StrongVoices Interview #2: Iris Herrmann, partner and managing director at Strategy&, PwC

Our today's StrongVoice is Iris Herrmann. She is the only female partner and member of the management board at the consultancy Strategy&, PwC in Germany.

ABOUT IRIS:

Iris Herrmann is an advisor to executives in the chemicals industry for Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business. She is partner and member of the management board at Strategy& Germany, based in Munich.

Before joining Strategy& in 2011, Iris held various managing positions such as Corporate Development Manager and Strategic Marketing Manager at Wacker Chemicals, an international chemicals corporation.

Within Strategy&, she is the driving force behind female empowerment initiatives to strengthen the role of women in the business of strategy consulting. 

"Women need to have more confidence in themselves and follow their own, self-chosen path." - Iris Herrmann

OUR QUESTIONS FOR IRIS:

What were your biggest difficulties you encountered in the course of your career? How did you master them?

These were often moments when professional matters got mixed up with emotions or even political agendas; during major decisions, for example. Things can then get very stuck. Recognizing this situation in a first step to then be able to sort it out is difficult, especially if you are not familiar with such constellations. I have always been very open about getting support here - I don't have to do everything alone.
Of course I am also familiar with the often-described situations in meetings where women are not taken seriously or are mistaken for assistants. So far, humor has always helped me the most in these situations, sometimes even in a slightly snappier tone.

In your opinion, what do you think is necessary to encourage more women to follow a career path similar to yours?

Women need to have more confidence in themselves and follow their own, self-chosen path. Of course, it would be nice if there were more role models to show that "my" type of career is indeed achievable. But you can't wait for that - there are numerous exemplary characteristics in all kinds of people that you can use to encourage and confirm yourself, both in your professional and private life. I also believe that women need to be more active in networking among themselves, looking for supporters and thus setting impulses - in addition to formal offers such as a company mentoring program.

How do you manage to create a healthy balance between your work and private life?

Certainly not always perfect. For me, the small breaks in between are especially important – which is a bit more difficult in the current home office situation to be honest. After all, if you are travelling a lot, there are automatically always some small breaks that you can use for yourself - reading a book at the gate while waiting for boarding (instead of using the laptop), for example. It is important to know your own personal needs and then consciously plan your time for them (!!!) - because a "healthy balance" is very individual. For me, this is mainly being in the mountains on weekends, or cooking with friends - without my work phone. 

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to young women just starting out on their careers?

Girls be curious, ask questions and contribute your own ideas - especially at the start of your career or a new role you can bring a fresh, unbiased perspective to things, which is very valuable. And stick to your own style - it increases your self-confidence if you feel comfortable in your own skin. Despite all the dress code policies, it doesn't necessarily have to be the pure black pantsuit :-)

Last but not least: What do you particularly like about your AMELI bag?

I have the CENTRAL in Greige. On the one hand because of the color, which perfectly fits my often colorful outfits of red or orange. On the other hand, I love the extra clutch - I've been out to dinner far too often with my smartphone and wallet (and keys and tissues and...) in my hand, because I didn't pack an extra handbag for the business trip. 

AMELI ZURICH Interview with Iris Herrmann