he supervisory board of IAKW-AG confirmed your as spokesperson of the board for another five years. In 2012, you were not only the first woman to hold this position, you were also only 32 years of age. Did you have any doubts about your ability to do this job? No, I didn't. In my prior positions, I had permanently been confronted with new challenges, but I can rapidly adapt to new situations. I had already directed teams and gained lots of negotiating experience, for example in 2005 during Austria's EU Council Presidency as tax expert or also in the years I worked for several finance ministers as political advisor. It is really important to set yourself goals and to consistently strive to achieve these. It's also important to act with confidence and to trust yourself to master new challenges. Something that certainly also played a role is that I was always fortunate enough to have great leadership persons who demanded a lot and at the same time supported me, which made a strong impression on me.
Dr. Susanne Baumann-Söllner and Austria’s Minister of Finance Hartwig Löger present the model of the Austria Center Vienna 2022. PHOTO: IAKW AG/LUDWIG SCHEDL
DR. SUSANNE BAUMANN-SÖLLNER...
...sits on the board of the Austria Center Vienna (ACV), Austria's biggest congress center. In 24 lecture rooms for between 100 and 4,320 participants, 180 meeting rooms and 22,000 sqms of exhibition space, it can accommodate up to 20,000 delegates. Thanks to its location right next door to the Vienna International Centre – one of the four international United Nations headquarters – it is the only conference center that is directly linked to a UN site.
And then you went and topped that all by becoming pregnant two years later. How did the supervisory board and your team react? Fortunately, pregnancy as before is considered something quite natural. Both in the public sector as well as corporate world, there are numerous women in managerial positions setting examples for the compatibility of career and family life. As a consequence, my pregnancy wasn't really any issue. All major decisions for the time immediately following birth had been made, and I received great support from my team. In the meantime, I've had another baby. My staff reacted very positively, many of them have had children themselves in the past five years.
Do you offer them flextime models or a home-office program? It was important to me right from the very beginning that we as publicsector enterprise must set a pattern for others. Numerous public initiatives have been launched, and it's important that we put these into effect. The first thing I did was to institute payment of a childcare allowance, reduce core working hours and, wherever possible, propose home- office arrangements. Both men and women take parent leave. We've decided to approach our customers as well, and we now offer free childcare programs at major congresses.
Is it possible to hold managerial positions in part-time? Yes, it's possible, but it depends a lot on the person. If senior executives really want it and if they lead their team accordingly, there is always a way to combine family and career.
The ACV is doing great; you have plans to invest €32 million through 2022. Do you lead differently than your male predecessors? That's up to others to judge: I see myself as being straightforward, transparent and team-oriented. It takes a committed, motivated and competent team to achieve outstanding results. The modernization project is a prime example: we've been working on this project for four years, and I am absolutely delighted to present our plans for the Austria Center 2022. KERSTIN WÜNSCH
„Es ist ganz wichtig, sich Ziele zu setzen und diese auch konsequent zu verfolgen.“
Dr. Susanne Baumann-Söllner, Vorständin des Austria Center Vienna (ACV)