Naomi Owusu

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

I started my career in tech after university as a Project Manager at a software company called Kupferwerk which was later sold to After Kupferwerk, I worked as a freelance digital media consultant before I moved on to starting my current company, Tickaroo along with my 3 other co-founders. In my current role, I hold the position of CEO at Tickaroo and I’m responsible for business strategy and growth. Tickaroo provides a Live-blogging SaaS solution for news publishers and media corporations that enables them to share breaking news in fast, efficient and bitesized manner.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not at all. I found out that I was a bit of problem solver as I was always focused on finding solutions for all types of problems that I encountered. This actually kind of lead me to where I am now, endlessly looking for tangible solutions for whatever problems come my way. At University, I actually studied education and psychology, so tech was not where I thought I would end up.

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

I am my biggest critic and always think a few steps ahead in order to make sure that I have the right approach for taking on issues and tasks. In the past, this at times had led to some misunderstandings with my co-workers born out of the frustration of things not going the way they were supposed to.

I know now that I have to explain my aims more clearly and break these goals down into smaller and more tangible chunks. I’m now also in the habit of actively mentoring others around me and giving them the opportunities to learn and establish their own ways of working which is something that I very much encourage. I think on the one hand impatience can be a good thing, especially in the beginning of a company, it gets the ball rolling and can drive a team to stay on track. But as a company grows, it can also become an obstacle.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It is probably starting Tickaroo, as we started without any investment and we are now Germany’s market leader in live blogging and content delivery. For me, the development of our software and seeing where the company is now at is very much my biggest achievement to date.

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

Never giving up. Seeing obstacles as an opportunity to learn and to grow personally, but also as a team is what’s giving us great success. We have a great team!

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

Try new things, always! Broadening your horizons is the key to growth. If someone says to you that your idea is too progressive, you are on the right path. Just wait for the right timing. If you have an idea that you are passionate about, go for it, and find the right people that can help you execute your plans. Most importantly, Stay true to yourself. This way you do not have to sell yourself short. In the end business is all about growth.

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

I can only speak for myself from my experience, but I believe that the abilities of women continue to be chronically underestimated. It took us 5 years to find an investor. It turns out that was not such a bad thing after all because we had to bootstrap for 5 years, which made the company more resilient and self-sufficient. But giving easier access to venture capital for women would help. If more investors believed in companies run by women, and if women had more opportunities to lead tech companies, i feel like this would inspire more women and make it easier for them to break into the tech industry more easily.

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

I get the impression when a man starts working at a company in tech, it’s easier for them to find a mentor. Someone who is able to share guidance, expertise and access to a network. I often times feel like women are on their own. Frankly, because there are not as many of us in the industry. Therefore, it would be great for more companies to provide mentorship schemes for women in an effort to make them feel supported and valued. This could also go a long way to gain employee loyalty and really build a culture of inclusivity. Lastly, employ more women! Although this goes without saying.

There are currently only 21 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?

One thing that must happen is that more decision makers need to take their own goals into account during the hiring process. If they were to reflect on what ideal applicants have actually achieved, what skills they bring to the table, and what short, mid, and long term goals this applicant should be able to help the company accomplish, then I truly believe that the numbers will balance themselves out. No magic. Just simple reflection.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

One book I would like to recommend to women in tech is one by Ben Horowitz called ‘Hard things about hard things’. But above all what I would recommend is to seek and establish a network of people who believe in you and that will challenge you to also be the best you can be.

Extra thoughts:

In a world where we deal with complex interdependencies, we need more perspectives to solve complex challenges. I think it is very important to diversify the workforce in order to get different perspectives for problem solving. If you only employ people who have similar perspectives or mindsets you will always react similarly to challenges and maybe limit your ability to learn as fast as the world is changing.