Putting People First: Catching up With Our New Head of People & Culture, JudithMitte News
It’s only been four months since Judith joined the People & Culture team and she has already left her mark.
With her passion for people, her experience in talent development and her drive to champion people projects, she not only sets the company up for success but she helps navigate Mitte’s upcoming stages of growth.
Find out more about Judith’s journey to Mitte, her thoughts about diversity and what she likes the most about her role.
You just recently started as Head of People & Culture. What made you decide to join Mitte?
When I decided to move on from my role at my previous company, I very thoroughly thought about what would be next for me. I wrote down what was important to me in terms of Values, Vision, Team, Product and Role. When the opportunity at Mitte opened up, pretty much all of those points were a match for what I was looking for – especially in terms of Values – so, it was very easy for me to say YES!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Currently it’s still very much about getting an overview of what is already in place, and what might be useful to add in order to set Mitte up for the next stage of growth.
I am very lucky to have the support of an already strong People and Culture team and a great Leadership team that I trust, so from where we are now, I imagine it to be a challenging, but a fun and exciting journey to success.
In a scale-up like Mitte, my team and I look to implement the necessary building blocks that support a strong company culture – for example, a framework for personal and professional growth, learning and development, establishing a healthy feedback culture, hiring great people and along the way, we want to make Mitte the number one water company globally.
What do you enjoy most about working at Mitte?
Well, from a company perspective: being able to make an impact in a purpose-driven water startup that cares about their people, the planet and their product! On a personal level though, this will be a chance to also learn many new things: what does it actually take to bring a hardware product to the market, and then once it’s on the market, how does the organization need to adapt to keep things running smoothly? Exciting!
What are your thoughts on diversity and what is your biggest piece of advice to ensure diverse recruiting?
When I think about the term “diversity”, despite the fact that it can be used as bit of a buzzword, I think about different gender, religion, cognitive diversity, sex, skin color, cultural diversity etc., which for me should be something that’s the norm. I personally think that’s the way an organisation should look like. But we all know it’s not always the case and there is a whole lot to be done, a whole lot to be learned, unlearned, and some things that really need to change for the better.
So to keep it simple some good first steps might be:
A) Take a look at your organisation and realize what diversity, inclusion and belonging actually mean to you and your company’s leaders, and understand why it is important.
B) Do the numbers to know where you stand: for example you can look at gender balance, nationalities, diversity in leadership positions, the number of diverse candidates in your recruiting funnel, do you have people who are differently abled, etc
C) Review company processes and policies in place (hiring process, promotions, salaries, company branding, feedback etc) and make sure they’re fair to all concerned. And if not, adapt!
D) Take a stand and set a target that you’d like to reach and make sure everyone gets educated along the way and buys into that mission – it has to be pushed by the entire organisation or a task force, not a single person.
E) Give it time and space: have an honest conversation with your teams and team members. Give people a forum to exchange and voice what’s important.
I’ve had some really interesting conversations in the past weeks with Floria and Margherita who are both D&I consultants (book them, they’re great) and I am on a personal journey to improve my knowledge, be proactively aware of my own unconscious biases (good overview here), and listen and learn. I am truly inspired and happy about anyone who’s pushing this subject forward to make things better than before!
I also think we’re at a crucial point in history and I strongly believe that all of us need to take a good look at ourselves and see where we are contributing to a broken system or where we could have taken a stance and didn’t. Now it’s the time to listen, learn and speak up to cause real and long-lasting change.
What career advice would you give your younger self, if you could go back in time?
I’ve always worked very hard to get where I am today and I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. But I also know that I am very privileged to have grown up in Germany, safe and secure with a great education and pretty much all the possibilities in the world.
I can think of many things I wish I’d have known, but the one thing that sticks out is that I wish I would have been strong enough to really listen to my gut feeling and establish boundaries, if, for example, something I had to do really went against my own values. It’s hard to know how to do that when you’re younger. I’m glad I do now and I hope to pass this on to my children and those who still need some time to get there.
If given the chance, who would you like to be for a day?
Mhm, good question. Right now I want to say I am happy with who I am and I don’t actually feel like I’d like to be anyone else. I’d much rather have dinner with some of my favourite authors. That sounds more interesting.
What’s an ability you would like to have?
I would like to be able to travel through space and time so I can be in some of the places I’ve lived before in the blink of an eye.
When you’re not at work, how do you recharge?
I manage to unwind most when I am by nature. When that is not possible, I go to yoga or do other sports. Mitte has a cooperation with the Urban Sports Club that I super appreciate, so I sometimes even manage to fit in a class during my lunch break.”
What can you recommend to people looking for a job in a purpose-driven startup?
Take a moment to think about what values are important to you, sit down and have a look at what companies are aligned with those and are also doing something that inspires you. Now think of where you can add value and then get yourself noticed. If you want to know how, let me know 😉
How would you describe Mitte in three words?
A great place.
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