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The Uber community is constantly growing in Switzerland, thanks to our riders and driver-partners. We’re thrilled about the fast and stable growth of our local community, that beautifully reflects the diversity of Switzerland. There are Uber riders of all walks of life: hardworking students, busy businesspeople, multi-tasking parents, independent artists, curious pensioners, talented musicians, energetic party goers,.. and we’re very grateful for each and every one of you! In this blog series, we’re highlighting your stories. Check out our previous posts (in German) in this interview series: Bea Petri, Anna Känzig. Today, we’re continuing the Ladies Series with another strong woman:
Founder of We Are Play Lab, startup mentor and lecturer, Cristina Riesen is an EMScom graduate, design thinking professional and lifelong learner. Former General Manager for Evernote in Europe, Middle East and Africa, she has more than a decade of experience in international communications and global entrepreneurship. Cristina has been included in the Top 30 Swiss leaders in digital by Handelszeitung and Top 100 Swiss leaders by Bilanz.
You’re an inspirational business leader in the tech field. You’re also a woman. How do you think this has impacted your career, especially in a male dominated field?
Cristina: When I joined Evernote and the world of tech, I was lucky enough to be part of a fantastic, diverse team with great values and an amazing culture. Therefore I never felt the gender bias directly in this environment. This being said, throughout my life and outside the world of tech, I have encountered discrimination and bias in many forms and ways, be it as immigrant, woman or working mother. Early on in my life, I decided though to focus not so much on what others tell me I do not have (the “right” nationality, the “right” gender, the “right” diploma, the “right” experience, etc) but on figuring out a way to make my dreams and aspirations come true. One of my favorite quotes and a guiding life principle became: “if they don`t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”.
In both your professional and personal life, you’ve shown strength in two particular skills that many see as opposite: creativity and analytics. How do you combine the two and what is their cumulated effect?
Cristina: One does not exclude the other, they beautifully complement each other I would say. Creativity and analytical thinking are competencies that can be learned and developed throughout our lives, just like collaboration and communication. In my case, they are the foundation of a growth mindset. They allow me to continuously learn and practice new skills and look at the world with child-like wonder every day.
You made a big decision: you went from being the General Manager of Evernote in Europe, Middle East and Africa to being an entrepreneur, startup mentor and lecturer. How did you find the courage to make such a life-defining decision and go off on your own, professionally?
Cristina: I am a lifelong learner and a curious mind, very much attracted to the idea of lateral moves in life. Instead of following the “way up” of a traditional career path, I love challenging myself, exploring and experiencing different fields of study and environments. Evernote was an incredible part of my journey but not the destination. I abandoned the idea of having “a job” and “a career” years ago. Instead, my main goal is to live a fulfilling life, learning from and working with amazing people on challenging, interesting projects, serving the world and leaving a legacy. Entrepreneurship has always been part of me and I am fully embracing it today, with all the excitement, the fears, the joys and the risks associated.
Cristina: I was attending Le Web in Paris in 2008 when Uber was born 🙂 it seems like yesterday! I have been a loyal user eversince its launch. Be it Zurich, Lagos, Lyon or San Francisco, it is the service I use the most when I am travelling. Last time I was in California I tried Uber Eats and it was a great experience, I hope it arrives soon in Switzerland!