We visit Sarah Stemmler in beautiful Passau. Shaped by a centuries old history and the developer spirit that can only be attributed to a student city, ideas and progress are constantly flowing in this Bavarian city alongside three rivers. Sarah has been at home here since 2013 and founded synsugar GmbH six months ago together with her partner Sebastian Henneberg. Before that, Sarah had already been working as a freelance data consultant for two years. In the interview with Datentreiber, she tells us where her enthusiasm for the world of data comes from and how she became aware of Datentreiber.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Sarah Stemmler and a former Data Scientist. I started my own business as a data and analytics consultant in 2020. In May of this year, we founded synsugar GmbH. We are my partner Sebastian Henneberg and me.
In the beginning, in addition to my consulting work, I was still processing and analysing data in projects. I needed this mix to orientate myself and to recognise what is really important to me personally. At that time, I intensively studied the topic of data strategy and thus became aware of Datentreiber. In the data strategy design method, data analytics topics and design thinking are combined. This is enormously effective and exactly my thing.
Besides consulting, Sebastian and I share another passion: teaching, training or developing people. In the summer of this year, we made this idea concrete. Because we want to inspire and qualify more tech experts for leadership tasks.
Are you talking about the recently launched Tech Leaders Academy? The LinkedIn community was eagerly awaiting it.
Yes, exactly. In the Tech Leaders Academy, which is a product of synsugar GmbH, we pursue precisely this goal. For years, we have experienced that teams or experts and there are no exceptions, “techies” only perform well with very good leadership. A tech expert is not the same as a good leader, even if he or she is often expected to fill this role at a young age.
What exactly does the programme look like?
We offer the young leaders a 6 week on the job course. Every week there is an interactive workshop, individual coaching complements everything and practical tasks in your own company ensure that you can apply or try out what you have learned.
Of course, the exchange within the group (approx. 10 – 12 people) is also beneficial for everyone. We all know the feeling that only we are dealing with certain issues. Often, many people struggle with very similar challenges in their daily work and, at best, have already developed effective solution strategies. We want to bore as little as possible with theory, but motivate people to take action and dissolve any fears that may arise.
Sebastian and I will share our experiences as team leaders, from consulting and self-employment in this area with the participants. Together with other strong role models who embrace modern leadership, we will help the young talents to get ahead. Those who register this year can still benefit from our launch price of 1,850 € without and 2,600 € with individual coaching.
When was your first contact with the world of data?
When I came to the beautiful city of Passau in 2013 for my Master’s degree in business administration, there were several compulsory subjects, including statistics. So I was forced to deal with data. I quickly found it very exciting and inspiring, as I felt it was like a practical tool. From the second semester onwards, I enthusiastically attended the statistics lectures and seminars. For my master’s thesis, I was then given data and allowed to analyse it. It was about online purchase data from a food manufacturer. I analysed it to see if online purchasing behaviour in Berlin differs depending on the district or milieu.
What is your secret superpower?
I am bridging the gap between the data side and the business side. Someone who understands both sides is also called a data translator. My strong empathy for people helps me understand the very different areas. Among other things, I can read people so well because I have been active as a mentor for a very long time and have coached and developed many people. What always gives me a lot of pleasure is to bring people from outside the field, who have had little contact with data and AI topics, closer to this area.
What makes you a Datentreiber expert?
We Datentreiber experts drive our clients forward. In a nice way I can force our customers to their success. In addition to my very strong strategic and analytical way of thinking, I have a sympathetic power of perseverance and can thus motivate our customers to achieve their best performance.
How do you contribute to the business success of our customers?
I focus on the essentials. As a good consultant does, I help them to help themselves. We don’t want to accompany our clients for a long time or implement their projects for them, instead we help them to set a framework. The Data Strategy Design method is a powerful tool for this. The first turnaround is to look at the usability, or the user of the technical solution. Many want to overwhelm everything with technology and lose sight of the human being, who in the end either buys or uses the solution. Towards the user perspective, for example with the help of the Analytics Use Case Canvas.
Is the Analytics Use Case Canvas your personal favourite?
In fact, yes. When I was still on the technical side, I did exactly that wrong. Instead of starting with the user, I thought of great technical solutions that either had no benefit or were not accepted by the user. Now I start on the right side and think first: What is the user’s problem? I try to find the solution to the problem from the user’s point of view (non technical/analytical) and then concentrate on the solution and what benefit it has for the user.
What have been the learnings that you have drawn from the customer projects so far?
After I was certified as a Datentreiber expert in February 2022, I got the chance to work on a very complex project together with Georg Arens and Martin Szugat. Here I learned that sometimes we have to start much farther up front. First of all, we have to initiate a change in thinking within the company and the culture has to follow suit. What is a data strategy? Why do we need it? A statement that Martin quotes again and again: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast“. I agree with that 100%. If a company is not ready for change, even with the best method and the best tools, it will only move forward in very small steps. However, a well structured method such as Data Strategy Design and the Canvas tools help enormously to make a difference.
What is your tip for companies that want to become data-driven?
A lot of experimentation, rather small loops than a big project in which all the energy and power is spent and then just get going. It’s an advantage if you already know where the journey is going and have already taken the first steps. If you get stuck, we are there immediately to offer support and guidance.
What is it that drives you personally?
I want to collect as many museum days as possible and am therefore a great fan of change, further development and variety. Anyone who knows the bestseller “Big Five for Life” by John Strelecky knows what I’m talking about. It’s about collecting as many moments or experiences in life as possible so that you can look back on wonderful things at the end. For me, that can be an exciting day at work or a beautiful day in the mountains. I choose very well what I spend my time on. I always focus on the things that are particularly important to me.
Thank you very much for this wonderful interview. It is an honour and a pleasure to work with you to drive our clients forward.
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