much. Chats: An Interview with Nadja Planic

May 28, 2024

We’re back with a new interview in our series! As a recap, we invited several members of our team for a series of interviews, where we dive into their thoughts on working in consultancy, on working at much., and much more!

This time we invited Nadja Planic, our Head of Manufacturing, to sit down for a chat and share her story in her own words.

Nadja is not only a key part of our Consulting operations at much. as she spearheads our Manufacturing department from the Munich office, she is also a valued member of our team. She talked to us about her career, making her mark as a woman in a male-dominated field, her approach to empower a team and even the reason behind starting an office Girls’ Night. Here’s what Nadja had to say:

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

That’s difficult because I never had one specific goal, but so many interests… Even when I had to decide what to study, it was like “Oh damn”. But for me it was always going to be IT. I had my first computer when I was 8, and that’s when I started to work with them. It was also a little based on my father. My father always told me that as a woman, I had to learn something that I could use and not be dependent on anybody. IT for me was interesting because it’s made of riddles, like programming – it’s like how can I solve that? Also making things – I built my first PC when I was like 12. So I would say it was always IT, but it took me some time to decide what I actually wanted to do.

So how did you end up in consultancy? What was the leadup to be where you are as Head of Manufacturing in IT Consulting?

It was pure coincidence to be honest because I started to study Economics, and was actually more into Marketing. I started dual studies here in Germany,  where you work and study, and I had to search for a company that would take me in as a working student. And I ended up at an IT startup. And for me, it was the first time where I got more into IT and it showed me that this liking of IT is something that I should pursue. I got positive reinforcement that it’s not  all in my head, and I do have this knowledge to get somewhere. Basically, I started off as a Marketing student and ended up as a Product Manager.

It was a lot of finding myself… for a little background, I was really shy and introverted, and I didn’t believe in myself. I spent a lot of time working on myself to find the confidence to do what I wanted to do. IT was always where the boys were at, it was a space for white men. And as a woman, I had to think about how I could go there and make a change. It was a lot of “should I do it, is it realistic that I have the talent and knowledge to make it?”. But as I grew stronger in my mindset, it became easier to make this decision. 

Also, I never finished up Marketing because my dad passed away… and that was my tipping point to realise that life is too short. I shouldn’t do stuff that I don’t want to do. So I went through with IT and proved that it was the right decision.

When you were making that transition to IT, what advice would you give to a younger Nadja in that position?

Take your time, enjoy life. I was rushing through some stages of my life and when I look back, I think… maybe I should have enjoyed the experience more. But I have to say, I wouldn’t change anything because it made me who I am today. It’s also what I say to my Juniors, don’t rush. Take your time and learn your stuff so you have the base. It’s like building a house, if you don’t have a strong foundation in which you’re building on, you’ll have issues at some point. So don’t rush through things. 

Take your time and learn your stuff so you have the base. It’s like building a house, if you don’t have a strong foundation in which you’re building on, you’ll have issues at some point. So don’t rush through things. 

How did you transition to a Team Lead? What are the best skills to thrive in our industry and how do you support your Juniors to achieve that? 

One skill is definitely knowledge – you have to know how to address a situation, understand a process. But that’s all book knowledge, at some point you can sit down and learn it. The second thing may sound a little silly but you’re the main point of contact for your customer on a daily basis. At some point, your customer will also have frustrations. So we also have to have soft skills, like empathy so that you can sit down and get your points across while having an understanding for your customer and giving them support. But it’s not all about how to handle the customers. In the team, I don’t have to know everything – I have to make optimal usage of my team’s knowledge. That’s what gives you the support needed to do your job. It’s a bit like being a therapist for your customer, a lot of teamwork and also managing yourself. 

At the end of the day, I always tell my Juniors that as long as you’re doing your best, that you can tell me you did your best and tried everything – even if you do something wrong, I will never be mad. Because you tried your best and that’s all I can ask for. I basically try to be the person I needed when I started working.

Moving on to the topic of much., which one of our values do you resonate with the most?

Inclusive. It represents my wish to include everybody, to be able to cater to everybody who’s in my team and other teams. That’s why I have girls’ nights here at much., because girls also need a place where they can be open. It sounds exclusive but reflects more inclusivity – like for when the girls discuss with their teammates, they prepare with me. 

You know the picture where there’s three people looking through a fence? You can put a step of the same size for every person but because they’re different heights, some will be more benefitted than others. It’s the difference between equality and equity, we don’t always start off on the same foot and we need to adjust.

Where do you see the industry in 5-10 years? What will be the key skills for the near future?

We have to think about AI and how we’ll see greater automation when it comes to Development. That part will definitely see a break, a lot of changes. What also will definitely change is Consulting. Consulting is still a part that you can’t automate, you still need the knowledge. 

Where I see potential is that we will have even more Women in Consulting. I think consulting is the ultimate job for women. We have the capacity to multitask, and we have empathy. So we have the capacity to go into a meeting and give the customer the feeling of not only “Oh, I have someone who knows how to configure my system” but also someone who can tackle their day-to-day business to give them security and advice. This should be pushed more in university, to give younger girls the notion that consultancy is not an exclusive mens’ industry anymore. This is currently rising, but it could still be better.

 I see potential in having even more Women in Consulting. We have the capacity to multitask, we have the know-how, and we have empathy. This should be pushed more in university, to give younger girls the notion that consultancy is not an exclusive mens’ industry anymore.

What’s a long-term ambition that you have?

At some point, I would like to support animal shelters. That’s one of my passions, I love animals. And I would like to have an animal shelter that I support – not only with money – but also by working there sometimes. So just to have a balance between working and doing good for others. 

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