People and Culture

Canine wisdom fuels career growth: How a passion for dogs ignited Svenja's path to great mentoring & leadership

Explore how Svenja's passion for dogs and her background in psychology have enriched her tech-lead and mentoring role, driven by her courage and insatiable hunger for continuous learning and development. Witness how she adeptly balances her position as an Expert Mobile Engineer and People Lead, all while pursuing her side job as a dog coach.

4 minutes to read

People say dogs are a human’s best friend. After chatting to Svenja Teichmann, a Zühlke People Lead and Expert Mobile Engineer, it’s clear they’re also conduits for understanding how humans work. With a curious and open mind building strong connections to dogs might provide inspiration for mentoring and individual leadership approaches.

How have two seemingly unrelated topics combined so effectively? We should start at the beginning. 

“I was always interested in the UI side of things,” says Svenja. “That evolved into mobile front-end development post graduation, before finally specializing in Android. My first three roles — in media companies, smart home manufacturers and financial companies — helped me develop those skills.” When a colleague pointed out that Zühlke was participating in a event where companies pitch in front of developers, Svenja jumped at the chance. 

“The people who pitched Zühlke’s opportunities gave me the chance to think about what I really wanted from my next career step: super driven colleagues whom I could learn from, and a variety of big projects. Pretty quickly, I realized it was where I wanted to be.”

A whirlwind 14 months

Fast forward a year and Svenja is thriving. It took just nine months for a promotion — from Advanced to Expert Mobile Engineer. A dizzying mix of projects and responsibilities now keeps her on her toes.

We ask her what a ‘typical’ day might look like. Her answer? There isn’t one! 

Right now, she’s involved in two projects that rely on effective integration. “Each software element — from hardware drivers through to communication protocols to animations — needs smooth integration. I’m responsible for enabling Zühlke software team members to contribute the right thing at the right time in the right place during the project. In other words, I make sure we maximise the overall effectiveness of our processes.”

A culture of accelerate learning

From Day One, Zühlke left two major impressions on Svenja. One was the size of the projects she’d end up working on. The other - just as happily - was the company’s culture of helping peers develop.

“I quickly noticed just how much people are willing to help me. Whether it’s a small issue or a complex problem, I was always hungry to acquire new knowledge. Thankfully, there’s always someone in my network who’s got the answer. I quickly realised that asking questions is encouraged, even if it felt awkward at the beginning. From a technical perspective, that accelerates your skill sets."

“Honestly, everybody here loves what they do, but they’re also highly driven towards their goals. When you put that in the context of a culture where everyone tries their best to help each other — it’s quite a unique experience.”

Applying knowledge from an unexpected subject

Svenja admits that one of her favorite parts of the job wasn’t in her original plans. These days, her role as Expert Mobile Engineer is proudly shared with a separate title: People Lead. Roughly 20% of Svenja’s role is now dedicated to coaching and developing others. Her secret to success? A long-held passion for training dogs, which she pursues as a side job.

She says her way of leading individuals is influenced by core elements of Kynogogik® — a holistic approach to dog training. The methodology integrates personal experiences of both humans and dogs, fostering a deep and meaningful connection between them. Unlike rigid training techniques, it tailors solutions to specific situations, recognizing that every individual is unique and that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution.

Svenja discovered this alternative approach when attempting to teach her dog commands using a reward system of treats and praise. “Being incorruptible, she did not respond to traditional methods, so I had to broaden my horizon". Although the focus of Kynogogik® is on dogs, it has shaped Svenja's leadership style for the better:

"This technique provides meaningfulness by taking into account individual circumstances. It is based on the assumption that every individual is distinct, with different strengths and challenges, and therefore needs an individualized leadership approach."

Svenja's psychological background contributes not only to her performance as a People Lead, but also to project dynamics:

Looking forward to what the future holds

A mixture of exciting tech projects and mentoring opportunities means Svenja couldn’t be happier about her future with Zühlke. And she’s keen to point out why would-be candidates should keep the company in mind.

"I never thought my role would include so many diverse people and so much diverse expertise! If that sounds appealing, and you’re passionate and driven about the technology we work with, I couldn’t recommend it more.”

If we could hear her two dogs Sally and Fiete, we’re sure they’d agree!

Interested to work in a diverse and supportive environment?