Having been with Software AG since 2011, Anneliese Schulz was recently promoted to be the youngest ever President of Asia Pacific and Japan. Based in Singapore, she is responsible for spearheading Software AG’s business operations and growth across the region.
Could you talk me through your career journey?
I began my career working in Marketing at Siemens Enterprise Communications and then at SAP in Germany. At this stage, I didn’t quite understand the Software world and just how many opportunities it would create across the many industries. I was convinced to move into Sales early in my career by someone who saw the potential in me but had a challenging transition; I couldn’t relate to being a salesperson and felt the function had somewhat of a negative image, therefore I was cautious in the beginning and had to take the time to really understand what Sales is.
What have been the biggest challenges over your career and did you ever feel that your gender played a part in those?
We have grown and are continuing to grow quickly, which brings about multiple challenges to my role as President, one of which is to maintain sustainable growth while bringing the organisation to the next level. By leaning on different sources to create great concepts, my core focus is to implement a strong sales cadence in the organisation and ensure that we have a strong culture, something I am very passionate about. While the role is demanding and requires frequent travelling, seeing the direct impact our organisation has on our staff and customers gives me much satisfaction.
In my opinion, my gender has never stood in my way, although sometimes my age is being considered too young. I think my curiosity and drive to push myself have overcome potential challenges linked to me being female. I had all the same challenges that most have when they are starting out their careers – trying to find my place in a changing world and a role that challenged me.
How did you go about overcoming these challenges?
I am quite impatient when it comes to learning as I’m always curious on how to grow and how things work. This created a drive for me to be more open to trying things, even ones that most people wouldn’t want to do, and it’s that drive which saw me move across different functions within software companies and gave me a broad understanding of how to deliver to a customer.
On top of that, I also try my best to balance between work and rest, working hard on the weekdays and making sure I rest and exercise during the weekends, so I can prepare myself for the next week.
What do you look for when hiring leaders? Anything in particular when it comes to female leaders?
First of all, I always look for traits rather than skills. The ability to learn fast and to be adaptable are two things I look for in any hire. Leaders need to be able to grow sustainably and create an inclusive culture. I think being a female leader helps to attract other females and we have some really great female role models in Software AG.
What would your advice be to a potential future female leader on how to be successful?
Be ready to try different things and don’t worry too much about not knowing what you want from your career, experiment a bit to find out what works for you. Also, keep an open mind when it comes to things you don’t know and be comfortable asking questions or for help, people won’t value you less for showing vulnerability. Lastly, find a networking style that works for you and put some time into it.