“Give a new job a chance first”

Written by: Laura Schneider

Women are still underrepresented in IT professions. Despite this, Aline Barray actively chose it. In this interview, she talks about what helped her along the way and why time spent abroad was formative.

You work in IT Organization & Development at Covestro - what exactly are your responsibilities here?

In my job, I focus on supporting my colleagues from the IT department through upcoming change processes and in their own further development. I work on three different levels: IT&D organization, group or team level and individual employees. It's about developing the company as a whole, our department as well as each individual team member. Overall, the teams need to be prepared for various new processes and procedures. These include the introduction of agile working or, more generally, taking on new areas of responsibility. To do this, I constantly analyze which skills are currently available and which will be needed in the future.

IT is still dominated by men - what is it like to work in this field as a woman?

For a long time, IT was not an area that appealed to me. As a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher. I played school with my dolls, built classrooms and taught my teddy bears. I didn't become a teacher, but I was able to realize myself in human resources. Then in 2015, I integrated myself into a predominantly "male" world by joining Covestro's IT department. I realized that it doesn't matter whether I work with women or men. What counts for me is a pleasant working atmosphere and good cooperation with my female and male colleagues.

Were there key moments in your career that set you on the path you're on now?

I was born in France and went to school there. After graduating from high school, my exceptionally good grades gave me the opportunity to attend the Classe préparatoire for two years - a school to prepare me for my upcoming studies. I can still benefit from this experience today, because my time at school taught me a lot of courage and the will to work.

I then studied at a business school for three years, and in between I gained one year of practical experience in the form of various internships. These practical experiences were also very helpful and were a step that I can only recommend to anyone.

For me, the year abroad in Sweden was also very formative. I completed my MBA in International Marketing there. I made the decision to go abroad quite consciously, because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone. This step was not easy for me. But it taught me how to live independently in a new country and a new culture. At the same time, I was able to further improve my English skills. Looking back, this time was very important for my private and professional development.

You have already gotten to know various positions and employers - what similarities and differences have you experienced?

In all companies you find quite similar basic structures, whose differences lie in the details. For example, completely different corporate values are pursued, the implementation of the strategy and the associated goals differ from one another, or the way the workforce is treated, the corporate culture and communication with one another are handled differently. As with all things in life, there are always advantages and disadvantages that you have to weigh up for yourself.

Which acquired skills have helped you the most?

I am very good at explaining complex structures to different teams in a target group-oriented way, motivating the teams and working out solutions with the individual team members in each case.

Basically, my good feeling for languages also comes in handy - I have already lived, worked and studied in different countries. Communication skills in general are an important competence. I find it much easier than before to ask questions and ask for help. Dialog with each other is very important and often gets both sides where they want to go.

How has Covestro supported you in your career so far?

When I moved to IT, I learned that you often have to give a new job a chance first and get to know it. A job description never contains all the facets of the actual job. In addition, you can also design your own job to a certain extent. Flexibility on both sides is therefore very important. I always seek a discussion with my supervisors when I see a need for discussion. We then consider together what makes sense for Covestro and what reorganization makes sense for me. The company has been very open here, allowing dialog and respecting my wishes.

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