looked for someone doing a business case and I actually did that as a contractor, the site while I was finishing my PhD and having kids, by the way. So think about you know what do you get out of? What's the priority? But being there, knowing that you're a real expert and believing in you, and that is actually that expertise and that reputation opens up doors for you. And I know there was in leadership principles. There was someone who said either you're an expert in reputation or you're going really general management kind of thing. But people need to decide at one point. And I think, going back to reflecting on my career, I need that kind of being an expert and immerse myself in it, because that opens my door. I need that grounding for myself to be confident and really be able to drive that and that I can run this kind of strategic process. So that was the second big thing, I think, from an experience perspective and learning is you learn from failures and where things are not going that well I would say, especially when I moved from SAP into the Microsoft ecosystem and you come into a role I was the only one in New Zealand the first one who had that role. So you then need to connect that to other people. You don't have that role model and then you're doing a lot of things not right. So you think, like doing sales, oh my God, the customer is selling and you're forecasting it that it's closing and they're like far away because you didn't ask you have budget, what is your timeline? Who's your executive sponsor for that? So these things which you then learn in the hardcore, because it's like the sales management comes down on you and saying, hey, where are you and what you can do.

Nicole:

The last recent kind of change and I think a lot of us in technology went through it at the moment that's this kind of restructuring that's happening, where a lot of investments in tech companies shift, so you get actually restructured. Shift so you get actually restructured. In my mind, I was responsible in business application for low-code martech technology, fraud and mixed reality and they were like no, you're going and doing cross-solutions, so how do you take that on Now? We talked about having that expertise. Now you should be looking after the whole kind of end-to-end solution. How do you deal with that? It's not that they don't look for you for this expertise, but the go-to-market expertise.

Nicole:

And how do you deal with I don't know what's coming. You have these layoffs. Are you the next one? And how do you deal with that? Internally, to focus on what you can do, what is what you can influence, driving basically towards somebody else's vision. Before I, because of being expert, I had my vision and I could then tell that to my people down into Raleigh. And now you're there Okay, what is the vision? And you look up and you wait to come and it's like don't wait, build it out yourself, because that is really what is a leader about that you create that vision, that you create that clarity, that you're going through ambiguous situation and create energy, positive energy for your people, and to learn that. Yeah, so that was quite a big learning from my side recently.

Klara:

I love especially the last one you mentioned, Nicole, because I think there's many people nowadays going through the same the uncertainty and ambiguity, whether it is actually across the world, like the macroeconomic, the wars that are going on, the economic instability, the headwinds and tailwinds that people see in different industries, the turbulence within. I feel there's a lot of people that I see posts even online. There's just so much going on and it's hard to distill or filter through what their own focus should be, which is very similar to what you had described in the last role. So can you drill down a little bit more into that, Some of the learnings you have from that specifically, or what things you have implemented to thrive in that role?

Nicole:

The first thing I think you need to ask what is the vision of your higher people? In my sense, the VP and we were a completely newly founded department. Yeah, with a VP leader from outside coming into Microsoft and then some strong underneath people supporting that. So the GM level, I had new people. So learning, first of all, what are they thinking, where they want to go, a lot of talk and integration, understanding where they're coming from, because I think a lot of issues we are having is because of communication gaps, and it's not because you said something and I did. It's just both worlds, both sides, can actually be true. Yeah, because of that kind of upbringing.

Nicole:

So how do you get that communication going? How do you then, not only with your upper level management, but also with your team, how do you bring them along? And for me, things was like bringing them together on site. Unfortunately, we couldn't do that. So how can you, where actually in-person relationships are so important, how can you still create a sense of belonging when you're getting put together? So how do you build team morale? How do you bring them with you?

Nicole:

So having workshops together, just thinking about trying to solve a problem. So our first problem was what are the motions we should go after Microsoft, my God, the product palette is so wide. But what should we do? And we all had some kind of report history and where we worked into backward debt. So how can we bring that together? So it was brainstorming session, but then you need to look at it from a non-biased viewpoint, from a company perspective. What is the best impact? So what are the criteria you're setting? So you're building the plane while flying and trying to bring the people along with you. So it's a lot, a lot of communication, being very open. And I found it interesting because we were basically two parallel teams and I was very open. I said look, you came out from a product perspective X, y, z, we will not focus on your product. Do you want to be part of that great Microsoft investment, I think, the future and how we're doing, and you have great go-to-market expertise. But if that's not what you want, I help you getting another job.

