In today’s FemalExperts Role Model Interview, it is my special pleasure to introduce Gaby Wasensteiner, Senior Brand Manager at LinkedIn, to our community.
Dear Gaby, how nice of you to take us behind the scenes a bit today! Would you like to give us a little insight into your (professional) life journey so far?
You’re welcome, I’m very happy to be here. My career path so far has taken me through a wide variety of roles, industries and countries. I tried a lot of things before I ended up exactly where I am today and feel like a million bucks. From sales, to marketing. From large corporations to startups and briefly as self-employed people. From the luxury industry, to television, to the tech industry, everything was there.
In this context, I find it particularly exciting that you have completed an interesting thematic development from your field of study (Japanese Studies, Pedagogy, Transnational German Studies) to the topic of Marketing & Branding. How did you open up this new subject area for yourself?
Originally, I wanted to teach German in Japan, but during my internships I realized that this was not the right career choice for me after all. In my first job in sales, I noticed that I was becoming more and more fond of the marketing team. I was able to proactively work on projects that gave me insight into working as a marketing manager. Then when I expressed my desire to move into marketing, they said, “Well, if you can learn Japanese, you can learn marketing,” and so I got a chance as a lateral hire.
In addition to your professional expertise, your commitment also stands out. Not only are you sharing posts about Pride Month, which is all about the LGBTQIA+ community, you’re also supporting other contacts in your network by giving them a voice and sharing your reach with them. How is it important for you to use your visibility to support others as well, and how did that come about?
I am aware of how privileged I am and I want to share my reach and access to my network with others who may not have the same opportunities as I do. The inclination to be more community minded and supportive of others is something I’ve always had. I got that as a value from my parents and it was commonplace in the small town where I grew up.
You support female founders in particular as part of the Female Founders Factory, a cooperation project between Businettes and LinkedIn. Broad networking opportunities are offered here, as well as coaching for female founders. Where do you personally see the biggest stumbling blocks (for women) in the start-up phase?
Of course, there are all kinds of challenges when starting up. An important factor for the success of a start-up, for example, is a strong network. However, it is evident that women’s teams in particular have less developed networks in business-relevant areas – especially with investors (see: Female Founders Monitor), but also with mentors and insights. We want to change that with the Female Founders Factory and provide targeted support for female founders.
Is there a tip or recommendation that you would give to women in particular in this context in the professional/entrepreneurial field?
Maybe it helps, especially in the beginning, to put aside your perfectionism a bit: Just get started and get help where you can. You don’t have to do everything perfectly, and you don’t have to do everything alone. You learn with every step.
Many women founders lack inspiring role models. Have you had a Role Model in your life so far that has inspired you?
I can’t name a specific person here – I rather took different aspects of various people as a model. From my parents to friends, managers or famous personalities. You can learn something from almost anyone, even if no one is perfect.
In the start-up show “Create F”, you yourself acted as a role model and answered the questions of the budding female entrepreneurs with regard to a value-added approach to LinkedIn. To what extent is this business network an important platform for female founders in particular?
Founders often lack people in their own immediate environment who have the technical or industry-specific knowledge for their start-up. Or simply people who are currently walking a similar path, with whom you can share challenges. LinkedIn offers access to relevant contacts as well as a platform to exchange ideas and get your message across.
You have also taken over the “patronage” of the LinkedIn format #RockYourProfile. What exactly can the readers imagine by this and what advantages does it offer?
In a Rock Your Profile session, participants will learn how to leverage LinkedIn for their career path, no matter what success means to them. There are tangible tips for creating a profile, best practices for networking, thought-provoking ideas for personal branding, and ways to get inspiration for yourself.
I often hear the statement in the context of social platforms that many are afraid of “showing off” too much. You take a different approach here and also share private insights, for example on the topics of flexibility (in a work context) or mental health. What moves you to also share this part of your (professional) life with others?
Only when I can be myself at work and show emotions do I feel comfortable and happy in my job. First and foremost, I am a human being, not an employee, and I want to reflect that. Everyone has their own personal boundary here in terms of what they want to share in the working world, and that’s perfectly okay. For me, I have decided that I want to be the person at work that I am with my family and friends, for example. And that then shows up quite naturally in my digital presence.
Dear Gaby, I have 100 more questions buzzing around in my head, but at this point I’ll limit myself to my obligatory final question: What’s next for you personally/professionally in the next few years?
Honestly, I don’t know. Right now I’m happy where I am and I want to enjoy that for a bit before I move on to the next challenge. However, one of my dreams is to go back to university at some point and study – biology or psychology would be subjects that would interest me a lot.
I am very pleased that you have given us such exciting insights into your diverse (professional) life biography. The topics of branding & networking are an incredibly exciting field and I look forward to having another opportunity to talk about this in more detail.
Dear Gaby, thank you so much for introducing yourself as a Role Model to our community!
About the author
Kinga Bartczak advises, coaches and writes on female empowerment, new work culture, organizational development, systemic coaching and personal branding. She is also the managing director of UnternehmerRebellen GmbH and publisher of the FemalExperts magazine .