The Courage to Accept a New Role as a Project Manager

She just loves that feeling of anticipation – every single time. And when it comes to taking the plunge, she takes it very seriously. The way her pulse quickens, and the air rushes past her. And then everything goes quiet. She's below the surface. The water is cold, and her instinct to breathe instantly kicks in. She looks up. It's not far to the water's surface. She just needs two more powerful strokes. She resurfaces. Breathes. Feels happy.

Inkeri knows this feeling all too well – in fact, she's taken the plunge many times. And even if the water was always cold, she jumped in every time regardless. That's how she went from being an HR officer with a degree in business administration to leading an international team that drives digitalization at the company. "Just make sure your boss gives you your water wings – at least in the beginning," she says. "But the courage to jump is something you have to find within yourself."

Fitting in with engineers

When Inkeri walks through the ZEISS customer center for ophthalmic devices today, she stops at almost every product to explain how it works. "Technology isn't rocket science, it's actually very logical," she says when people are amazed at her knowledge.

After she took the plunge for the first time, by moving from the HR department and into a role as head of global service for ophthalmology, she had to learn all about the technological ins and out of the devices and systems. "I spent the first six months at the call center, absorbing all the information I could," says Inkeri. At first she was met with suspicion, as the only non-physicist on a team of natural scientists. "But when you show a real interest – and certainly once you've mastered a learning curve – you're accepted very quickly indeed."

Two years later, in addition to being in charge of technical service, she also assumed responsibility for the entire Product Management department. This was the next time she took the plunge into the unknown. But, her outsider's view as a generalist among engineers was highly valued. Wherever she was, she was able to optimize processes – and further her career. "My managers always empowered me to assume new duties, and I also had the right mindset," she says. Go for it!

Responsibility for digitalization

That's also what went through her mind when she was tasked with looking after one of the three major digitalization projects in the Ophthalmology department at ZEISS. Together with her agile team, Inkeri is now constantly breaking new digital ground.

But it’s important to her that no one is left behind. "As a direct manager, I'm responsible for my employees' professional development. I have to stay on the ball so that my team can be creative and keep learning all the time," she says. So, she already has water wings ready for her own staff. All they have to do is take the plunge.

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