Illustration by Stephanie Case
My name is Nele, my pronouns are she/her and I’m based in Hamburg. About 3 years ago I started as a Quality Assurance Engineer at SinnerSchrader and just recently, I switched my position to Scrum Master/ Agile Coach. Besides that, I'm the lead of our Diversity Skill Group and part of several cool change & social initiatives at SinnerSchrader. What sparks my joy is video games, music, french fries and intersectional feminism.
That's a great variety of interests!🍟 What made you want to switch from being a Quality Assurance Engineer to doing something else?
I loved being a tester and I still do have feelings for it. I mean I really like the aspect of analyzing the shit out of things, thinking outside of the box to catch all cases, trying out things that weren’t expected, bothering developers… but over time I simply realized that I hit the ceiling of possibilities when it came to developing and using my soft skills in the QA.
While I’ve been a QA tester in a cross-functional and agile team, and watching my Scrum Masters doing their job, I eventually found many of the traits I craved in them and their daily work. I like the idea of servant leadership, empowering others to become an autonomous collective and fostering their professional relationships. And I’m really happy that SinnerSchrader gave me the opportunity to do this switch (unpaid ad...🥺).
To be honest, all the social initiatives I did in parallel to my daily QA job started to spark more joy than working as a tester. Engaging for people & equal opportunities, driving change, motivating others to join in, questioning status quos, creating processes and being there for my peers and my team made me grow way more than I expected, so that slowly but surely, it shifted what I thought were my ideal job requirements. Somehow it was a logical consequence for me to dig into the idea of becoming some kind of coach.
To give a little context, the SinnerSchrader Skill Groups are usually a mix between a topic-related study group and a task force, which can be joined by people of all disciplines, levels and studios. They are an independent, non-hierarchical place where people can share knowledge, learnings, groom their soft- and hard skills and drive internal projects next to their normal jobs. We have several of them and when I found that Feli Kugland initiated a Skill Group that focussed on pushing diversity topics in our work environment, I joined and never left, knowing that there’s still a ton of work to do when it comes to diversity in our society. Since then, the skill group organized talks, workshops, discussion rounds and much more, all under the umbrella of creating a safe and welcoming environment for the people of SinnerSchrader.
Considering that the Skill Group handles topics in an overarching and SinnerSchrader-wide manner and therefore decision paths are naturally longer, I’m also part of a studio based Change Team which is tackling similar topics, but in a more decentralized way, focussing on our studio in Hamburg and driving innovation from within. This team is responsible for analyzing pain points within the studio, forming initiatives and promoting change for the overall wellbeing of the people working in our studio in Hamburg.
Among other tasks, we’re currently working on concepts for trainings addressing anti-racism & allyship, we’re deriving next steps for gender pay gap prevention and educating on unconscious bias. We also implemented regular employee happiness surveys, guidelines for inclusive language & meeting culture, celebrated the International Women’s Day and formed alliances with several departments in the company to gather the necessary tools and support, so that we’re able to tackle all these things.
Anger and impulsiveness, I guess...😄
I know this sounds hackneyed now, but what I’ve learned about anger is that this emotion has such a negative connotation although anger ≠ aggression. We tend to equate anger with destruction, violence and even becoming blind from anger when in fact, it’s a powerful vehicle for being consequent and passionate about something that bothers us. It’s all just depending on the driver of this vehicle, and how they’re capable of expressing their anger in a healthy way. There’s so much more to anger than blind rage. Angriness is transformative and potent; the response to it isn’t necessarily fear or dismissal. Once you’re on the anger train, you can be super determined, fast and brave. And since anger is a particularly honest emotion, it holds the power of motivating others to jump onto it, uplifting awareness for things that matter to you, empowering solidarity and creating a stir that simply can’t be unseen.
Well, and same goes for impulsivity. At first glance, reacting on impulses might appear unreflected or hasty when in fact, impulsivity is an intuitive response that comes along with a shitload of bravery. It took me some time to learn not to feel bad for being impulsive and reflect the source of my reactions, so as a result, I could start trusting my intuition instead of suppressing it. As long as we’re being respectful and minding basic human decency, impulsivity and impromptu actions have a high potential of serving a good purpose. If something doesn’t seem quite right or feels unfair, we should normalize releasing our concerns and immediately address them where they belong. Even if it sometimes seems like you’re creating a fuss, trust your gut feeling and learn in the process.
Yeah, just own it and grow. Be progressive.
I’m well aware that this is easier said than done. Sadly, both anger and impulsiveness are united by one aspect which makes it difficult for some people to harness from them; it’s the fact that as women and girls in a patriarchal society, we are still constantly told that anger isn’t suitable for us and impulsiveness is not a “feminine” trait. That we should prevent at all costs to make others feel uncomfortable. That we have to hold back ourselves in order for others to come forward and that this is the definition of kindness. That women and girls have to be nothing else but modest, gentle and nurturing.
Throughout history, our assertive traits are belittled by sentences like “You’re cute when you’re angry”. Being loud and determined about something that bothers us evokes subliminal oppression like tone policing or gaslighting, for instance by calling us crazy, falsely accusing us of being hysterical/ overreacting/ being on our period or a high maintenance Medusa (as if that was something bad!), so that eventually we turn our anger inwards or towards ourselves. It’s striking how deeply all this is interwoven with our identity. And how much we submit to it, without ever calling it into question. Systematically reproduced, we’ve internalized all of it as it was a natural condition.
Nah. I don’t want me, my peers and the future generation to approve of those limitations any longer. I know I’m capable of being headstrong and kind at the same time! Let’s start fighting for each other and allow us to be gentle to ourselves, too. I want us to naturally trust our intuitions, express our emotions and learn from our own mistakes. Let’s normalize failure and stop striving for perfection. And lastly, let’s realize that sometimes, a woman’s anger is a reflection of a collective yearning to break with normative bonds of social control. Let’s start owning and reclaiming our emotions and reactions the way we want, the way we need to. So that we can become our authentic selves again.
I’m looking forward to meeting these selves.❤️
Yeah, let me know if you need a party crasher!🤡