Women in Architecture Spotlight – Jean Gehring

Featured in this week’s spotlight is Jean Gehring, Global Managing Partner of Lean 42 GmbH.

Gehring sets the direction at Lean 42 GmbH and oversees its CIO advisory activities across Central Europe and the U.S.

She works with IT executives to cultivate C-level competencies and architect meaningful change to make organizational and technology transformations possible.

A recognized thought leader on emergent strategies and enterprise architecture, jean’s career spans more than 25 years in leading it organizations and managing operational architecture within financial, insurance, retail, manufacturing, and high-tech companies.

We sought her out for her perspective, which she shares in the following interview.

Question: How did you get your start in the industry?

Answer: I had the privilege to work for Ivar Jacobsen, the father of UML, early on in my career. Through Jacobsen, I learned component architecture, design thinking, and use-case-driven development which launched my passion for enterprise architecture. I attribute Dr. Brian Cameron, Associate Dean and Founding Director of the Center for Enterprise Architecture at Pennsylvania State University for helping me to apply my passion at the global level through FEAPO.org.

In terms of leadership, Lois Zell, a trail-blazing female pioneer in computer science, was my mentor.  Through Zell, I gained skills on how to navigate, influence and drive leadership impact as a woman in tech and understand that EA is both a converter and a bridge:  a converter of business strategy and a bridge to technology.

Q: What is your current responsibility and what is your typical day like?

A: Being a Global Managing Partner is exactly where I need to be at this time in my life.  I am excited about my Mondays the way most people are thrilled about their Fridays.

My passion for applying Emergent Strategies and EA is also my purpose at Lean42. I collaborate with some of the most inspiring IT leaders across the globe to architect meaningful change for their organizations and help them deliver new value propositions to their business partners.

I am accountable for delivering the advisory services our clients require to architect and realize their organizational and technology transformations. My days are split between meetings with clients on future-facing topics and working with my team to assess the clients’ current and future state transformation opportunities, inclusive of people, processes, and technology.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: As I stated, my clients are some of the most inspiring and smartest people I’ve ever worked with.  I gain an enormous amount of satisfaction working with them to problem solve, influence change, and help them deliver real business value.

I’m happiest when I work with organizations to amplify the impact and effectiveness of their strategic and EA resources.  I love taking a 360-degree view of an enterprise, decomposing its architectures, and creating roadmaps to maximize investment value and deliver transformative solutions. Additionally, my CEO, Karsten Voges, shares my mindset on EA.  His approach has changed the operating models for many of our clients and he promotes greenfield thinking across my team. Every day I’m doing what I love – so how great is that?

Q: What trends in architecture are you looking out for the rest of 2023 and 2024?

A: I am both a CIO Advisor and avid EA Researcher.  I see first-hand where executives need support and hear what their future-facing challenges are. The three topics most discussed are:

Continuous Delivery will continue and the shift from project to product will become the norm. Traditional IT siloed “towers” will be integrated into cross-functional teams organized around an end-to-end value stream. EA can serve as the catalyst for Continuous Delivery. EAM tools can provide the transparency across the IT landscape and tailored EA Services can support solutions such as; Design thinking and business models, Strategic Road mapping, Capability-Based Planning, Application Investment Planning – among others.

Distributed Decision-Making will become the way teams make more democratic and less centralized decisions. Each team is responsible for the design, operations, realizations, and future-state direction of their business area. The EA role shifts to a facilitator. The democratization of EA will evolve how IT operates and the type of tooling it needs for success and will optimize collaboration between teams resulting in a freer flow of information across the business.

Digital Business Optimization will continue to be the best way for businesses to future-proof themselves against leaner times and heightened competition. The trends of Enablement, Optimization and Transformation change initiatives will continue well past 2025.

Using modern EA tools and services, architects can spot gaps and build a strong data-driven defense, view opportunities for cost efficiencies, and see ways to boost productivity.

I’m in alignment with the Enterprise Architecture Trend Report issued by Info-tech Research Group Aug 05, 2022. It states that over 50% of businesses revamped their EA programs to address Business Digital Transformation and I see this percentage growing.

Q: What is one thing we can do to support or increase the women in architecture?

A: The technology industry leads the world in innovation, but it is one of the worst sectors for gender inequality – we are in tech, so we are part of the problem.

As President of FEAPO.org I conducted research that reflected the under-representation of women in the tech industry, although the information is dated, I think it still holds today.

  • Less than 5% of tech start-ups in the US are owned by women.
  • In 2019 the National Science Foundation’s study listed that 38% of women who majored in tech are working in the field compared to 53% of men.
  • Women are not only underrepresented in tech, but they are also underpaid. In 2019 women who worked in architecture and engineering occupations made 83 cents to the dollar men earned

We need to step up and be advocates. It is important to mentor women or launch mentor communities within your organization. This can positively impact female employee engagement and retention. If you are in management then promote women into leadership roles. The lack of representation hinders a woman’s ability to succeed in the tech industry. It limits mentorship opportunities and can foster gender bias in a company’s culture leaving women without a clear path forward.