Rafaela Artner is one of those people who make you wonder where they find the time for everything that is in their curriculum vitae. It is therefore not surprising that she began her professional career at the very opposite of IT and Tech – in the countryside and with her love of wine. The Burgenland native was not satisfied with just studying the taste of grapes but learned the whole craft right away and produced her own Pinot Noir in 2013. While her passion for wine remains an important part of her life, it is only a small piece of her larger story: Today, Rafaela not only has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in management under her belt but also thirteen different employers on her resume. She has lived on four different continents, traveled to over 110 countries and along the way, she has mentored women to support their personal and professional growth. After more than five years at Google (Google Ads and Google Cloud), we were able to win her for our interview series shortly after she joined Microsoft. And we're thrilled to talk to a woman who has not only experienced and moved a lot but is also actively committed to the advancement of women. Let's go, here is the fifth interview of our Women In Tech series with Rafaela!
Hi Rafaela, why do you love your job? What drives and motivates you?
I love my job at Microsoft because it's an innovative company that keeps me close to the pulse of the latest technologies and trends. Working alongside smart and talented colleagues motivates me to continuously learn and grow. In addition, I find it very fulfilling to work in the healthcare industry and provide technology solutions to help healthcare organizations better serve their patients. Knowing that my work can have a positive impact on people's lives is incredibly rewarding. Plus, the healthcare industry is constantly evolving and presents many opportunities for innovation and problem-solving.
What personal achievements are you most proud of?
I take great pride in my personal achievements, particularly those that required me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace a growth mindset. One example that stands out is overcoming my fear of heights. I sought out a therapist who helped me work through my fear, and then I challenged myself to go paragliding in the Swiss Alps. It was a thrilling and rewarding experience, and it taught me that with the right mindset and support, I can accomplish things that once seemed impossible. I apply this same approach to my work, seeking out new challenges and pushing myself to reach my full potential.
Which latest trends in tech do you find most interesting? How do you keep yourself informed about the latest trends in tech?
I find the latest trends in artificial intelligence and machine learning to be particularly fascinating, as these technologies are transforming industries and changing the way we live and work. I also keep a close eye on developments in cybersecurity and data privacy, as these are increasingly important considerations for businesses and individuals alike. To stay informed about the latest trends in tech, I regularly read industry news and research reports, attend conferences and events, and engage with my colleagues and peers to discuss emerging technologies and their potential impact.
What is the next challenge that you want to tackle?
As I embark on this exciting new chapter at Microsoft as an Account Executive for the healthcare sector, I'm motivated by the opportunities and challenges ahead. Building on my experience at Google, I'm committed to quickly settling into my new role, getting up to speed on the latest products and services, and establishing strong relationships both within the company and in the wider Austrian healthcare industry. However, I'm also mindful of the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and nurturing my personal passions and interests. In fact, I believe that keeping this balance is the true challenge.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage women to learn programming languages and coding? Does the education system need to be altered in any way? Do you have any other ideas on this?
In my opinion, one of the ways to encourage more women to learn programming languages and coding is to start early in the education system. There is a gap in the Austrian education system and I believe that everyone should leave school with a fundamental understanding of technology, computer science, and coding. Additionally, mentorship and role models can be very helpful in inspiring and guiding women who are interested in pursuing these fields. Another way is to provide accessible and inclusive learning opportunities, such as the Python course I took when I started at Google. The course, "Women Teach Women How to Code," was taught by female engineers and helped me demystify coding as a discipline. I believe that more initiatives like this could be implemented to empower and support women in learning and pursuing careers in tech.
Do you think it’s necessary to build (or be) in a community of women in tech these times? How has community engagement contributed to your success?
I believe it's crucial for women in tech to have a supportive community they can turn to for guidance and encouragement. Being part of such a community can provide a sense of belonging, a space to share experiences and knowledge, and access to mentors who can offer valuable advice. In my personal experience, engaging with diverse communities, such as student clubs early on in my career or women@Google during the past six years, has played a pivotal role in my success. Through networking events and mentorship programs, I have gained valuable insights, made meaningful connections, and built a strong support system that has helped me navigate challenges and advance in my career. As a committed mentor myself, I am currently mentoring three women through various mentoring programs.
What advice would you give to women who would like to start a career in tech?
My advice to women who want to start a career in tech is to believe in themselves and their abilities, despite common feelings of imposter syndrome in the industry. It's crucial to be aware of this phenomenon and learn how to deal with it. Don't be afraid to take risks and make mistakes, as they can be the source of the most significant learning and growth. Look for mentors and allies who can provide guidance and support, and seek out communities of like-minded individuals who can offer a sense of belonging and shared experiences. Remember, the tech industry thrives on diversity and varied perspectives, so don't give up on pursuing your dreams and passions.
Thank you for your time and taking part in our little interview series, Rafaela!