Henrietta (@phenriettak) is an Espoo girl who has set her heart to organize Rails Girls workshops all over Europe. Read her interview here and learn what diplomacy and coding have to do with each other, how to find developers as a non-technical person and why Henrietta will be wearing tattoos this summer.
Henrietta studies at the Vienna Uni of Economics and Business, is in the core team building the Pioneers Festival and actively involved in Aaltoes, the student-startup community of Helsinki. She also manages to do yoga, teach children English and be scout leader, too.
What’s your background? How did you end up in Wien?
I went to Intl. schools in Finland, after graduating packed my backsack for India, and went to work there for 1,5yrs. I was 18 yrs old and eager to see something new. My sys had been there and had a contact- we sorted out a simple job and after the company saw I had potential, I started organizing events and corp.travels all over India & SE Asia.
After that, I wanted to study in Europe and somehow ended up in Vienna- it’s a lovely city, and I had a few friends there who helped me out with the start (and taught me German).
I’ve been active on the diplomatic field (which is probably a reason why Vienna seemed like a good option): in school times was representing at MEP:s etc. and afterward worked for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.. until Linda grabbed me to organize Steve Blank’s visit to Finland. That’s when I took a dive into the startup/tech scene, ended up touring in the Valley and never looked back.
What can you tell about organizing a programming event for women in central Europe?
It’s exciting!! Time-consuming but not difficult. The response has generally everywhere been super supportive, and I’ve gotten more help than ever expected, in terms of coaches volunteering, pr, contacts, sponsors, everything. A sponsor in Berlin, for example Henrik from Readmill even hustled us another sponsor Amen. So yeah, we’ve been welcomed with open arms everywhere! The first time I touched base with Berlin, for example, was during LeWeb when Charlette from 6W told me that Rails Girls can’t miss Berlin, and coincidentally I also met Ela there, too, who invited us to Railsberry in Krakow!
What has been difficult? What has been easy? Any tips for someone interested in organizing a local Rails Girls event?
It’s easy to get started because the structure of the events is so straight-forward. There’s a set of things you need to arrange, and as long as you keep your mails sorted, act early, keep transparent and clear about all whoever you work with, gdocs updated and magic in mind everything will work out. I have to say though, that without the support of Linda it would have been quite tedious to organize everything alone, so one should have a team of two or three for the smoothest and least tiresome path.
How have you been able to find developers not having a technical background?
It’s actually fairly easy to find developer communities and many of them are more than willing to help for such a good and fun thing. Also many of the sponsors offered kindly their networks or their own developers to lend! I’m astonished how many coaches offer to support the attendees also after the event (and they promise this before the event). Twitter rules in spreading the word.
What are you looking forward about the event?
What’s not to look forward to! I want to meet all the amazing people, come up with crazy ideas during the event flow (like design a new logo, make a RG radio show, anything!), bentobox exercise, see the air filled with laughter, building stuff, enthusiasm and stars.
Oh, the biggest thing I’m super psyched about: printing our superkickingfragelistic tattoos (for the afterparty). I can’t grow a beard but I’m gonna wear atleast five tattoos. Throughout 2012.
Rails Girls is the best magic maker ever. Amen.