This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity and brevity.
Emma: I’m very happy to be here today with our very own Viktoria Praschl, Vice President of Central Europe Sales here at Tricentis. It’s so refreshing to have this experience in person in our Vienna office.
Viktoria, having you here today is really important, because this is part of our Ladies who Lead series. It was right to recruit you given that you’ve had 12 years here at Tricentis across many different departments, and you’re quite the fountain of knowledge for many of us here. In that 12 year time span, you started out in solutions engineering — you were then a consultant; when I started you were directing our Customer Experience team, and now you’re directing in sales. Realizing that reminds me of a quote by Patti Sellers — she says that careers are like a jungle gym, not a ladder.
By jumping between different departments, you’ll have acquired all sorts of knowledge that you wouldn’t otherwise have had. How has this equipped you to succeed at Tricentis?
Viktoria: Very good question; I love the quote. Honestly speaking, if I reflect a little, I grew up in rural Austria in a very small town of 1800 people. I went to business school back in the day, where 95% of the class were women. I then decided — for whatever crazy reason — to move to Vienna to study software engineering, which was completely different, because it was around 95% men studying it.
As one of my first jobs, I started at Tricentis. 12 years is a very long time; don’t remind me! I had the pleasure to start off in software engineering at Tricentis, and then I moved to the U.S., living in New York for 8 years. So I went from small Vienna, to big New York, and just recently I moved back to Vienna, now running sales. If I look at that, I always love to just try new things and take opportunities, which I’m very thankful that I’ve been given.
“From a success perspective—what is success? For me, it’s making sure that you enjoy what you do and have passion behind it. And then just grab the opportunities, which I was given.”
Emma: It’s interesting, your point about moving from a very women-dominated space to experiencing that switch; clearly you weren’t fazed by that. You took you on such an incredible journey here, and then moved to New York to open up the U.S subsidiary; what a journey to move from the small town to the Big Apple. So cool.
Along that journey, I can’t imagine all the people you’ve met along the way, from our employees —we’ve grown from 50 to over 1,000—to customers, partners. In that time, you must have learned so much about everyone’s digital transformation journey. Obviously, each one is different, but there’s always the ultimate goal to digitally transform.
I’m wondering if you’ve picked up on any commonalities across customer goals [for digital transformations] along the way?
Viktoria: I’m very happy you asked that question, because if I think about all the different customers I’ve visited, everybody wants to be faster. Everybody needs to digitalize now more than ever, right? AI; quantum; all those topics are on everybody’s mind. The common theme is that everybody has the same vision.
But everybody starts—or is at—a different stage of their journey. Three or four years ago I had the pleasure of visiting an insurance company in the U.S, and I was blown away; they do everything still manual. They showed me their rooms with files and files of insurance policies, and they said they were just then starting the digital journey. It meant consolidating the systems; everything needed to get into the digital space. Customers are at different stages of their journey, all with the the same vision.
“It’s very important to make sure that you have proper execution and a good plan, and a team that can support it. Good goals; a good roadmap; and a good plan—then nothing stands in your way.“
Emma: Yeah, so you’re looking at these major legacy systems. Forrester released a report last year where 51% of clients they interviewed were still in the manual testing phase, so we’re at that tipping point where we’re starting to get more customers automate, and be smarter with their testing. But ultimately the goal is the same: a good customer experience, and making quality software faster.
You’ve shared insights on numerous platforms. One was at the DevOps Fusion Conference, where you compared DevOps to running.
You said that running is a team sport, and so is DevOps. How do these things compare?
Viktoria: I always thought running is a sport for yourself that you do on your own. I tried a couple of times to get into running, and I always thought that’s just nothing for me. But two years ago, due to the pandemic, I thought, “OK, now I have to do it as the gyms are closed and I need to do something.” So I got into running, and I realized there’s a whole support system and team behind it.
“Running is a team sport, and you motivate each other, right? And it’s the same with DevOps. The role of the developer has changed over the last couple of years. Previously, it was the developers sitting in the basement writing code, but now it’s like a team sport as well. There’s the developer, there’s the business person, there’s the quality assurance person, and they all need to come together as a team. They all have different skillsets, and we need to make sure that at the end of the day, we are faster, and we have a great customer experience.“
Emma: Yeah, there’s that relation to the speed of running. But you have to pace yourself and you need the team behind it—the app, the tech, the supporters on the sideline—it is ultimately a big team. I really like that analogy.
As this series is in honor of Women’s History Month, it would be remiss not to ask: in 10 words or less, what advice do you have for women who are aspiring to leadership roles in technology today?
Viktoria: My advice is to take opportunities. I just talked about myself; I grew up in a small town, then I moved to Vienna, then to New York. Don’t be afraid and just take opportunities.
Emma: That’s awesome; don’t be afraid to fail. What’s the worst-case scenario? Get stuck in.
If you could have a magic wand here today, what’s one thing you would change for the application development world?
Viktoria: I think the future is very bright and I’m very excited about what we’re doing technology-wise. A topic which I think needs acceleration, or we should be really mindful about is customer-centricity. So really focus on the outcomes and what customers need. I think we should change our mindset to really focus on that, making sure that at the end of the day, all customers are successful and that we’re listening to them.
Emma: This reminds me actually; you have a Tricentis User Forum coming up in June, which is all about spotlighting our customers, on June 23. That’s the second one of its kind, spotlighting customers and their stories.
Could you share a little bit about what Tricentis User Forum is?
Viktoria: I’m super excited about this one, because I always say that sharing is caring.
“You have companies at the beginning of their transformation journey, then we have other companies—like a customer of ours that are releasing 30 times a day—which is very, very impressive. They are obviously very mature on how they deliver software. In that theme, we can learn from each other, which is why we have the Customer Forum in June.“
Viktoria: I’m very excited to have our customer speak there, and share their experiences, their challenges, and how they overcame them. I hope to see you there!
Emma: I think you’re referring to Torsten Welp with his Agile framework, implementing the CI/CD pipeline; the whole landscape is in place, and it’s just really incredible to see. If you have the chance to showcase that and really get to the detail, that’s awesome. I’ll see you there!
Because what constitutes as success is not fixed, it’s enlightening that Viktoria believes it’s about being passionate about what you do, and that passion really shines through in her case. It’s worth noting the common software testing methodologies of customers that Viktoria observes: a solid plan paired with proper execution is a winning combination.
Hear more from Viktoria in a webinar alongside other women leaders, championing women in tech and their achievements in driving digital transformations.
Check out the latest podcast episodes for more insights from thought leaders like Viktoria.