CEO of IT Zeitgeist
“Making IT About People First, Not Technology”
IT Advisory on the path to Digital Transformation is not a Cookie Cutter approach. Barbara Wittmann, CEO, IT Zeitgeist, is not simply implementing software or a method following standardized checklists. She draws upon a baseline toolbox that contains Coaching, Process Modelling, Agile & Innovation Techniques, and pairs them up with the client’s leadership skills, team culture, software landscape, and vision to create an individualized solution. “I meet each of my clients where they are, creating an individual roadmap for the engagement. Digital Transformation is mostly about People and Relationships, and that means as Advisor it is critical to bring empathy and deep listening to each engagement.”
Barbara believes women have spent way too much energy trying to encrypt and mimic male behavior for a successful career. “I have fallen into that trap myself, and it took me years to crack that hard protective shell I had built around me,” she states. “I believe teams and companies thrive, when women are allowed to bring their unique traits to the table fully. It is o.k. to be vulnerable, display emotions, and act on intuition. That is what I encourage in young female leaders.” The steadfast leader strongly advises one to know where they stand, understanding their core values. “I also encourage young leaders to be clear on their definition of success. Our world always ties success to money. Success can also be having the abundance of time or doing work that impacts the world for the better.”
For Barbara, the most significant source of inspiration is Nature, and she encourages everyone to use that source to find balance and inspiration. She came upon a quote by Maya Angelou that has been a source of inspiration since for her—“Success is loving yourself, loving what you do and loving how you do it”—this simple quote holds a lifetime of learning, stretching, and thriving.
When Barbara started her company in 2006, it became a little more complicated, as she was considered a role model to her partners and employees. For her, it was important to be the best leader she could be and constantly work on expanding her skillset and uncovering leadership and personality blind spots.
“For inspiration I turned to pancultural wisdom and based my company culture and growth on the age-old dynamics of a tribe and village. Building my company on these principles resulted in a leadership book I published outlining my journey: “Meetings in Moccasins” – Balboa Press.” While writing the book, she had the opportunity to interview inspiring CEOs and Leaders. Antje von Dewitz, CEO of Vaude (Outdoor apparel company), had a lasting impression on her, who took a family-owned business to the next level of culture, innovation, and sustainability. “To me, every leader is a role model who brings soul to their work and industry.”
Zeitgeist is hinting to Barbara’s German heritage. She moved to the US in 2016 for Love, built 2 successful IT companies in Germany (one a Boutique Consultancy and another a Custom Software Development company). With the move to the US, she changed her business model from having employees to working with a hand-selected, tight-knit partner network. Zeitgeist means ‘the spirit of time’. “I picked that word because there is nothing static in IT. IT Zeitgeist makes IT Simple, Sage & Strategic. What does that mean?
• Simple – I teach my clients and their team to translate complex Technology into Business Value to bridge the gap between Business & IT
• Sage – leveraging existing wisdom in the organization, team, and leadership
• Strategic – by applying industry and technology trends to digital transformation roadmaps.”
The biggest achievement for the company has been supporting the growth of a client’s IT team from 15 to 65 people to match the company’s growth and innovation needs. IT Leadership established a strong team foundation, governance standards, a shared mental model, and stakeholder support in that process. IT transformed from a pure operations role to an innovation driver.
Currently, Barbara is working on a Leadership Development Program targeted for IT Leaders. “As IT Leaders we all hold a big responsibility, as we are essentially shaping the world for the next generation. Having the wisdom to make ethically sound decisions and advocate for them will fall upon the IT Leaders. That calls for new set of muscles to be developed to strengthen leadership beyond technology.” IEWL
CEO of IT Zeitgeist
The term Digital Transformation is used everywhere. It is a huge change that we cannot escape anymore. With 2020 we just stepped into what experts call the Connected Decade and recent world events with COVID-19 made it even more pressing to innovate business models and thus IT offerings.