Mission Female – an interview with founder Frederike Probert
Diversity in boardrooms and female empowerment are among the hot topics of today. In an interview with DMEXCO, Frederike Probert, founder of Mission Female, explains how her network helps women climb the career ladder.
With the motto #strongertogether, Mission Female offers an exclusive network to successful women. What makes this network unique and so special?
Frederike Probert: For one thing, Mission Female is unique in that it unites high-profile, top-level managers, decision-makers from small and medium-sized enterprises, and successful entrepreneurs. These include members such as Tina Müller (Douglas), Maria Gräfin v. Scheel-Plessen (Montblanc), Esther Recktenwald (Accenture), Julica Hauke (Grabarz+Partner), and Sibel Boner (BBC Global). Our other USP is that we’re active across different industries and represent various focal areas, for example digitalization, technology, media, FMCG, finance, and law. Last but not least, “Mission Female” is characterized by personal and committed cooperation. To ensure that it stays that way, our number of members is limited to 100. We currently have 83, so if anyone wants to get on board, they shouldn’t wait too long to come forward.
With regard to content, our main distinguishing characteristic in comparison to other networks is that we no longer just talk about diversity in boardrooms, but also take active action. Our mutual networking enables our members to move up to top management.
In terms of female empowerment, how and through what projects/formats do you strengthen joint interaction and help women grow personally and professionally?
Frederike Probert: We are based on four pillars in this respect: First, there’s the network as well as the joint interaction both among members and with external decision-makers. Second, we promote personal development by providing coaching sessions for media training, personal branding, and visibility. We achieve the latter by prominently featuring our members in the context of our various channels and events – such as our panel at DMEXCO.
Finally, our active commitment as part of the #webelieve initiatives also plays a key role. Through this, we engage in various topical political areas such as female empowerment. For example, we support founders in the form of a mentoring program as well as with investments. Our Female Boards initiative also forms part of that. Within this framework, we qualify and certify aspiring top managers and place them on advisory, supervisory, or executive boards.
The coronavirus abruptly changed the way many people work. To what extent does the rapid and extensive establishment of new and flexible working models provide women with additional opportunities to assume a leadership role?
Frederike Probert: As a result of the pandemic, many companies have had to switch to digital working models – and realized that employees can work just as well or even better from home than in the office. So hopefully a lot of them will keep this strategy in place. Such flexible working models, combined with flexible working hours, give women new opportunities to also step into leadership positions. In addition, remote working is accelerating the internationalization of the world of work, which is also creating new opportunities from a diversity perspective. At Mission Female, we’re experiencing that firsthand: We recently employed a team of 10 people who work entirely remotely – from Hamburg, Munich, Augsburg, Düsseldorf, and Stuttgart. The setup works fantastically and isn’t just an opportunity for us alone. After all, companies offering remote working no longer have to think about who not only would be good for the role, but who would also be prepared to move to the job location. Instead, they can choose the best candidates regardless of where they live.
You’ll be hosting a panel at DMEXCO @home. What’s on the agenda for this session and what topics will you be discussing during it?
Frederike Probert: Some of our prominent Mission Female members with profound digital expertise, namely Daniela Bojahr (Statista), Christina Kiehl (congstar), Rosa Markarian (Amazon), and Stefanie Tannrath (Universal McCann), will be discussing the power of networking for the next career step up to top management.
Our panel will specifically address the challenges women face in professional life and how to overcome them. We’ll be exploring distinct framework conditions for women to form a cross-industry network and support one another. Every woman who climbs the career ladder shifts societal defaults and at the same time empowers scores of other women to also gain access to leadership positions. They in turn drive further changes, and so on and so forth. In the long run, this approach ensures not only more diversity, but also better business results. After all, studies clearly show that heterogeneous teams with a diverse and inclusive leadership culture perform better than homogeneous teams.
You’ll find all the key information about “The Power of Networking” panel on our DMEXCO community platform.
“Setting new priorities” is the motto of DMEXCO 2021. What does that mean for you? What new priorities and focuses do you want to define as part of your future work?
Frederike Probert: Personally, I’ll be working even more digitally in the future, avoiding taking business trips as much as possible, and only attending in-person meetings if they’re part of Mission Female events in Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, and Zurich. That’s because we work extremely personally within the network and I highly value having direct contact with our members.
I’ll also be starting my very own project in late summer 2021: a six-week “worcation” on the Costa Blanca, where I plan to work purely remotely and prove to myself that working completely digitally is possible, even with a growing team. Work and leisure are becoming more and more intertwined. I see that as a positive development and want to also actively embrace and exemplify this trend.
What are your expectations going into DMEXCO @home and what are you particularly looking forward to aside from your panel?
Frederike Probert: Before Mission Female, I spent 20 years working in the digital and tech industry at Microsoft: AppNexus – now Xandr – and my own tech startups and am looking forward to catching up with people who have accompanied me along the way. I also consider it a great success that our panel will be boosting the number of women on the platform and raising our speakers’ profiles. Visibility is essential for active career building.