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Florian Leibert (Mesophere) / Sara Haider (Twitter) / Guido Appenzeller (VMWare) / Larry Gadea (Envoy)
Gandalf Hammerbacher/Picture Alliance

“Engineers Are the Stars”

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As the innovation of technology shows no sign of slowing down, all entrepreneurs must think about what keeps them competitive. Florian Leibert (Mesosphere) hosted the DLD panel about engineering leadership in the Silicon Valley. Together with Guido Appenzeller (VMWare), Larry Gadea (Envoy) and Sara Haider (Twitter) he discussed the next-generation of engineers and outlined the differences from Germany compared to the US.

One great disparity is pointed out right in the beginning of the panel. Larry Gadea says “engineers are the stars” in the Silicon Valley. They have the power because of their knowledge and they are best when they “can do their thing.” So it needs openess and trust from the managers to let their employees try an error. In Germany instead you must go into management to become a successful engineer.

Look for people with different ideas

Also important: diversity. Diverse teams can produce better. Therefore Sarah Haider looks for people with different ideas. That creates conflict and the possibilty of debate. In her opinion there is less use in hiring people that only support you and your ideas. It will hardly bring change or innovation to the company.

Give talents access to ability

The battles for talents are intense in the Valley, a signed contract does not mean anything. Some engineers change their decision over night. So how to win the best talents against other great companies? Engineers are looking for a place they believe in, they need to want the work and they must love the atmosphere. Thus it is important to create a fun environment, to build up confidence and to avoid a top down system. Guido Appenzeller describes the open work culture: “You can write e-mails directly to the CEO and their doors are always open.” Larry Gadea adds if you are in that specific cosmos it is easy to get access to amazing people. They all support each other and everyone is interested in your ideas and thoughts. 

Where could Germany improve?

Germany has fantastic engineers and great talents with visions, but often it is their expectations and perceptions that stand in their way. Guido Appenzeller gives an example: If an algorithm is coded, engineers in the Valley think about how they could build something around it. Not said that it will turn out great. Whereas German engineers would immediately try to conquer the world with this new achievement. Advice from Larry Gadea: „Let them fail!“.

All in all, Germany has the manpower to keep up with the digital market. But it still needs to improve by changing the economic system and focusing more on the talents.

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