At Celonis, one of our values is #TheBestTeamWins, and in order to have the best team, our Celonauts need to feel at home, valued, and seen. That’s why we encourage and support our employees to form and lead Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and communities to exchange ideas and experiences, mentor each other, learn and develop projects.
We met up with the Founders of “WinCoE,” an ERG based in Madrid, to learn more about the group’s initiatives, aspirations, and the impact they’ve already made on female Celonauts across the globe. Meet Founders Dounia Pajoheshfar, Geetanjali Agarwal, Valerie van der Spree, and Camille Eloi, as they walk us through this impactful ERG.
Geetanjali: Women in the Center of Excellence, otherwise known as “WinCoE,” is an ERG focused on bringing women in the Global Solution Engineering Center of Excellence (CoE) together and building a spirit of female power.
Dounia: WinCoE isn’t just about attracting female talent to the team, which is already a big priority at Celonis. It's about supporting that talent and driving them to be leaders as well. That's super important in tech generally, as is mentorship.
There are so many new joiners in the Madrid office, which is fantastic, and a lot of them are women, but I find that we all meet each other by chance. This group is a really cool way to formalize that, not only in terms of networking but also by making friends and having that company culture mixed in.
Joining a startup is quite difficult for everyone as it is - everything is moving very quickly, and you have to onboard, learn the ropes, and find the right resources simultaneously. WinCoE is another line of support. The ERG helps females hone their technical skills as well as important soft skills like how to ask for a promotion or how to negotiate.
Valerie: WinCoE started as a weekly coffee catch-up in Madrid; we would support one another and talk about how we might get more females on the team. Then it grew into this much bigger initiative, extending to the rest of the CoE and eventually across the globe.
Geetanjali: We knew that since the number of women was growing in the CoE and there are more interns coming into the team, it would be good to start this initiative to collaborate and support each other with our new ideas, problems that we are facing, and our career paths going forward. It was a very natural thing that happened.
Camille, Dounia, and Valerie weigh in on their vision here:
Camille: It really takes a personal turn for each person. We want to create a community of networking and mentorship and overall a structured and supportive environment for women. We get together on a monthly basis and have conversations - starting with women in tech, and specifically women at Celonis. The main goal is to create mentorship, especially in a virtual world.
Valerie: I hope by creating this movement within Celonis, we can also attract more female talent from outside to join our team. We're organizing events now to increase awareness about the ERG, help people find mentorship within the company, and learn how to navigate the environment. We're also organizing networking events on a monthly basis. For example, we’re hosting a mixer later in the month so that we can meet female colleagues from within the company.
Dounia: I see it twofold: we want to support both women here at Celonis and women who have yet to join. Today, we’re not seeing many female applicants for solution engineering roles. They aren't applying to these types of jobs, which is a problem throughout the tech industry.
Back when I was applying for jobs, companies were requiring things like a “consulting background” and “big data experience.” I personally didn't have a big data background. I did coding on the side, but I didn't study big data as my core degree topic. Normally that would have scared me off, but I knew I could do that job. A lot of women would have probably run the other way. There are so many statistics about how if you're 80% qualified, you should apply, but lots of women don't, and lots of guys do - it's just how it works. We want to change that.
Geetanjali: The goal is to have a very collaborative spirit amongst the women in the CoE as well as women in Celonis in general.
Geetanjali: Before joining Celonis, I was doing my MBA, and I come from a background in entrepreneurship. Moving to Celonis, where you have collaboration and a lot of support from everyone in terms of your growth, your career, and what are you looking for, is amazing. It's not a very common thing to have. Having an ERG like WinCoE and knowing that you always have somebody to talk to has really impacted me in the sense of feeling that support and family culture in the organization.
Valerie: We shared the initiative with the Spain office recently, and seeing already how many people think it's a great idea and how excited they get about it already brings back a lot of value.
Dounia: First of all, it's added an extra dimension to my role at Celonis, which I really enjoy. So many women reached out when we made the official launch announcement, and it's really exciting for them as well, which I'm happy to see. Personally, it's expanded my network and I've already started meeting new people.
The second thing is being able to have another way to use my creativity. I always say that Celonis is an amazing environment for being able to use your creativity. We have a sustainability initiative that I was in this morning, and there are so many different things that you can do here. WinCoE is another way I can take all my knowledge and experiences from when I first joined Celonis and help new joiners as well.
Geetanjali: Having the voice of women in the organization is very important. Celonis has been super supportive, in general, as well. If a new team member feels that they need a support system, you can always fall back on a group like this. Of course, you can fall back on your team and your managers - they're also amazing people - but this is an addition to that support system.
Camille: More hiring and onboarding of actual pure KPI.
Dounia: It's a really nice way to meet people outside of the SE team. This ERG will help the careers of women at Celonis in terms of networking and learning about new things. Especially at Celonis, we learn about so many things by chance. I don't know if you know the tool, unicorn, but in solution engineering, it's one of my favorite things to use when building analyses, and I only found out about it by chance a few months later - it is these types of things you can learn from women by having these casual discussions within these events.
The founders of WinCoE are excited for what’s to come for this initiative. At Celonis, ERGs bring Celonauts from across the globe with similar interests and backgrounds together. Find your community here.