Nicole:

So driving clarity. It sounds hard at that moment in time, but it gives them at least an option to say where do they want to go or not, instead of trying to soften that language. Oh yeah, let's see. It's actually, in my perspective, not necessarily good in the long run. So I think that driving clarity being not harsh, but clarity is really being friendly and employee friendly and then being there and help them. So for me, being authentic, saying, look, I'm here as well. I don't know yet what our mission will be, but we can drive it together.

Nicole:

And then taking time for yourself. You often so many meetings, stop that noise. Take that out, because you, as a leader, need to have a vision where you need to go. So take that time now. So what is it really what you want to go after? And then, what does it mean for the team to put that in place? And how should I run and it started in? How do I build the team? How should I get someone focused on what? What is our measurements? What are the operational structures I need to have in place?

Nicole:

While I might not need that much kind of structure because I can live with ambiguity, other people are not, and that is another question. It's like, can you live in that kind of ambiguous environment which is like doing strategy for incubation products or go to market Because, to be honest, if the company decides to de-invest in it, you're gone? So it's, how can you deal with risk. It has nothing to do with knowledge, it's character. It's really how much can you deal with it and how much can you say okay, if that's not, then it's the next product or the next thing, and I think that a lot of questions came around that. I think it comes down to really the values that you have, your own values and if that fits with the department or company value. And if you have that, I recently learned about that leadership within, because then you can water a lot of different kind of situations.

Klara:

I love so many things you already mentioned, just trying to prioritize what I want to touch on. I love you highlighting clarity. It reminded me a quote from I think it's Brené Brown, who said clear is kind, unclear is unkind, and I think that's such a great skill in business. I personally resonate with it too and maybe to some degree I'm almost too clear for a salesperson because I love to just understand the reality. I think if you don't know where we stand from reality perspective, you can draft a good clarity. So that's one thing I've been always pointing out.

Klara:

Is it because my athletic upbringing because, like in sports, you always have to know, like, what your plan is, and skiing is individual sport, it's like you racing against the clock so there's some sense of this clarity and reality.

Klara:

You know exactly what you did wrong. If you don't know, your coaches will tell you that with a clear precision of what you have to do. So I wonder how much of that maybe you even personally think sort of connected to it and also tying into the risk taking. So I'm curious now we talked about your skiing background and the playfulness and a lot of risk taking there, including your moves, that you have done. So how has that shaped you from risk taker? Or, if you want to drill down a little bit more, how would you categorize yourself? Because I also think like stability at least at this point in my life it's actually not as important. I just love doing like great audacious things that haven't been done, and having ambiguity and trying to figure things out is really thrilling for me and I judge based on listening to you, it's quite the same for you. That's obviously why you're probably in this group and trying to build all of this stuff, that innovation and trying to play with ideas and what fits is quite exciting.

Nicole:

I think actually two things and I would like to take it in two parts. So on the clarity and leadership, I think sometimes it's the culture, because as a German, you're very direct. Yeah, and you know you're direct. It's like, if you look at me, if you would have called me on a phone 15 years ago, or I would have called you, I would have been. I wouldn't have said hey, clara, how are you? Blah, blah, blah. I would just come to the point Can you help me on X, y, z? So that kind of very direct and giving very direct feedback.

Nicole:

I think it's a culturally thing as well that, compared with understanding what it takes, and while it is, it's actually uncomfortable for the person who says it. I think it's very brown. Clarity is kind because it makes you feel uncomfortable and, yes, maybe the other person at that point in time is a little bit shocked. But my experience of they're coming back at one point they're saying, yeah, no, it's good. And I have a former team member which I had to manage out and I found him another role and he still thinks I was his best manager. So it's like if I wouldn't have driven that clarity, it might be driven further down. But having these examples in front of you actually helps you, because people often they know these things. You know in your gut something is not right.

Nicole:

Yes. So it is that how can you build a trusted relationship where you can build on that trust and you can be open about that and being able to take the emotion as much as possible out of the equation and saying let's talk about that and going the next step. So that's just a little bit for me where I see that clarity and the upbringing comes a little bit, and then a lot of learnings and maybe having good role models who have done that. Then the other question I think that's actually more DNA perspective than anything else. I think when I look at my parents, my mom is the risk taker, my dad is more like not, and you will not change that. You have to have someone who pushes it.

