Not afraid of stepping up and always ready for opportunities – Dr. Kerstin Oberprieler helps, organizations and employees thrive by unlocking employee motivation using cutting-edge behavioral science & gamification. She is the Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer at PentaQuest.
An interview conducted between Dr. Kerstin Oberprieler and Insights Success shows her genuine desire to serve the clients, PentaQuest, & the world. Below are the highlights of the interview:
Kindly take us through your journey on becoming a proficient business leader.
I started PentaQuest with the idea of making work more fun. My background is in psychology and commerce and I always had people comment that this was an odd combination. My response was always “Really? People and business are the most logical combination in the world”. Outside of my career I have also represented Australia in Taekwondo and was always search for ways to hack my own performance and motivation. So when I came across the concept of gamification in 2013, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. I started applying gamification to my colleagues at the time and became fascinated by this methodology for bringing about behaviour change in the workplace. I also began my Ph.D. in workplace gamification.
“Be PASSIONATE about making a DIFFERENCE – DELIGHT the world!”
It wasn’t long before I had requests from clients to help them apply this same approach to improve their workplace experience, and so PentaQuest began.
We now serve clients all over the world, delivering consulting on gamification and behavioural science as well as having a Software as a Service platform to give the power of game mechanics to our clients to help them help their organisations to thrive.
As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? And how did you overcome it?
One barrier I’ve experienced is being taken less seriously than my male counterparts. This is incredibly frustrating. I’ve had male leaders of similar experience to me be condescending and assume that I know less than they do, purely because I am a woman. I find other women do not have this bias upfront.
To overcome this, I surround myself with other women leaders, especially those whose businesses are bigger, older or better than mine. I also surround myself with men and women who believe in me and my business, so that my circle is fully supportive of me and my endeavours. Life’s too short to surround yourself with people who block or hinder you.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
It’s easy for your business to take over your whole life because you are so passionate about it. But it’s important to understand that work is one part of life and that other areas need to be cared for in order for work to do well. I’ve come to appreciate just how important rest is to fuel my energies for work.
Some of the strategies I use include having a set finish time for work (sometimes hard with international meetings), a strict rule of no work on Saturdays, and giving plenty of time to my martial arts practice. I find that when I take a break from work to focus on exercise, friends and family, and relaxation, that I come to work with more energy and creativity.
How do you diversify the company’s offerings to entice the target audience?
PentaQuest is at the leading edge of organisational cultural transformation through intuitive and engaging products and gamification services. We have quickly realized that the typical manifestation of gamification falls far short of its potential; companies that are offering gamification products build these around simple competitions and gimmicks and have missed the opportunity to build solutions that leverage big data, social and behavioural sciences, and psychology, all in a seamless user interface design. Through the integration of these disciplines, PentaQuest is able to offer customers unique capabilities and solutions that engage their employees and shift the culture towards one of high performance based on innovation, strategic focus, and agency, and enjoyment.
How do you cope up with capricious technological trends to boost your personal growth?
Technology is part of modern life and will only become more ubiquitous. As the leader of a technology-based business, I embrace new technologies and like to explore their potential for increasing human potential and higher-performing workplaces.
What are the vital traits that every business women should possess?
It’s often debated whether women leaders should act more like men (stereotypically ruthless and objective) or more like women (stereotypically more caring and emotive). This dichotomy is untrue and harmful of course. But the truth is that women are still underrepresented in business leadership. And this is especially so in start ups and technology business. So vital traits for business leaders include a clear vision, determination and grit to achieve this, and a genuine desire to serve your clients, your team, and the world.
Where are you focusing your energy right now, and where do you hope to make an impact next?
PentaQuest grew rapidly in 2020 due to the increased recognition and need to engage staff remotely, and do so in a human, appreciative and even fun way. So, our focus currently is on continuing with this momentum. We have a well-established client base in Australia and the government sector, and our focus is to grow our reach to ensure that we support more businesses, and help their teams thrive.
What would be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women and how can one be a strong role model for them.
I see so many amazing young women entering the workforce. My hope is that some of the barriers women face are fading and the next generation does not need to deal with these as much. A truly equal workplace may take a few years or decades yet, unfortunately.
Gender aside, I see the biggest challenge for the next generation (as well as existing ones) to be that of climate change. Climate change is the biggest challenge facing us all and it will affect generations to come.