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17 and a Half Questions With Melanie Wyssen-Voss

We ask inspiring people 17 and a half questions. This week we have Melanie Wyssen-Voss, the Communications Transformation Manager at Siemens, who shares thrilling insights about her career and personal life! She talks about what drives her, professional challenges and her most prominent Twitter follower – Barack Obama!

This article is also available in German

1. What I like about my job

What I like about my job, even after a month, is the fact that I can continue what I started as an independent contractor: To guide companies and their employees during change process. I enjoy working closely with people, want to understand what drives them in the corporate context, where they stand and what they need, in order to be able to cope with change more easily. I like to look at strengths and potentials and help to overcome boundaries in people’s minds, that at first glance seem immovable.

2. What sometimes frustrates me

There is always a certain potential for frustration for impatient people like me in the process of transformation. Even though I know that change does not consist of flipping a switch once, but of many small baby steps, I am always happy when I can feel and see the effectiveness of what I am doing.

3. My secret alternative job

A mixture of beekeeper, novelist and data scientist.

4. Best strategy to survive a really bad day at the office

Thanks to Corona, I haven’t been in the office much, nor have I had bad days. But what always helps me, when nothing else works, is to go for a walk on my own for hours on end. (Escalation stage: Tons of yogurt gums.

5. When are you in the famous flow

When I have time to fully concentrate on a topic without distraction or interruption. And also when there is a tight deadline.

6. Biggest success so far

I find it hard to pat myself on the back – I try to do the things I do as well as I can, sometimes better, sometimes worse. If I had to answer what I’m proud of, it’s that I was able to find myself a new professional challenge, although – or maybe even because – I almost exclusively followed my gut feeling and no career strategy. I like to do what I enjoy doing and no longer have to be corrupted.

7. Biggest defeat

When I was in my early 30s, I got my first management position virtually overnight and I did a lot of things then that I did not do well or differently than I would do today. At that time I was not able to be a leader that the team wanted to follow and recognizing that was a painful process.

8. Worst buzzword

Agile – not because I don’t think the agile perspective is good and important, but because it neither means that everyone does what they want, nor is it the answer to all questions in the context of digitization.

9.  Best reward after a hard week at work

Hiking or at least going for a long walk.

10. Home office or in-house

Under normal circumstances, I would immediately say ‘home office’, because as a mother it gives me more flexibility and takes away my guilty conscience in both areas. But at the moment I would like a little more time in-house and a chance encounter with real people.

11.  Most important traits a colleague/business partner must have

I like smart, appreciative, humorous and sincere people, both in my personal and professional life.

12. Your creative hack

I love mind maps, visualization and assigning thoughts. It often helps me to think further and to spin new ideas.

13. First website to check in the morning

Right after I get the rumors from Twitter, then the Zeit or the New York Times come to validate the news.

14. Favorite digital tool

My Apple-Watch.

15. In which book or series have you learned the most for your (work) life?

The book that has worked especially for me in the context of my professional reorientation over the last year is ‘Re-inventing Organisations’ by Frederic Laloux. It has helped and still helps me to better understand organizations and their structures and mechanisms and to find starting points for sustainable change.

16. Which series, book or podcast can you generally recommend?

To pass the time, I prefer to listen to the ZEIT Verbrechen podcast. When I’m looking for new perspectives, I listen to episodes of Coaching for Leaders or the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders.

17. Most prominent follower on a social channel?

Barack Obama. He is (for reasons unknown to me) my first Twitter follower ever.

17 and a half: What has always…

…puzzled me: People who are not interested in others and yet are still entrusted with their leadership.

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