Nicole:

And I think I'm, generally speaking, a risk taker but I also like to plan. So if I take the risk, what is then the planning around that? And I like new things, new innovation which overcomes that risk, and I think it's that why you know that inner, why what you need to have to be successful, and then overcoming some of the obstacles. It's like that moment in time okay, I feel like God, I'm out of my comfort zone, but I know I need to do that to be happy, because that is my higher grind. So I think that drives a lot around that. That is my higher grind, so I think that drives a lot around that. But for that you really need to know yourself and know what are your values, what you need to drive in life. Now I think over the time. So I had two jobs that I resigned because I was not happy without having anything else. So really high risk taking in that sense. But I believe something will come and actually always the next better thing and actually the next drive came.

Nicole:

But now I'm older, I have teenage girls, they need to go to university, so you're getting into like I'm eight years at Microsoft. I've never been that long beside my own company, along in a company. And then you look at, oh my God, the financial, the stock options that I have. So it's things starting to blur. The more you learn and I think the older you get, the less risks you take.

Nicole:

However, you feel it in yourself and that's why I think you need to sometimes go back to your values. So it's finding what are your values. And then do I live within the values that I need and you can go left and right a little bit, don't get me wrong and you always will be. It's not 100%, but if that's not, do I need to find another role or do I need to go and do something on the side to get that going? That is on how I think about these things, but I think it changes the older you're getting, because under learnings like teenagers you said it at the beginning you know teenagers doing so much crazy shit. I missed school a lot. I forged signatures. Oh my God. If I think about that, I would never do that again.

Klara:

Well, I have a few thoughts actually so many thoughts on what you said. One I want to go back to the thrill, because I wonder if this is the same for you. I think risk for anyone isn't pleasant, but what I personally find is the thrill of chasing and creating something and the innovation and so the whole messy process. It's so fun and messy sometimes and chaotic, but when you see the result, like the risk consideration just goes to the side because you get so focused on the creation and the fun part of it that drives joy. That kind of the risk-taking is then lower priority. I wonder if that's a similar feeling for you.

Nicole:

Yes, it is, and I think what I'm trying to get back to more what I enjoyed, I'm currently enjoying my path far more, but it's because I let myself go path far more, but it's because I let myself go. It's like just running towards that and not having that kind of goal. Because, to be honest, we've talked about my career. None of that was really planned like that. I took an opportunity and took it on. The thing was, when it offered it to me, I went for it.

Nicole:

But I never had, oh, I want to be this, and that I said at the beginning I wanted to be that strategic consultant. And now I am basically working in strategy but it wasn't. I want to get there. And then it's these and these steps. That's not me, but letting go and enjoying. And that's back to the experiences and what I think you put it on a point, it's the experience itself which drives me. And when I went into, oh, I need to get a VP, I need to get that, that's actually when I hardened in self and didn't enjoy, and I think that was when I wasn't that successful. Then when I that playful back like that child in, I think that's how I would describe it, but I think it's the same thing.

Klara:

Yeah, and I love you mentioning it One of the learnings I take from my tennis career. There's many, but one of the key ones. I would say if I didn't care about tennis as much, I could have been a better tennis player, which means sometimes you try so hard to where the trying hard creates diminishing impact because you're just pushing up the hill or you're overtraining that creates a whole bunch of injuries. And so one of the things and including why I have my podcast there's many reasons, but it creates this 15 to 30% of a separate identity for me and just like playfulness side to where I'm not just my job, I have like something else fun. So that's like me taking some of the learnings from tennis Cause I always felt like if I wanted to play tennis 15 to 20% less than I wanted to, I could have been a better athlete because I would end up doing less and that doing less allows you to be more flexible and adaptable.

Klara:

And I had exactly the same feelings, feelings when you kind of said earlier on in my career, or maybe not, that earlier midway through I was like, oh, I want to get this amount of money, I want to get this job, and I always found a way to get the title and get the money. And then I got it and said yeah, I'm not any happier, like it doesn't drive me satisfaction. I think it was like important for me to get those points because at that point in time I found it important and it was definitely a goal and obviously if I wouldn't have gotten there maybe I wouldn't have the learning I would still wanted those things. It helped me refine sort of my journey and how I look at next opportunities a little bit differently.

