Never make the coffee

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Andrea Kraus is Chief Revenue Officer and Executive Board member at the Eurofiber Group, a provider of industry-leading connectivity and cloud infra solutions to companies, government bodies and non-profit organisations, utilising its extensive fibreoptic networks and 11 datacentres in four countries.

Andrea’s extensive experience spans many areas within the realm of IT. She initially started her career in procurement, followed by a tenure in various leadership positions in the German IT consultancy, T-Systems. Prior to her current position at Eurofiber, she served in the role as Executive partner at IBM iX, and Director of Business Sales at Vodafone.

Sparking early interest

Upon reflection about what sparked her interest in the field of IT and telco, Andrea pinpoints that her career journey was set in motion at a young age by her older brother, when he took up programming. She discovered her affinity towards it and was soon coding on her own steam, armed with her Commodore 128 computer. She notes that many of her peers report having a tech-inclined older brother role model – and views childhood exposure as one of the most important ways for girls to get into the field and set the trajectory for success. “To celebrate role models beyond the historically stereotypical ‘feminine’ careers like nursing and teaching, is critical in changing the ingrained thought processes that limit girls from the get-go.”

Andrea is one of the trailblazers from an era where she was the only woman in the room; she actually felt the need to alter her appearance and cut her long blonde curls in a bid to be taken more seriously. Today, she is unapologetic as a female leader in the digital technology industry, and is adamant about this piece of advice to women starting out: “Say that you can’t make coffee. Never be the one expected to make the coffee.” She notes that although the picture has been changing over the last decade and her male counterparts are becoming more progressive in their thinking, there is still work to be done. She articulates that in the early days of her career, her male colleagues were initially not quite sure what to make of her. Thankfully, she was also supported and had stellar mentors who equipped her with the tools to shine within the industry. “We need to make this happen for as many women as possible. Achieving real gender balance will mean transcending the point where only a quarter of the seats in the boardroom are occupied by tech female leaders.” She believes that women have skills that should be celebrated, as they can be more diplomatic and more emphatic listeners, for example. To Andrea, these skills are critical in the modern workplace and lead to increased profitability.

Elevating women’s potential

It's within this philosophy that Andrea’s supports platforms like RightBrains, which celebrates women in digital tech as a source of untapped potential. According to her, inter-organisational women’s networks are advantageous because they allow women to be vulnerable, share advice, put issues into perspective, provide training and development, and provide a hands-on approach to searching for and pursuing mentorship opportunities within the confines of a safe, industry-specific network. Eurofiber, which is operating under the status of ‘vital infrastructure’ as awarded by the Dutch government, has recently partnered with RightBrains and will host the grand mentoring finale at the Eurofiber offices in Maarssen.

Fighting fit for leadership

It's been a whirlwind year for Andrea so far, for example in terms of international travel; by mid-February she had already visited business units in four countries and attended three international trade shows. She jokingly describes her schedule as ‘almost as busy as a touring rock band member, with more sensible accommodation’. Interestingly, two of the interests she utilises to find balance amidst such an intense timetable, is meditation and her love of martial arts. She covets the adrenaline rush of competing against a bigger opponent and using your mind, strength and strategy to triumph. She believes that her practice of fighting sports like kickboxing, Krav Maga, Wing Chun and boxing, continually fuels self-confidence that translates into the way she leads. Through martial arts, she has learned to ‘manage her powers’ through skills like taking your time as opposed to using brute strength as a go-to approach.

Saying yes to opportunity

When Andrea was offered the position of CRO at Eurofiber in the Netherlands, the companies’ intentions to further expand their infrastructure into Europe appealed to her and she said yes – despite living in Germany and not having exhaustive experience in the infrastructure industry at the time. This unflinching approach to new opportunities for growth is one of the things that she prides herself in, and encourages others: “When you are offered a job that excites you – immediately say YES. We tend to worry too much and fear change. Whatever happens from that point onwards: learn from it.”

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