Anne Høyer, Founder of Group Saint Honoré, Copenhagen Goodwill Ambassador and Chairwoman of Advisory Board at Smart IoT London
is an expert in IoT data driven innovation, who started her technology career at SAP and quickly progressed to a global role in the industry. In 2017 Anne was named one of the top 30 inspirational women in Technology by Inc.com and in 2019 she was elected official Goodwill Ambassador for the Grater Copenhagen Region, globally representing her country’s capital in technology. Anne holds several board seats in the tech space and is a frequent keynote speaker and business advisor on the topic of innovation.
Deck 7: Could you tell us about yourself and your journey to founding Group Saint Honoré?
ANNE HØYER: I have always been an entrepreneur by heart and never been afraid to test new experiences. From starting associations to pioneering podcasts in Denmark, so when I switched my career from marketing to technology this opened up possibilities to use my acquired skills in a new industry. I spend my first years in several roles at SAP focusing on IoT, Product Go-To-Market and Strategic Partnerships on a global scale.
Since moving on to France to start the business consulting offer for SAP Emerging Tech at a large consulting company I have gotten a good grip of the start- and scale-up ecosystem and this led me to realize the need there is to support scale-ups. Not just in France but globally. These companies can build incredible product but is not yet at the stage where they can scale on business development and sales. Yet, they are also not at the magnitude where large consulting firms dedicate too much time. So, this is where we step in. At GSH we have marketing business development and sales professionals ready to support this journey. And how fun it is for us to be part of the next big in tech!
"Think of your network as a muscle, Exercise it, put it to use – it only makes it stronger."
D7: What challenges do you encounter as a woman innovator in a male-dominated field like technology? How would you describe the participation of women in the field now as compared to before?
AH: This is a tough one. When I first entered the industry I was blind to what was actually going on. Coming from marketing I was used to working in a very female dominated environment and entered tech with the same mindset. Quite quickly I realized that that was not the case. It is not just a matter of speaking your mind and power through, it is not just the lack of women in the field it is unfortunately still the case where gender bias is at is fullest.
What I have seen is organizations pushing to get more women in tech (and STEM in general) jobs and they do also manage to attract them. But the problem is later on in their careers. Once they meet the more close-minded employees that does not understand this new wave of skilled and mindsets suddenly coming into their organization, Then it becomes toxic and that I have seen breaks talented and hard working women.
This is of course a massive problem because not only does it affect these womens health and everyday life it also affects the industry as we are cutting away half the potential workforce.
"Partnerships and collaborations are vital in technology. You need to understand who you are addressing your product to, not just from a technology point of view, but also from an experience point of view."
D7: In one of your interviews, you talked about collaboration on IoT projects. What other suggestions would you make for companies that are looking to get started with an IoT project?
AH: Yes, partnerships and collaborations are vital in technology. You need to understand who you are addressing your product to, not just from a technology point of view, but also from an experience point of view. The potential customers are starting to understand what it is that data can do, and also the value of the data. And this shouldn’t scare any companies off, but it should be a leveraging point for both parts. For example, if you as a software developing company wants to sell a product within IoT that collects data perhaps retro-fitted from a machine owned by your customer, they are aware that this data that you are collecting might have value for you and they will start negotiating on that point, and so should you. Data has a value all the way from before you sign the contract.
D7: Vendors and suppliers constitute the backbone of any business enterprise. What are the most crucial aspects that result in a long-lasting relationship with them?
AH: I try to bring in strong partnerships to my vendors and suppliers. There has to be a win-win from both sides.
Not only because it fosters a good, long-lasting relationship but if we can work well together, we can innovate together. Understanding your business from the outside in, has great power for creating new market opportunities.
"It is not just a matter of speaking your mind and power through, it is not just the lack of women in the field it is unfortunately still the case where gender bias is at is fullest."
D7: You have been greatly representing Denmark's technological capital on the global stage. What would you recommend other countries to do, to encourage innovation in technology?
AH: I’m very proud to be able to represent my country globally, especially with a focus on technology and by doing so as an official ambassador. But I’m also very lucky that I come from a very digitalized nation. The Danish citizens are very well versed in using technology in their everyday life. And I would say it’s highly due to the Danish government that is investing in the topic, and very early on. It makes it easy for individuals, citizens, research institutions, and corporations to constantly explore and test boundaries of technology that has been leading to innovation. It is also possible for foreign countries to penetrate the market faster as the digital adoption is very high. One thing, however, I do believe there should be more focus on, is education. As a nation, we have to focus on educating people more on what is the impact of signing off your data rights.
Second of all, there should be more focus on rules and regulations within technology. It’s definitely coming, we are seeing the European Commission pushing really hard on this on all aspects. But there is going to be a gap at some point where countries should focus on educating people. And I think by doing so, you will have this digitized and digitalized nation that understands data and it’s going to help on the global stage as well by being digitally native.
D7: What is your superpower?
AH: To connect information fast. When working in technology and big data, understanding the problems of customers while combining the availability of data in the company and in the ecosystem, I can quickly find solutions to leap from.
Another thing I have learned to master, is networking. Networking in this field, especially working with startups and in innovation, having a strong network is essential. My recipe behind this is. Know your worth, know what you have to offer and then address people as people. You might meet a global CIO of a large corporation, but she’s just still a human and you should address her, respectfully, like that. And think of your network as a muscle, Exercise it, put it to use – it only makes it stronger.