Nicole:

Oh, absolutely and I think age changes as well what you want to go after that learning. So definitely. On that I would say I'm typical in the midlife, maybe crisis, yeah, but my why? It's like 10 years ago I didn't think about retirement. Now I think how do I get there? I have like 15, 17 years left. But at one point I would like to hone into, I think when you're so stuck and so focused, I think you lose a little bit the listening to learn. You go to listen to argue. I know it, I need to showcase that and that is that what I think, what you described and train, I want to get that and you lose that playfulness and that learning and listening from others. I think that's what I would say happened to me at that point in time.

Klara:

You talked heavily about leadership. We talked about the several jobs you have had, the multicultural aspect, the clarity, importance of communication, taking risks. But when you look at your leadership specifically, are there specific instances that really helped you refine that leadership, maybe in the stage of where you're at now, or leaders you have had, or even leadership principles that you have found these work really well for me, if I have a team, this is what I share with the teams as far as how I operate.

Nicole:

The two main kind of leadership styles I have. Just naturally I think we have all within to be successful, but the two which I have mostly is the visionary leadership, or the leadership upfront is really driving that vision and then telling that and put your team along to that. And I think it's also down to inspiring them to get to where it goes and then putting it into building blocks so that they can actually what does that mean? Because if I say Microsoft mission is helping everybody to have a better work and place, et cetera, what does that mean? So that is then breaking it down and then getting them to work towards that and measuring towards. And I think the KPIs need to be often in place for them, because a lot of people actually need structure. And the second is, for me, that more coaching style, and behind so I have very senior people. They're all director level, so I don't need to teach them something. Sometimes you need to go back into the teaching mode, but I like the coaching side of the house.

Nicole:

So how do I ask the right question to help them solve a problem? To be honest, because we deal with a lot of problems. You have been in sales strategy as well. It's basically, you're constantly dealing with problems. How do you help them? Because that is how they learn and come together. And the third thing is, which I think is super, super important we're not doing enough. We don't celebrate success because we constantly talk about the problem and the negative and this is not working, that is not working. We forget actually what we achieved. So, looking back and celebrating success to really help the team but yourself, to create that kind of positive energy, and looking how much did you achieve? Because it's nothing operational, it's not a task list. Yes, the task list is nice. I really like them sometimes, but it's not with that higher kind of goal and mission that you would like to achieve. So that's the areas where I'm really good at what I think, where I need to learn more and where I think a lot of the sales strategists is because we're working in a very complex matrix organization and you cannot do it yourself. You need to have marketing, you have product group, you have customer success, you have the field, you have finance and you need to bring your ideas through.

Nicole:

So that kind of leadership from the side, or driving influence without authority, is a huge, huge aspect, and I think that is one of the things which I constantly work with the team on which I think is super important to be successful. But it's super hard because it's actually not looking at your own. What you want to achieve is looking at the other one, understanding where that is and finding that common ground and driving that through. And it's that, I think, is a hard thing. So that's for me, the area what I in my roles is super important, what is, for my team, important. What I don't like on leadership is leadership with fear. That is not where I thrive. The other one is super micromanaging and you're just basically getting told what to do. That is not an area where I lend well, because I'm quite strong headed.

Nicole:

And the last thing is really you need to be in the values. I'm going back in the values because that needs to shine through and when you're in your values, you're being authentic and you can build that trusted relationship. If you don't have that, trying to build that up and it's over time, it's not a thing that comes. People give you a certain kind of trust, so how do you not blow that? So have their back. Help them. You know getting up. Help them with executive presence. Everybody wants to grow, but being precise, help them, you know, getting up, help them with executive presence. Everybody wants to grow. But being precise, being short, very hard topic, you know, because we're working on 10 things but we want to say the 10 things, no, what are the three? So things like that which I think makes the difference from a leadership.

Klara:

I love leading values, something that Tim, actually all the top leaders always say that. I hear them talk about it. If you're true to your core values again, you'll be authentic and people will feel it. It will come out Celebrating success. I think it's super important. I so suck at Nicole. Do you have any tips? How do you celebrate success? I've been trying to establish especially the mini wins, because I don't celebrate anything big, but I think every day there should be something we should celebrate and I was thinking I'm going to celebrate this or that and I never do. Do you have any tips for that?

Nicole:

Yep, so I have Friday mornings, I have my team meeting and we start our team meeting on celebrating success and giving affirmation on somebody who has done that good, and then I ask them to send that to these people. That's a nice small tip.

