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WiBD Berlin Interview with Regina Umbach

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Women in Big Data Berlin chapter kicked off 2023 with the plan for a series of interviews with amazing women who are transforming the tech industry in Europe and globally.

The first guest was Regina Umbach, a Director DACH, Telco, Utilities at Meta.  Regina is one of those inspirational female leaders who changes digital industry in Germany and DACH region, helps businesses grow, and breaks stereotypes. 

Let’s get to know Regina. 

Regina Umbach: Career: remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint

Regina is responsible for Meta’s enterprise segment of large Tech, Telco and Utilities advertisers in the DACH region; she helps them make the most of their investment on Meta platforms. Driving the digital transformation in DACH—that’s what she enjoys most about it and what is important to her. We talked with Regina to find out more about her values and lessons learned.

WiBD: How did you switch from a non-technical professional background to a digital career? Was it difficult?
Regina: I have always enjoyed learning and tackling new challenges. I joined one of the biggest German media companies worldwide, Bertelsmann, at the time when the internet was just starting to take off. I was part of the group that built the first global e-com platform and online marketplace at this company. My background was in literature, which created a natural affinity for selling books online. At that time, I worked a lot with the IT, marketing and strategy teams, and from there I literally learned to build an internet startup from scratch.

WiBD: What do you love about your job? What inspires you to carry on working every day?
Regina: People. I love the atmosphere in this company (Meta), especially the focus on individual strengths. The culture is very special. Working at Meta allows employees to do their best work. As a leader, I am an open and curious person. I don’t mind change, and if you want to thrive in this kind of environment, you must be able to live with ambiguity and frequent change. We have a set of core values here. They’re not just written on paper or walls in the office. We bring them to life regularly. We live them. The type of people that Meta hires is consistently coming up as the number one thing we all as employees enjoy the most, i.e. our peer group. I can see that this is baked into the DNA and how the company operates. If it wasn’t like that, I probably wouldn’t want to work here.

WiBD: What motivates you at work?
Regina: The whole environment of the tech industry. I also have two children. My daughter is now 12, and yes, I wish for her one day that it’s completely normal to work in a tech company in a leadership position. The sense of learning motivates me as well because in this company, it’s expected that you bring an open and curious mindset to what you do and that you keep on learning every day. And that includes learning from failure. It’s not just learning from what has gone particularly well, but also being open and vulnerable to learning from failure, because sometimes that’s how you learn the most.

WiBD: Why is it important to have more women in the tech industry?
Regina: If you want to build great products for the world, you must have diverse voices included in the very beginning of creating (these products). Also, it’s so clear to me from when I work with my team, when I go to big offsites, if you don’t intentionally bring out every voice, you’re going to miss out. You’re going to miss fruitful discussion. You’re going to leave out some of the talent in the room. You know, so many companies are fighting for talent, and they could be doing a much better job being intentional about harnessing all the talent that’s already there. If they just set their mind to it. I think it’s important. It makes teamwork a lot more effective. It’s better collaboration, but it simply yields better results.

WiBD: What lessons have you learned so far in your career?
Regina: One key lesson is to ask for help often and early, and not to be afraid. Just keep learning and having an open mindset.

WiBD: What would you advise yourself when you were 20 years old?
Regina: I’ve always worked really hard. I’ve always had a high ambition to achieve. I grew up with the philosophy that you can do anything if you just want it strongly enough. My advice is to work hard, know your strengths, but of course also cut yourself some slack, smell some roses sometimes, is what we say.

Having a successful career is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about sustaining a high level of satisfaction over time, in your private life and in your professional life, and it doesn’t happen by itself. You can learn that early on, whether you are a professional athlete or you are in the top of your class. I think it’s something to be mindful of if you want to be successful for 20, 30 years. You need to also be intentional about how you do that and understand what you truly enjoy and who you really are. It goes back to understanding your strengths and who you are.

Short questions:

WIBD: What do you prefer? Tea or coffee?
Regina: Oh, coffee.

WIBD: What’s your favorite food?
Regina: Avocado, and a variety of food. Vegetarian, fish, or chicken.

WIBD:Where do you like to travel the most? Where do you spend your holidays?
Regina: France. I’ve been spending a lot of time there.

WIBD: What do you like reading? What books could you suggest reading?
Regina: Right now, I’m getting back into ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead’ book by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg. I’m reading this for the second time. I really recommend it as it’s universally true.

WIBD: What is your hobby?
Regina: Music. I play piano and accordion and I love singing.