2/14/2023 Next generation Interview embedded world
Inspire, attract and retain embedded systems specialists
How do you get young people excited about an industry that not everyone immediately has on their radar? Magdalena Daxenberger has some fascinating answers to that. In addition to her role as Marketing & Innovation Manager at DH electronics, she has founded her own start-up and is active on the advisory board of the embedded world Exhibition&Conference. So she is just the right person to talk to about the next generation of the embedded community.
Making the embedded industry interesting for young and talented people
Inspiring young talent for embedded systems
You studied electrical engineering in a dual study program and are now responsible, among other things, for innovation management at DH electronics. What excites you about the embedded industry?
Magdalena Daxenberger: I'm particularly excited about the wide range of applications for embedded systems and the enormous potential in terms of sustainability. Whether this be in traditional mechanical and plant engineering, building and industrial automation, or in eMobility and healthcare: with the help of smart embedded solutions, energy can be saved in many areas and completely new possibilities start to open up, such as electromobility.
In addition, the embedded industry is very fast-moving with new technologies, products and services constantly coming onto the market. As an innovation manager, I find it challenging and exciting at the same time to identify and adopt new trends early on.
What do you think is needed to get young people interested in the embedded industry? There are many other industries out there that are also competing for the best students and trainees.
Daxenberger: In the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) we in Germany still have some catching-up to do, which has various structural and social reasons. I think that the embedded sector still lacks visibility and role models. Occupational descriptions are often difficult for young people to grasp.
In the first instance it could help to present the everyday working life of embedded developers, product managers, project managers, etc. in a way that young people can relate to. Even during school, but also in parallel to training and other studies, I think internships in companies are very helpful in order to introduce young professionals to jobs in the embedded industry at an early stage.
In addition, we should not forget that it is not essential to study electrical engineering or computer science to start a career in the embedded industry. Talented people with an interest in technology are also in demand in the areas of data science, marketing, innovation and HR. No matter what the industry, it is important for employers to recognize and respond to the wishes and needs of young people. Today, many value an employer with a commitment to sustainability and diversity, a clear vision, and with a flexible working hours model.
This is where your start-up InnovateTheAlps by Alpioneers comes into play. Can you tell us a bit more about this hackathon and the idea behind it?
Daxenberger: Generation Z in particular is very concerned about social, ecological and economic sustainability, and they expect their employers to do the same. With InnovateTheAlps by Alpioneers, I organize events that bring students and young professionals together with companies from the Alpine region who are working for greater sustainability.
At the hackathon, diverse teams spend a whole weekend developing solutions for corporate sustainability challenges and present them at a pitch competition. In this way, participants can apply their theoretical knowledge in a meaningful way, connect with others, get to know companies and their fields of activity, and at the same time make contacts for potential career entry. A win-win situation for all involved.
What experiences have you had as a start-up founder? Can you share a few tips with us?
Daxenberger: InnovateTheAlps was born out of my passion for entrepreneurship, innovation as well as the Alpine region. I want to make a difference for more sustainability and give more visibility to companies that are already commited to making a positiv impact with regard to sustainability. As an innovation manager, I am well aware of the importance of diverse teams for creativity and innovation and therefore invite students to come together with companies from many different industries. This sets the scene for creative ideas, lots of discussions and an immensely inspiring atmosphere.
Basically, I would advise everyone to look for a subject that is close to his or her heart and that you are really passionate about, according to the motto "Start with why". Then I would recommend that you just get going, gaining experience and, if necessary, making mistakes and thus always developing the business idea further.
The choice of co-founders and cooperation partners should also be carefully considered.
Finally, I would like to encourage everyone who is thinking about starting a business to simply give it a try. Every idea that is actually implemented and doesn't remain just an idea can make our world a little bit better. Moreover, the learning curve of a start-up is very steep and you quickly learn a lot for life.
Retaining skilled workers in the embedded industry
We have already talked about how to awaken the curiosity and enthusiasm of junior staff members. What does it take to retain (young) professionals in a company?
Daxenberger: In my opinion, it is essential to recognize the needs of the team and to try to fulfill them in the best possible way. That sounds simple at first but is often not so easy in practise, because everyone has very different needs. Since there is no single solution that fits all employees, the key to satisfaction is certainly flexibility.
By this I mean, that on the one hand, the working time model (part-time/full-time, flexitime, job sharing, sabbatical) and on the other the place of work (home office, work-from-anywhere) should be as flexible as possible. Parents in particular can benefit enormously from this and can often better reconcile the needs of family and career in this way - the home office has now become indispensable for many. Perhaps the tech industry will find it somewhat easier to adapt to "New Work", as it is used to constant change.
It is also beneficial to offer the most diverse development opportunities possible and to create opportunities for lifelong learning.
A clear corporate vision can help to bind employees to the company in order to work together to fulfill that vision. Many talented young people expect companies to commit to sustainability, diversity and equality. Here, it is important for companies to take their commitment seriously. Greenwashing is (fortunately) quickly spotted today for what it is.
Networking event #women4ew and the next generation at embedded world
In your role as an embedded world advisory board member, you are currently promoting the new #women4ew format. Why is this topic so important to you and what do you hope to achieve with this event?
Daxenberger: I am really looking forward to the new #women4ew format at embedded world 2023, with which we plan to connect women in the embedded industry. My personal goal as a member of the advisory board is to advocate for more diversity in the embedded industry in general and increased visibility of #WomenInTech in particular.
Inspiring young girls and women to have a closer look at the embedded industry during their career orientation is close to my heart. Unfortunately, many of them do not even think of starting their career in this field, what has multiple reasons. This lack of awareness may be due to outdated role models and stereotypes in our society, a school system that often offers technical subjects such as computer science only as optional subjects at most, and the poor reputation of technical subjects in general.
There is certainly a lack of female role models to convey to young talented people that: "The embedded world is exciting and you can find your place here" I would like to be part of this movement not only because I will then not be the only woman in the room so often, but also because it has been proven that in diverse teams we develop more innovative solutions and companies can ultimately be more successful economically as a result.
As skilled labour shortage will hit companies harder in the next years, we quite simply cannot afford to do without female talent. I hope that sooner rather than later this will get through to those who persist in questioning the expertise of women on the basis of their gender.
With a number of expert panels on the topic of diversity and the planned networking event #women4ew, I think that embedded world is taking a very important step in the right direction, and I'm happy to support it.
With the Student Day, the Start-up Area and a new Instagram channel, embedded world is clearly focusing on the next generation. How important do you think these platforms are for the embedded community?
Daxenberger: Making the embedded industry more tangible, bringing it to life and demonstrating real-life use cases are important steps toward attracting more talented people to the industry. Furthermore, the Student Day is an excellent opportunity to learn more about embedded products and services but also about job opportunities in the embedded industry. The trade fair offers great possibilities to connect to people from different companies.
The Start-up Area paves the way for young companies to participate in an international trade fair. This benefits not only the start-ups themselves, but also established companies that can exchange ideas and be inspired by the innovative start-up spirit. In some cases, start-ups and larger companies join forces to exploit synergies.
Supporting the exhibition via social media seems to me to be an absolutely logical step. If you want to appeal to young talent, you have to be present where they are (digitally). In addition to LinkedIn, Instagram would certainly be a good choice for this, and TikTok could also become relevant in the coming years.