Klara:

It also reminds people to reflect on the collaboration. So I actually think it probably helps with, like this, impactful leadership and kind of understanding what other people have goals and need to do, because I think that's a skill you can perfect forever. I think we're never perfect. It's like never ending continuum of growth in that but it probably helps with that too.

Nicole:

Yeah, but it also helps with, because we're always looking at the next problem but saying, hey, we have finished a pitch deck, let's celebrate that. You also let people know on what work you have done and you can do great work. If nobody knows about it, it's not impactful. Very true, can do great work.

Klara:

If nobody knows about it, it's not impactful, very true. So moving to leadership, maybe specifically to women, I know Microsoft is actually a great company when it comes to having many women in leadership positions, maybe one of the ones that people look at the most. When it comes to the diversity, from your vantage point, what are some of the things that we women can practice more or be better at? Again, you had vast experience in your own personal consulting, but also big companies through various different roles and cultures, so I'm even wondering from this I don't know if I can say no cultural perspective or kind of all cultures perspective. Maybe that's what it is that you've worked within, anything you have observed that stands out to you?

Nicole:

Yeah, I think we need role models for other roles in all kind of leadership roles and even outside of leadership, just showing up as potentials.

Nicole:

I give you a good example. You talked about Microsoft. When I was at Microsoft New Zealand, we had the head of Microsoft New Zealand was female and she had females in her leadership team. None of them had kids. When I look at the other side at Microsoft US and corporate and you look there, so, from Amy Hood, who has kids, the CFO, from our chief people officer, who's actually a single mom yeah, the next level, you have woman, but woman with kids.

Nicole:

So, something which I found important I always wanted to make a career and have kids and it's actually not that easy, and everybody who wants to talk more about it ping me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to share. But it's like having these role models is, I think, good for me. That's the first thing. Then, being open, and let me tell you an example being open and driving girls through doing different things. When my girls were in school in New Zealand, they were in a private progressive school. Yes, it was private, but they started coding in grade two and they took from the school part in robotics competition and my oldest actually went twice to the New Zealand national competition from 10 years on.

Nicole:

We have a Lego robot at home. We have a 3-3 printer at home. She built that in the robotics club we moved to Germany. There was a robotics club boys only she didn't feel included, probably knew far more about the robots itself, but since then this topic is dead and the robot is in the garage sitting there. So we need these kinds of things. So there is an interest and there are people there, but we need to open it up and I'm not a fan of quotas for women in leadership etc.

Nicole:

But maybe we need it and I would encourage every woman who does something. Don't stay with yourself and saying I'm good, talk about it, share it, because I'm pretty sure you inspire other women to follow and think okay, it can be done and I can have a life that fulfills me and I can give that to my further kids and for all the dads who are listening If you have children and girls, think about what model you want to have for your girls. If you want to have these kind of old boys club, which we're seeing a lot in companies still there, but it needs to be changed, I think, from down there.

Klara:

I love that you mentioned it. If I can actually pause and drill a little bit deeper, because I have been thinking about this for quite a while and I personally am not finding the answer to it and I feel the same way. I love seeing women thrive and powerful leaders obviously having conversations with amazing leaders like you and many others I have recently had on the podcast too, and so the more I see women thriving in whatever they choose to thrive at, whatever industry or business or profession or sports, it's just fantastic and I think to myself why my brain just wants to see this, and I'm also tempted always to see how they're doing things, see what I can borrow and adapt and how they're going about things. Do you think men are the same? Because you obviously have a household of women, or maybe even from women perspective, why do you think we're so driven towards seeing other women thrive as an inspiration for our own greatness and next progress? I think we are different to men.

Nicole:

I believe we are far more emotional. Now we can argue is it the upbringing or not? I don't know.

Klara:

But I definitely think or it could be the hormonal cycle we actually just talked about it with one of my friends. I think that goes into it too. So I think it's both.

Nicole:

But I think there is a difference just really from our DNA and how we build up, and I think we work differently, we think differently. Yeah, it's like when I explain where you want to go, I talk more in pictures. Hey, here at the house, with the green light, you know, with that green kind of things, that's where you're not in 200 meters you need to go right. So I think think there was difference on how we talk, I think. So that's the first thing. I think we have far more what I would call imposter syndrome. That's maybe more the upbringing. Yeah, so that when we're seeing other women, we can say, okay, if they have done it, we can do it as well.

