AiAllies – Veronika Marečková, Škoda Auto
As a Digital Products & Services Specialist working for ŠKODA AUTO, Veronika Marečková has been heavily involved in a number of successful projects with the automotive giant in recent years, including her recent involvement in the development and design of ´Laura´ a Conversational AI solution that the company has recently expanded further across Europe following the strong success of the project over the past two years.
However, when speaking to Artificial Solutions about her journey and pathway into the technology and automotive industry, Veronika immediately highlights that she never imagined she would be in such a position.
“It may surprise a lot of people” she said.
“But I never thought about the technology sector as an industry to be a part of, never mind being part of the #AiAllies initiative and working on such interesting projects.”
“I studied Public and Social Policy with a strong focus on human sciences during my studies and over the course of my master’s degree at Charles University in Prague. People always laugh at that when I tell them about my education, they don’t know how I ended up working on digital products for ŠKODA AUTO.”
Following the completion of her studies, Veronika found herself in a position that many other graduates face. What next?
“I went through all of the career possibilities I thought I had and there were so many things that interested me, but nothing felt right.”
After an internship and spending some time abroad as part of the Erasmus scheme, Veronika decided to look a little closer to home in search of the right path.
“I was born and raised in Mladá Boleslav, where ŠKODA AUTO was founded and remains based today. My grandmother, mother and aunty all worked for ŠKODA AUTO, so I decided to try an internship with the company.”
“I started out with an internship in the department of quality which was really interesting, but not quite me so I moved into aftersales marketing. After gaining some experience and contacts within aftersales area, I started working full time in business development of aftersales with a focus on customer satisfaction and quality. I was able to learn a lot about communication and I was able to apply some of the skills I had learned while studying. After two years, I was then offered the role I currently have.”
Finally, something clicked.
“I had never worked with digital marketing or online products and so I hesitated at first. Fortunately, I took the risk and thought I should give it a go and I have never looked back. I´m now responsible for a few products that support digital customer journeys, which includes Conversational AI and the solution we have developed using Teneo.”
Having only joined ŠKODA AUTO´s Conversational AI project in February 2022, Veronika is still fresh to the technology and learning about its impact on customers.
“I don’t work on coding and I don’t have any development skills, but that doesn’t mean I can’t work in the tech industry. The skills I have are more focused on understanding people and finding ways to connect with them and I think a lot of people can be successful if they think they are empathetic.”
Advising the Next Generation of Women in Tech
For Veronika, the message is clear. Even if you have never worked with technology and even if you think you don´t have relevant skills, try anyway and see what happens.
“I never imagined where I would end up because I had no knowledge on this area. There are so many interesting projects focused on technology that you can find a niche that suits you best. But, you can only find them if you try different things out.”
Like many other women entering the tech sector as well as the automotive sector, which may be perceived as a male-dominated space, having great role models proved to be an important influence.
“I never felt that the automotive industry was closed to me because my mother, grandmother and aunty all worked at ŠKODA AUTO. That’s a really lucky thing to have and definitely helped me in my decision to join. I have also been lucky enough to work with a lot of really inspiring women who have supported me and my goals.”
On working life as a woman in tech and automotive, Veronika has yet to face major issues related to her gender.
“Maybe I’m just lucky! It never even occurred to me that I would be treated differently because it never happened. I always had confidence in my capabilities as a professional and I always expected that to be respected first and foremost.”
“I think having confidence is key and you need to have faith in your skills. But having confidence also means being humble enough to ask for help when you need it. I think a lot of women may struggle with that.”
A strong emphasis on networking is also a key point for Veronika, who says social media should be leveraged as much as possible.
“Go out and connect with people who do the job you want. Ask them for advice on how they got to the position they are in and what resources they would recommend, you’´ll be amazed by the support you can find.”
And for women who are still unsure about entering the technology sector, Veronika ended saying:
“The tech sector offers a huge opportunity to find a job you can love and be successful in, even if you have no idea about technology! I’m so proud of the position I have secured for myself and I’m really enjoying the learning process. Technology is constantly evolving, so there are new things to discover every day. I can be creative and come up with ideas that are put into practice using innovative products and that is really exciting.”
Learn more about the opportunities and campaigns to get more women into senior positions at ŠKODA AUTO, here.
Connect with Veronika on LinkedIn, here.
To understand how ŠKODA AUTO utilized Teneo to build and scale an industry-leading Conversational AI project to drive growth across Europe, read our case study, available here.