Melanie Moske

Melanie Moske is the Chief Digital Officer of Weng Fine Art AG.

She is an art historian and an expert in digital business models and marketing, with a focus on the digital transformation of the art market. Before joining WFA, Moske held a senior position at the leading digital consultancy Etribes, where she designed, implemented and scaled digital business models for medium-sized and international companies; she is also the current head of their alumni group. Prior to this, she was responsible for online marketing of digital living media at Germany’s largest magazine publisher Gruner+Jahr. Melanie is a native of Frankfurt am Main, and studied art history and business administration at the University of Hamburg, where she is currently based.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I grew up in Frankfurt, Germany and was always interested in art and economics, which I then studied at the University of Hamburg. During my studies I had the first contact with the digital sector when I started working as a SEO Manager for Europe’s largest publisher house. After three years, I started working as a tech consultant for Etribes. When I started, there were only 10 people working there, and now it’s one of the most important digital consultancies in Germany with over 100 employees. And this August, I took up a new role that combines my passions for art, technology and finance as the Chief Digital Officer at Weng Fine Art, the most valuable art trading company in Europe. It’s an incredibly exciting position: WFA is the only German art trading company that has a CDO, and we are working to pioneer new digital business models for the art market. These range from an online marketplace, Weng Contemporary, that sells editions by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei to bold investments in art market data and new blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have never actively planned my career. What I rather do is reflecting on things I like about my work and things that I don’t like. The book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans completely changed the way I see this process. It introduces a way of applying design thinking to the circumstance around you. There are certain things that you can influence, but others you cannot. They call them “gravity problems” – whatever you do, these circumstances will never change. In your job, this can be your boss or the company’s business model. So, when I reflect on my job, I analyse which parts I don’t like and if I can change them. If yes, I try to optimize these things – if I learn I cannot change a certain aspect which is important to me, I take action and leave.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I faced a thousand challenges. The biggest one was probably to overcome my own fears and step out of my comport zone. I used to be quite afraid of doing something wrong, which lead to me being ignorant, defensive and sometimes even angry. At some point, I learnt that being unsure or getting things wrong is totally normal and fine. When you start asking questions and admit that you don’t always know the answer, then all of a sudden, the world gives them to you. With this, I learned not just to overcome my fears and progress in my career, but I also received a lot of love and support from colleagues and friends.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I only took up my role at WFA a few months ago, so I hesitate to take credit yet for any achievements there. But at my previous job at Etribes, the company merged with a large e-commerce agency in 2018 and all of a sudden, the agency’s employees lost their orientation and we as a group didn’t have a team feeling. So in order to strengthen the team, I started a project to identify our company values together with representatives of all the departments. When I presented our results, my colleagues were touched: they found themselves in these values and all of a sudden there was a common ground. Still today, these values play an important role for the company – during the hiring process, for strategic decisions and for end-year feedback sessions.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Never stop asking questions: for me, its key to be kind and open to people, trying to understand and connecting the dots.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Question your beliefs as often as you can. Read, listen, ask, discover – challenge your ideas, try to find other solutions, and most importantly, connect with others that are in the same work.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I have been lucky enough to always have had people around me who encouraged me to stand up, ask for things, and really fight for the things that I deserve – like every other male colleague. I try to encourage this attitude with the women I work with too. In the end, it makes everyone stronger.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Mainly, it is to be open to other ways of working. In my field, the executive managers are often used to working with people that are focused on things like sales, marketing metrics, and monetary success. Women are more often likely to be looking at other aspects too. Most of my bosses were only thinking about sales and margins – but creating a good vibe within the team made us more productive than any overtime.

There are currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Tech is not a branch – it is our everyday life. Women need to be more involved in the industry to take an active part in our future. I would start by having more examples of successful women working in tech, and educating young girls from kindergarten through to university about the industry as a possible career path.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, lots of Ted Talks – and connecting on LinkedIn!