Mums Who Lead: Alina Utsch
Mums Who Lead is our campaign that explores how working mums are breaking the bias that mums can’t handle leadership positions. In 2016, a Credit Suisse report showed that organisations with women in executive positions see “superior sales growth, high cash flow returns on investments and lower leverage”.
There is also this bias that women are emotional and can’t handle the stress of being in a decision making role.
To break these biases, we introduce to you Alina Utsch.
Alina Utsch is a team leader at Deutche Telekom Technik. She has two kids, one under 2 and a 5 year old. She has 6 people under her in her team, and works in the technical side of sales within her organisation.
What have been your challenges as a working mum in a leading position?
I basically work in a very male dominated area (on one hand technical, but also close to sales departments), so my counterparts in my organisation are almost always men. I work hard to not to be seen as the office ‘mummy’.
My role requires a lot of internal negotiations, often handling internal conflicts of interests in order to deliver in time and high quality to our customers but at the same time to avoid over-promising. I still sometimes have a feeling that being tagged as the woman with kids could weaken the way my partners and team members perceive me.
This means’ hiding’ the kids while being in home office so that they don’t run into the camera.
Have you ever had to prove yourself better than your male counterparts?
Every day I am proving myself and trying to beat the imposter syndrome in me. There are situations like speaking up in call or meeting, using the right arguments, small things where as a woman you need to demonstrate that you actually belong here. A man can allow himself mistakes or being emotional and he will be still taken seriously by the group or even get credit for that as being extra dedicated. A women can’t – she will end up as weak.
Do you struggle with mom guilt?
Sometimes, for instance, if I am thinking how should I make pancakes in the morning or bring the kids to various sports classes in the afternoon – things that full time mums do… But then I realize: we are just a different family, a bit more chaotic but the kids will hopefully end up just fine.
How do you manage work-life balance and home responsibilities?
With my husband! We are a real team. It’s not that ‘he supports me’. This would sound like household would be my primary responsibility and he is just helping out.
We are both having this family and are equally engaged in the household. Child care is my husband’s main responsibility, as he works fewer hours than I do. Is my house clean and is there a warm dinner every night? No it’s not but I found a way to accept it. As a woman you will not reach perfection on every field of your life. If I choose to be committed to my team and career, I have to arrange myself with a house being cleaned less often then the one of a full time housewife.
What would be the ideal work culture or organisational structure for working mums?
Simple: more women in leadership positions, in all the relevant areas for a company, also those technical or in my case corporate sales. There are areas where informal structures and work order have been shaped by men in the past. Women are now entering those spaces. The atmosphere of proving and maintaining power can only change if more women are sustainability part of the decision making group. I have to add, that my employer already has a very good work-life balance offer, home office, reasonable working hours were already standard before coronavirus, this helped me and other women in my organization a lot in the past and I wouldn’t change that.
More women in business – and more gender equality in childcare – isn’t another factor of life that women need to take on alone. Companies need to shift their policies to provide a working culture that allows women to thrive. Once they do, they will start reaping rewards – and so will our society.
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