As Director eco International, Lars Steffen coordinates the international activities of the eco Association and is the contact person for member companies from the domain industry. In this interview with the eco #LiT – Ladies in Tech Initiative, he talks about his daily work, the ICANN78 in Hamburg, and highlights what’s great about his international team.
#LiT: What is your day-to-day work like as Director eco International at the eco Association and what do you find particularly exciting about your job?
Lars Steffen: As the International Team at eco, we have a brief meeting every morning and divide up the tasks: Translations of news, studies, position papers, new articles for dotmagazine, social media posts – every day we have to deal with the whole range of topics at eco. I find this wide spectrum to be particularly exciting.
#LiT: You work as a contact person for eco member companies worldwide and your team at eco is also comprised of international members. Looking back at the recent Diversity Day 23 May, we can of course note that the diversity dimension is not only about gender, but also about people’s origins. What is it that you like about working in multicultural teams – and do you perhaps also face particular challenges?
Steffen: The more diverse a team is in every angle, the more likely it is to be able to overcome a variety of challenges: gender, origin, language, different education, professional backgrounds or experiences – many of these factors often bring with them a wealth of so-called soft skills that you hardly ever find in a CV, but which come into play in a team and make a huge difference. This can be observed time and again in international forums such as ICANN or the eco Names & Numbers Forum Competence Group, and that is also what makes it so appealing to engage in such groups.
Humour can be a challenge. Different cultures have different senses of humour. Laughing together is always nice, but sometimes requires a little tact.
#LiT: What motivates you to get involved with the International Team in the area of Women in Tech?
Steffen: I have been working in the tech industry for most of my professional life. Fortunately, I have always worked in companies and teams that were and are very gender-balanced. I have always found this to be very pleasant, not only in terms of the quality of the work, but also in dealing with colleagues and clients. As I see it, others should also benefit from this positive approach and pay more attention to diversity.
#LiT: In October, Hamburg will become the hub of the Internet world: Together with DENIC eG and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, eco will host the ICANN Annual General Meeting ICANN78 in Hamburg. Around 2,500 participants in the fields of academia, the tech community, politics, industry and civil society from all over the world are expected to attend. What are the focal topics and how can eco member companies and their employees get involved?
Steffen: The agenda for the ICANN78 meeting has not yet been fixed, which means that we cannot yet precisely predict all of the main topics. But there are of course a number of topics that are currently being discussed intensively in the industry and that will certainly be at the top of the agenda in Hamburg. These include the next application round for new top-level domains, the replacement of the CEO post at ICANN, the handling of online abuse, or the publication of so-called WHOIS data.
Since ICANN works on the basis of a multi-stakeholder model, everyone can actively participate. Participation is free of charge. I can therefore only encourage everyone to come to Hamburg and experience it for themselves. ICANN has a wide range of offers for newcomers to orientate themselves at ICANN and to bring them up to date with the current discussion on the respective topics.
#LiT: As part of the Hamburg ICANN78 Accompanying Programme, you are putting together a joint plan with the DNS Women group, Women4Cyber and #LiT – Ladies in Tech: How did this come about, what can participants expect, and who can take part?
Steffen: The DNS Women group at ICANN has been around since 2009 with the aim of getting more women inspired to work in the industry. The eco Association has also been pursuing the same goal for several years with its “Ladies in Tech” Initiative. So it makes utter sense to use the ICANN78 meeting in Hamburg as an opportunity to bring both communities together.
#LiT: What is your career tip for women who want to make it in the tech industry?
Steffen: There’s so much that could be said and written about this. But if you want me to break it down to one aspect: Be self-confident and show what you can do. Competence is the be-all and end-all. If you show it, you can be sure of recognition – also from your male colleagues.
#LiT: If we gave you another interesting job and made you a podcast host, which people from the tech industry would you invite to a talk and what would you discuss with these guests?
Steffen: The founding and emergence of ICANN. We would talk to the founding Chair of ICANN, Esther Dyson, and her successor, Vint G. Cerf, to learn all about how ICANN was established and took its first steps as a multi-stakeholder organisation to coordinate the maintenance and procedures for the Internet’s Names and Numbers and to ensure stable and secure operation of the Internet.
- Thomas Rickert, Director Names & Numbers, eco would talk to
- Esther Dyson, Founding Board Chair (October 1998 – November 2000)
- Vint G. Cerf, Board Chair, (November 2000 – November 2007)
#LiT: As part of our interview series, we recently spoke with Kiki Radicke, Head of People and Culture at Adacor. Now we’d like to put a question to you that she offered for our next interview partner: “As a HR manager, much of my work revolves around bringing the right talents on board and nurturing these talents. What should a company offer to convince you that it’s the best employer for your career?”
Steffen: I believe that fairness and transparency are key factors – whether in dealing with managers and colleagues, career opportunities, salaries, etc. You feel more at ease with many of these aspects if fairness and transparency are guaranteed.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Lars Steffen is Director International at eco – Association of the Internet Industry (international.eco.de), the largest Internet industry association in Europe. At eco, he coordinates all international activities of the association and takes care of the members from the domain name industry.