Tanja Bächle

Senior Technology Partner Specialist

IBM Austria

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What does the USA mean for you personally?

I always considered the USA a country of unlimited opportunities. My first trips to the US were to New York and later to Miami and these trips created a fascination about the country, its people and the diversity of its heritage and culture.

Today, some years later with a more diverse perspective, the country possesses such an immense ability to innovate and advance technologies, drive sustainability so it could have an even more positive impact on society and the world in general. The sheer size of the country and the potential is almost unlimited.

What does the USA mean for your company?

As an employee with a long track record in an American multinational company, I’m still impressed how it has transformed itself over the many years. I started my career at IBM in 1996. Back in those days, as an apprentice, IBM was one of the most admired companies to work for in my area. It has always been a global company with strong US American roots that the company proudly embodies. It is the “Can do”-mentality, trust instead of control, empowerment, flexible working schemes that fit for purpose and many other aspects that I consider American.

How important are the relations between Austria and the USA?

From my perspective good relationships are important as thereby we can learn from each other. If I think about Austria and the USA, I can see the willingness to join forces and innovate, also the ability to take risks and talk about failures to improve itself.

Austrians’ willingness to innovate is not low, but talking about failures and obstacles are walls to tear down. Relationship is something which is happening through people, the understanding of each other and the differences of cultures are important to accept and respect. Austria might not be the largest partner of the USA but it certainly is one of the most precious ones – as a German I can say, hey we are proudly Austrian!

How can the relationship between the two countries be improved and intensified?

I guess there is no cookbook existing and improvement and intensifying relationships is something which is happening personal only on a people-to-people base.  Somebody to take and somebody to give. In my various roles during my career, I had the chance to meet talented people – and people are the power to make a change. I am not here to talk politics but that is certainly an aspect that can support good relationships.

What is Austria better at?

Vienna has been the most livable city in the world for many years according to the Mercer study so we did something right – but at the same time it is among the most unfriendly cities in the world according to a recent Expat study. But Vienna is not Austria, however a typical Business meeting at the Café-House builds a solid network and also helps to create formal and informal relationships.

I think promoting the personal relationship and the idea of sustainability works very well in Austria, including researching the reference to locality with a “BIO” approach. Austria has a great gourmet variety and by far the best Schnitzel in the world.

What is the USA better at?

Simply said, the USA is 35x bigger than Austria (Inhabitants) so the possibilities to be better in many aspects are obvious. As I mentioned the great gourmet variety of Austria; if there were a burger or sparerib contest the USA would surely win!

What can we learn from each other?

I don’t think countries learn from each other, it is the people who make the difference at all levels: politicians, visitors, residents, guests, expats, parents, kids, etc. Be interested and listening is a good way to learn from each other. Assuming what works well in one country will work in another country as well can lead to failure: bigger is not always betters and being smaller is not always a drawback. Accepting differences, speed and resources are the biggest opportunities to learn from each other.

What has been the best AmCham experience so far?

I joined the AmCham network as part of the “EmpowerHer” Initiative as a nominee of the company I work for. The collaborative work is valuable and trustworthy. The targets we set in the “EmpowerHer” Initiative does have the chance to change the way how we use networks and how we engage with female talents in the future. It is a subject close to my heart especially as a mother of 3 kids, amongst which there are two girls. I would hope that any future discussions would no longer involve men versus women, but that there would be a natural, equal filling of positions with the best talent, regardless of gender, marital status, or anything else.

What do you expect from AmCham?

I expect an open and honest exchange and the chance to connect with great people and organizations to learn. I guess the combination of different companies brings along the willingness for change. I believe that we need strong and open ecosystems be it at home or in professional life. No one can handle the challenges of today by themselves. In addition, the collaborative discussion between the community members has the potential to drive change. My ecosystem heart believes that the upcoming challenges around gender equality, sustainability, innovation etc. cannot be solved by one organization alone.