Aysha Hoque ·
Mar 27, 2020 · 5 min read
In the spirit of International Women’s History Month, we wanted to hear from one of our own female role models in the tech field; Dania Gerhardt, Co-founder of amazee.io and Chief Financial Officer of Amazee Group. For years, she has successfully supported not only amazee.io but the entire Amazee Group, and she stands as an example to all those who are looking to also one day become a leader in the field. So we sat down with Dania and asked about her own experience being a #WomaninTech. Here’s what she had to say:
How would you best explain what your job is?
Being one of the founders of the Amazee Group means that I do a little of everything. I get involved wherever I am needed. My main objective is to support the team by keeping everything together. Officially though, my role is Group CFO and I manage the finances for all the companies in the Amazee Group, as well as serve on the board for the group.
With amazee.io specifically, I have taken over the role of leading all business operations. Essentially what that means is that I support the administrative team and all team operations. I keep the wheels of the business turning in the background with a big focus on budget and finance.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, since I work throughout the group and the group is global, my days are fairly long. I wake up very early, around 5 am every day. The first thing I do is switch on my coffee machine because without coffee the day is quite hard to start. After that, I have my first “work block” in the morning until about 7 am where I take my first break. This time I use to get the kids ready and out the door in time for school.
Then it’s back to work for another work block. I spend some time syncing with the United States, Australia, and New Zealand teams since they’re all up by then. Midday, I’ll take another break, and this one tends to be a little longer. I have lunch, but I also make sure to clear my mind by doing a physical activity like cycling or even just some grocery shopping.
This way, I come back mentally energized and ready for my last work block of the day which starts at about 2 pm. This is when I’ll sync with the South African and European teams. This working block tends to be a long working block that goes into the evening, but I always make a point to try to be off by 8 pm.
Looking back, did you ever see yourself ending up in a role like this?
It depends on how far back we go. I studied economics and started off working for KPMG where I worked until I was a manager in auditing there. Feeling burned out, I began asking existential questions and wondered “Is this my career and what I want to do for the rest of my life?” It was then that I realized I wanted to do something else where I could have more responsibility for something in its entirety and steer its direction. I learned about the initial idea of Amazee and decided I wanted to join as a co-founder where I could lend my execution and operations skills.
At that point, in 2007, Amazee was a SaaS company offering a collaboration platform. When many of our customers began asking for customized white-labeled versions of our platform, we pivoted to becoming an agency and renamed ourselves Amazee Labs. From there, we began offering additional services, including web hosting, and eventually decided to spin amazee.io out as its own entity.
To get back to your question though: the short answer is no, I did not expect myself to become an entrepreneur in the tech space, but I am very glad I ended up here.
What would you say is the best part about being a woman in this industry?
This doesn’t necessarily have to do with being a woman, but I think the technology industry, in general, is such a great place to be. You get to work with some really smart people on your team, so there are a lot of opportunities to learn and grow. The industry has a lot of people who are keen to change the world by pushing boundaries, and by being in it, you get to be a part of something fantastic.
It’s no secret that there’s a lack of women in the tech industry. Do you have any ideas for how we can try to get more into the field?
This is a tough one because I don’t think the root of the problem is the company or even the industry, but just society itself. But there are a few things that I think we as an industry can do. The main one being to push for more female role models. Make them accessible mentors and bring them to the surface. This will inspire those women who feel that tech is a field they aren’t welcome in.
Another good practice is to make sure that as a company you don’t have any barriers to joining, visible or not. Be critical of your own communication. Don’t ever be excluding. Don’t have a macho culture and make sure your aura is a neutral one. You just have to work hard to make sure you are inclusive so no one ever feels they won’t be accepted. As a company, make sure you have no barriers, visible or not, to inclusion. These things may feel small, but they are a great place to start.
Any advice for women considering a future in the tech industry? Or anything that you wish you had known?
A piece of advice would be to trust in your own ability – be confident in yourself. Oftentimes, I have seen that the issue is never about the level of skill. The skills are usually always there, but it’s a lack of trust in capabilities. If you have the right self-esteem you can get anywhere. Don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself. Don’t give up easily or get disheartened. Find your voice and make sure you use it.
How do you feel about being a woman at amazee.io?
I think amazee.io is a great place for women to work. This group started with women. We started with a gender mix of 50/50. All of our women leaders have opened doors for other women to join the team. We have and continue to always value skill and expertise over anything else. Our approach to hiring has been to hire the best candidate for the role, but diversity is something that we always aim for. We want to make sure that we have equal opportunities with everyone and are able to embrace the talent that’s around us.
I also think our work-life balance is one that a lot of women will find they are looking for. Our team is fully remote and very flexible with work schedules. I know for me this commitment to work-life balance has allowed me to not only be a super leader but a super mom as well. We are a very open team that has a bounty of support for one another. Our doors are always open so please come on in!