Becoming a leader: female forces at GetYourGuide
In this new series on career progression, we spoke with female leaders across the company on the steps they took to grow their career and their advice for those looking to do the same. In part 1, we hear from Marlene Schufferth. Marlene began at GetYourGuide in 2014 as a Product Designer and has since grown to be our Director of Product Design. She sets the short and long-term design strategy and leads a team of designers, UX researchers, and UX Writers.
When did you join GetYourGuide and how has your career progressed since then?
I started at GetYourGuide in November of 2014. Martin, co-founder and Director of Product, reached out and headhunted me from my previous startup. He initially pitched a Product Designer position for the apps team, but that role didn’t particularly interest me; I wanted to think a bit more holistically. I saw GYG was also hiring a Head of Design, so I pushed to interview for that role instead. In the end, we agreed I wasn’t quite there yet, but we found a great place for me in the discovery mission.
Within 2 years I was promoted to Head of Design and the following year, to Director of Product Design.
The fact that Martin pushed back in my first interview really impressed me and built great trust. Right from the start, I was given a growth opportunity. I wanted to be equally challenged and supported and I felt like GetYourGuide was the perfect place for that. And, so far this feeling has always held true.
It was our VP Product and CEO who challenged me to step up 2 years ago and take over the hiring and managing of the Design team. They also supported me in this process by providing me with leadership training and sponsoring a Design Mentor.
What advice could give others to progress in GYG or elsewhere?
Work hard and take chances.
This advice goes out to my fellow female leaders especially. As women we tend to be our own worst critic, always telling ourselves we aren’t ready yet, when in fact we’re always more than ready. You can never really be fully prepared, so learning on the job remains an important part of personal development.
If a chance offers itself, grab it!
...even if you don’t think you're fully ready yet.
If you haven’t advanced for a while, address it with your manager. If you would like to take a different path, sit down and have a conversation with the person who can help make this possible.
Own your development.
I never spent a lot of time thinking about my professional future. As much as I’m a control freak on a daily basis, I’m not too keen on commitment. Sitting down and formulating an alliance with my manager really pushed me outside my comfort zone. How should I know where I wanted to be in 4 years? That being said, it was a crucial part for my development because it created alignment and clarity on where my career could go at GetYourGuide, which was exciting and a little frightening at the same time (any good thing should be!). It forced me to think about what I needed to learn and put in place in order to get where I wanted to be, so I could reach out for help when I needed it.
My personal growth wouldn’t have happened at this pace if I didn’t drive it myself. You have to be the one with the picture of where you want to go and think about what you need to get there. Once you have that, ask for help and support instead of waiting for your manager or the company to map out your path. This has proven to be a very successful model for me at GetYourGuide and the leadership team has never rejected helping me when I asked for it.
Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.
Growing as a leader means making important decisions on a daily basis and relying less and less on your manager and support system to back you up on them. It is very uncomfortable because this means I’m not only owning the success of my decision, but also the failure: from hiring decisions, to spending money, to team setup. Becoming comfortable with this is only possible if you are growing in an environment championing failure as much as success because both are equally important for learning and developing. GetYourGuide is exactly that environment.