Who am I?
My name is Grace Uy and I am with Group IT in the role of Head of HR-IT Region EMEA. I am a Filipino, was born and raised in the Philippines. I consider myself truly Filipino at heart. I moved to Hannover, Germany together with my family in 2012. Prior to moving to Germany, I was working for Automotive IT in the Continental plant in Manila. I started in the field of SAP Business Warehouse leading a regional team in Asia, continued as Global Lead of the SAP BW/BI Team at the headquarters with the Group IT where I am now part of the HR-IT organization.
Already in my youth, I wanted to be in IT. It fascinated me to learn more about computers and to first take little steps in programming in summer school. Even though I studied mathematics in college, my passion was always in IT.
How is it to work in Continental IT as a female leader?
The mindset in Continental as a whole and in IT has been and nowadays is even more open for diversity. This means neither gender nor cultural background matters, but one’s own personal experience and contribution. What I find reassuring at Continental IT is having a senior management who advocates female talents in leadership positions. This encouraged, motivated, and supported me to advance my leadership career further in IT.
As a female leader, I would like to continue this advocacy for women in technology. I offer my time as part of the mentor pool and had my share of mentees who were participants of our IT Digital Emerging Talent program.
Why a career in IT? What do I like most in IT?
IT is everywhere and offers a variety of fields such as Cybersecurity, Business Applications, Infrastructure, Cloud and many more. As it is a huge field, it has many facets and is quite versatile. The projects and topics are remarkably interesting, and Continental IT is a wide area you can develop in. Learning new things never ends, even on a management level.
As an IT Leader, what I like most is to see IT people loving and enjoying the work they do and creating value with the IT solutions being delivered for our internal customers.
What was my biggest challenge so far?
It was when I moved with my family to Germany. Facing a new culture, an unfamiliar environment and a new language was a big leap for me and my family. What made the adjustment at work manageable was the fact that I was working in the same field of IT the first five years. Fortunately, I have some relatives living in Europe who I meet with from time to time. This is a big support to avoid homesickness.
On the other side, moving to Germany allowed me to gain international experience, thus opening new perspectives and angles for me as an IT Leader. This challenge turned out to be a wonderful opportunity towards leadership development.
How do I manage work-life balance?
I try to stick to my schedule. If there is no need to work long hours because of urgency, I keep to my plan. In the past, I did not mind the time and worked evenings or weekends, too. Today, I make sure I go offline accordingly and make sure I have time for myself and my family. It really makes a big difference on the quality of life when I have time to unwind on a regular basis – be it having my alone time at home reading a book, spending family game or movie night on Fridays, or visiting nice places here in Europe for a longer vacation.
Lastly, to my fellow women in technology out there.
Should a door open and present you with a leadership opportunity in IT, go for it! Do not overthink it but grab the chance in front of you, especially when you find yourself at peace with it. We should continuously stay active and drive our own career to bring us where we want to be. The first steps might be tough and challenging, but once you are there, everything will work out.