Nicole:

But I read the other day a statistic or someone told me you see, you have female founders, like having a hair salon, having this, but not big corporations. So why is that? I think, from an inspiring and seeing the way somebody has done it and you could actually could talk, I would love for people coming more to me and ask me, because I definitely am afraid to ask people for help and I think we need to come over as strong being as women and you're getting drawn that if you want to have a career and there's so much more which people can help you and being that vulnerable, I found that so refreshing, having seen that, and that is helping a lot as well. That is helping a lot as well where I think we women actually again since I had women leaders who were very more like ice cold, like you would say they trying to be male leaders and getting even more male than them, and then it's really hardcore.

Klara:

That's what I don't like but, I don't have the answer yeah, the leadership styles are definitely just another thing to get into and I've seen all sides.

Klara:

I actually think sometimes, because there's so few women, the higher up you go, the more you risk being so perfect and so strict, to where you become more sometimes like hardcore, as you mentioned almost more on the side than men, just because I think we put our own standards and we lose a little bit of what we talked about earlier, like the playfulness. So that's what I have seen actually some other leaders like how do you maintain this playfulness and just shake things off easier? We talked actually about that a little bit with Eve, my other guest on the podcast, who also works at Microsoft. She had some fantastic tips. So maybe last couple of questions to close off with, 2024 is here. We talked about all the turbulent times actually that are going on on all fronts, anything you would want to share with listeners, that you would want to inspire them to be doing more of or less of, even, maybe, things that you're trying out nowadays and that are working out for you.

Nicole:

The world is changing so much. So, being open, listen to learn, and regardless of the situation you're in, and don't listen to argue or think you know it all. We are all not perfect perfect and we can improve. And especially as so many new technologies coming in and we Germans are always no, no, no, no, no, especially there Try to understand the perspective of the other person's half and if they could be learning for you and us, and I think then the world would be more nice and it actually can shortcut your career. But I think also, from where we are with the world, politics, et cetera, we would have a nicer place.

Klara:

Excellent and from technology perspective that made me think about your answer technology Anything you're personally excited about, nicole.

Nicole:

I'm thinking a lot about how AI can change and how we think about go-to-market. I actually think CRM systems will probably be disruptive because actually nothing has changed. We have still the same process, but it's not the same linear process. Customers go like that and I think there we will see disruption on how AI can change design and go to market and how can we listen, use data to actually predict that.

Klara:

I think that's where I'm excited about to learn and I'm digging into All that and what you had mentioned earlier about CRM, I can see how that would potentially drastically change the way business is done, strategies created and companies operate, because that literally lies on the intersection of data and all of the other decisions that the business needs to make and execute on. Yeah and.

Nicole:

I think also we were. If you look at that, we were having very on-prem. We went into cloud with subscription. I think the world is moving with AI far more into consumption, which means previously, if you think of technology sales cycle, you had a little bit of marketing, heavy sales and then a little bit customer success. The marketing side goes more into sales. Customer success is getting more important because you're only getting paid if they consume. So that will change a lot as well, I like those predictions.

Klara:

Maybe we need to do a separate podcast on that. I didn't create enough time. That sounds super exciting, so what's the best way to reach out to anyone who wants to connect? Nicole, I'll add your LinkedIn profile to the episode with your permission, but is there any other way to follow you or email you?

Nicole:

the best is really linkedin. Send me a connect request, mention the podcast and actually I have my email address and the contact details is open. Yes, you can send me an email then from there as well, but start with linkedin. That's where it's the easiest way to find me excellent.

Klara:

Well, thank you so much for the time and your conversation, nicole. It was great learning about your Grand Slam journey from Germany skiing to being the leader at Microsoft, perhaps changing the world with AI and CRM and software management platforms. So I'm curious what's going to come out next.

Nicole:

Yeah, thank you, clara, for having me, if you enjoyed this episode.

Klara:

I want to ask you to please do two things that would help me greatly. One, please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts, spotify or any other podcasting platform that you use to listen to this episode. Two, please share this podcast with a friend who you believe might enjoy it as well. It is a great way to remind someone you care about them by sharing a conversation they might be interested in. Thank you for listening.

Visionary Leadership and Styles
Skiing Experiences and Gender Dynamics
Balancing Family, Career, and Life
Career Progression in CRM and Sales
Lessons From Career Challenges and Successes
Building Team Morale and Leadership Clarity
Leadership Styles and Career Transitions
Leadership Principles and Success Celebration
Gender Equality in Leadership and Parenting
Leadership and Technology Trends With Nicole