Women in Tech: Karin Beumer (33), Emark Netherlands

An interview with Karin, Solution Architect at Emark Netherlands.

What exactly is it that inspires and motivates women to work in the technology sector? In the context of our ‘Women in Tech’ interviews, we asked six inspirational women just that. All of them are women who exemplify the fact that the technology world is extremely diverse. And each in their own unique ways are role models, like Karin Beumer, for example, who after initially studying art therapy is now a Solution Architect at Emark.


A switch from art therapy to a job in the technology sector is probably one that few people around you saw coming. What inspired you to make this switch?
Few indeed, I’ve always been fascinated by technology but during my art therapy studies we never even broached the subject of computers. But like many students I also had a job, which is where I met my current boyfriend. He was already programming and he stimulated my interest in computers and everything to do with them. It’s thanks to him back then that I started building websites using HTML and CSS. When I eventually started using JavaScript, I realised that the time was ripe to turn what had by then become a hobby into my livelihood.


And how did you find this job?
I simply started looking around for an apprenticeship. I soon realised that following an IT study is not the most important requirement in this line of work; it’s crucial that you have the ability to think in a certain way and that you have technical insight. This is something that’s repeatedly put to the test before you actually start work. I was accepted via TTP for an apprenticeship with Centric as a programmer. After a year I was approached by Jibes, where I then worked for over six years, finishing up as a project manager. This move was an important step in my career, because I’d noticed that the interaction between project management and IT really fascinated me. Looking back, it’s as if it was all meant to be. Via a friend I ended up at Emark, where, as a Solution Architect, I’m now able to perfectly combine my knowledge of IT with project management.


A Solution Architect?
As a Solution Architect, I am the client’s first point of contact when it comes to the various features of Salesforce Marketing Cloud and how these can be used to achieve your marketing goals. To this end I compile a blueprint, queries and other documentation to help kick-start the whole process. I am also closely involved in the implementation of Marketing Cloud at the client and I also provide training on the necessary tooling, both inside and outside the Netherlands.

It all sounds very impressive, but unfortunately you’re one of the few women doing this. Taking into account the number of women that work in the technology sector, the Netherlands is actually one of the worst scoring countries in Europe. Why do you think this is?
To be honest I have no idea. What I can say is that as a woman I think it’s actually easier to work in the technology sector than it is for a man. As a woman you’re quickly underestimated. Many women might be irritated by this, but I quite enjoy it. It allows you to surprise people and when they realise that you really know what you’re talking about, you’re certainly appreciated. In my experience, when a man and a woman in the IT sector have the same level of knowledge, the choice often goes the woman’s way. But the most important thing, obviously, is that you must have the required level of knowledge.


I understand that you have a gorgeous son, who’s nearly two. Is it difficult to reconcile working and being a mother?
No, no at all, so far it’s been very easy. At Emark we have an international customer database so I regularly need to go abroad to give training courses. This is, of course fantastic; during the past year I’ve been to places that include Switzerland, Boston and Oxford, and soon I’ll be off to Singapore and Philadelphia. But it does call for a degree of understanding on the part of my partner.


What advice do you have for women who are considering a career in the technology industry, but are reluctant to take the step?
Like I said before, I think that as a woman in the IT sector you have a slight advantage over a man with the same level of knowledge. Provided you can translate the client’s wishes into a technical solution, you have the right level of knowledge and you’re willing to stay abreast of technical developments, I’d say go for it.


And do you have a good tip for a fledgling Solution Architect?
Double-check everything! More than once I’ve made the mistake of assuming things without first checking with the client, which is something you must always do. Perhaps the client will have already answered the question before; but it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s the same story when it comes to preparing for training courses. I’ve learned to always keep clients in the loop, find out what they   expect you to cover and ask them if they have specific requirements.

Are you Karin’s new colleague? Check out our vacancies.