PTV Insights: Women in IT

Farnaz Tepper is a geo computer scientist and since 2015 head of the Additional Content team at PTV Group

Women in tech-related positions have long been regarded as a true rarity. But has the situation improved in recent years? We talked with Farnaz Tepper about women in tech. Iranian-born Farnaz joined PTV as a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Data Engineer. As team leader, she is responsible for the Additional Content unit. In this interview, she tells us more about the challenges that women encounter in this field. 

Compass: Farnaz, you studied Geoinformatics. How did you come up with this idea?

Farnaz Tepper: When I went to school, I was very good at mathematics. It was easier for me to learn algebra and physics, to think analytically than to learn something by heart. In Iran, I was expected to become an engineer. Therefore, I studied Surveying at the State University of Tehran. After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I decided to do a Master’s degree in Geoinformatics as I was sure that this degree programme would be a step into the right direction and be more fun. IT, cartography, geometry and some software engineering – that was exactly the right combination, for both my graduate study programme at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and my Master’s thesis at PTV.

Compass: Were you as a woman and student enrolled in an engineering programme a rarity at your university?

Farnaz Tepper: In fact, there were a lot more men at my university, especially in the Surveying degree programme. But there were at least 20 percent women who studied Geoinformatics. In general, there are more women in the Data Business than in Software Development. However, I think there are now more women working in the IT business than in the past.  This is certainly due to the fact that they are increasingly interested in technical issues. Plus, it’s now easier to reconcile work and family life.

Compass: What do you think are the challenges that women face in this business field?

Farnaz Tepper: You have to cope with men (laughs). And you have to learn to argue convincingly and objectively, to stay cool and professional and not to take everything personally. This is how you can convince others and will be taken seriously.

Compass: You joined PTV as GIS Engineer and you are now head of the Additional Content unit. What are your daily tasks?

Farnaz Tepper: We focus on additional content for our software products for planning and optimization of traffic and transport logisitcs. The so-called feature layers, such as toll data or environmental zones, can be added to the digital maps. If, for example, a customer wants to include general restrictions in Europe in his map (e.g. driving ban on public holidays), we try to find the appropriate data provider. Otherwise it’s our team that collects the data and creates a concept on how the records can be converted and evaluated by the software. As team leader I have to coordinate multiple requirements from different areas.  I make sure that the different projects are kept on track, that the team works closely together and all communication and coordination processes run smoothly.

Compass: What do you like about your job at PTV?

Farnaz Tepper: PTV focuses on agile and productive processes. Everything is well structured within our team and is based on a concept that generates immediate results.  That’s what makes it fun. PTV is a great company to work for. My colleagues are extremely nice. With some of them I’ve been working together for years. But I’m also glad to see so many new faces. We are currently even looking for a new spatial data specialist. I’m already looking forward to our new team member who will hopefully join us soon.

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