"I even took my first steps
on a basketball court"

Interview with Eva Marschall, Senior Project Manager IT Digital Workplace Solutions at PUMA

May 19, 2022

Interview with Eva Marschall, Senior Project Manager IT Digital Workplace Solutions at PUMA

May 19, 2022

Eva Marschall started as an intern, wrote her master´s thesis in the e-commerce department and now works in IT as Senior Project Manager IT Digital Workplace Solutions at PUMA. As part of our “She Moves Us” interview series, Eva speaks about her passion for basketball, how she brings her experience in professional sports into the business, about her work in the IT department and the importance of positive thinking.

Combine business and sports

Sports was always super important to Eva. She comes from a sporty basketball family. “I knew already when I was young that I would play basketball by watching my brothers. All my weekends and most of my free time I spend in a basketball gym”.

When she started to play, Eva would try to challenge her brothers by jumping in their basketball game but: “I was too tiny and didn’t manage to keep up with them. That’s when I became part of a girls team. I was still very young. I kept on playing for more than 20 years, even at a professional level. I played all the way to second Bundesliga in Germany”.

When Eva finished high school, she started searching for what she really wanted to do in life. “I did different internships. I went to a law firm to do an internship in the legal area; I went to a biology laboratory; I went to a kindergarten to work with children… I also went to a big software company for another internship and things started to click from that moment. I loved the atmosphere there. That’s when I decided to study business”.

During her years at university, Eva wrote a paper on sports brands and innovations. She started seeing how she could make business and sports fit in her life after all. “I knew what I wanted to do next. I wanted to continue to do business in an area which inspires me and for which I have a lot of passion which is sports”.

From there, Eva started to apply for an internship at a sports brand. That’s how she set foot at PUMA. “As soon as I started here, I knew that this was the kind of place I wanted to work. It was clear to me that the company gives you all the space to combine your private life with your work-life. I instantly felt welcome and part of the team, the corporate culture is open and energetic”. Eva looked for jobs within the company while she was interning. There was a position opening in the global eCom department which she had interviewed for her thesis and she immediately decided to apply. “It was actually quite funny because I had done the interview on my last day at work so I didn’t know if it would work out or not. I had a proper farewell party, a cake, tears and lots of people coming. Then three months later, I was back!”.

The best feeling ever

What Eva loves about sports is the competition. “Everybody loves to win and so do I, but to me it’s more about competing. It’s that moment when everyone gives their best. The overall efficiency and energy are increasing. The level of performance of the team is improving. That’s what I love about competition”. The same goes for her work, in Eva’s point of view. “It’s not about winning, it’s about winning as a team. It’s the best feeling ever”.


Work smarter and not harder

Eva says she applies the mindset she acquired in her athletic career. She enjoys working in a team. “When there is a bigger challenge, I sit down with colleagues, we discuss, we brainstorm and we look at the issue from different perspectives. This is how we find smart and digital solutions”.

One of Eva’s tasks in IT, for instance, is listening to people and how they do things in their daily work. They check the current process they go through in their work then, “We try to find ways to automate and digitalise, work smarter and not harder—that’s what my former boss used to say. It’s something I try to apply on a daily basis with the work we do in my team”.

The same applies to sports for Eva, “You always repeat things but every time you try to improve a little a bit, again and again. Everyone who trains in sports at a high level knows it’s a pain to repeat things over and over again. It hurts to make mistakes but then you also get better over time. All of a sudden, you notice that you already know things very well and that you have learned a lot. I love to learn and then to teach others the knowledge I’ve acquired”.

The most positive person

Eva’s role models growing up were mainly the women’s team in the club where she was playing basketball. “All these women are strong and independent. They were an inspiration”.

Eva’s mum is definitely also one of her role models. “She raised five children while being a working mum and still had enough time to make sure we were well cared for. She would tell me: ‘The most important thing is that you’re happy and feel good‘”.

Eva’s biggest role model though is her grandmother. She passed away a few years ago. “She was over 95 years old and she was the most positive person you can think of. She would go on her terrace and sit in the sun, being happy about the little things in life”. The positive energy Eva’s grandmother radiated and her love for others had a big impact on her. “When something is dragging me down or is challenging then I think of her. It makes me put things into perspective. She influenced the way I go about life, she still does today even though she’s gone”.


Pressure & Reflection

Eva thinks women are pushed to make decisions earlier in their lives. At school, she felt like the girls knew what they wanted, studied hard for it and were driven towards the goals they had set for themselves. “The guys would eventually get there too but they would pick up on that much later on. I feel that pressure is put on women earlier in their life”.

“Society still expects a lot from women”, says Eva. “I think society can be very harsh on girls. There is a lot of judging, a lot of comparisons being made among them and they are being pressed to fit into certain standards. I think so much is asked from younger women because we have to represent so many different things at the same time. That type of pressure makes you grow up quicker than you probably should. It makes you define your own values earlier in life”.

If you would say ‘kids’ is a women’s topic and ‘career’ is a men’s topic, that’s just unfair”, says Eva. “Obviously we’re are better than that today”. She hopes that by the time she decides to have kids, “We’ll be even more equal. I hope we allow women and men to make a fair decision on that. I wouldn’t judge any women who decides to have kids and stay at home; if that’s what makes you happy, go for it. On the other hand, I wouldn’t judge a man for making the same decision after his spouse goes back to work. It should be fair, everyone should find the best setup for themselves and their kids. I think it takes a lot of courage to stand up against the comments that might arise”.


Change with PUMA

It happens to me at least once every day that I’m the only woman in a meeting”. It happens more often now that Eva is part of the IT department. “I got used to it. It doesn’t make a difference to them so it doesn’t make a difference to me. We treat each other as equals”. Working on her skills and on her knowledge, being prepared beforehand helps Eva to be at ease in meetings no matter who’s sitting in front of her. “I developed a strategy on how I approach a meeting; I always try to be the person with the most information in the room so that if any question is being raised, I have an answer prepared.”

When Eva moved from global e-commerce to IT, she became a manager. A year later, she was promoted and today she is a senior manager. Half the team is reporting to her. “Changing position in my own team was probably the most difficult time in my career. I had to find out how to change the relationship within the team without messing everything up”. Eva needed to find a proper balance with the people she was working with. “I wanted everything to still work well and it did so it’s something I’m very proud of. I asked for help from people I knew who went through the same situation when they became a team leader. I wanted to know how they made sure to keep a pleasant working atmosphere in the team and still be successful”.


About working in IT

IT is about providing solutions that make our user’s daily work faster and more efficient. “This is what I like the most about my current position in the Digital Workplace team. We are looking for smart and digital solutions. Very often it is about listening to the users and understanding their struggles with our tools or in their current processes. We sit down with them, ask questions, define requirements and pain points and work together towards more smart solutions. IT is actually a lot about working with people and transparent, empathic and positive communication is key to it.

In IT, you need to bring a lot of energy and activism to push initiatives, motivate others, overcome obstacles and work in a team. On the other hand you need to be calm and resourceful to solve conflicts and find good solutions. I am an enthusiastic person by nature with a lot of energy, but many years of basketball taught me how important it is to calm down in crunch time situations when pressure is high and focus on a good strategy. I have learned to balance both skills and I am applying this on a daily base in my job.


Together play into your strengths

Eva would advise people to play into their strengths. When she started at PUMA, she went to the basketball court, there were a few guys playing and she said: “Hey, I want to play, can I join?”. This way she got to know more people and immediately felt as part of the PUMA family, she says. “Using sports to connect with others and the possibility to integrate it in your daily work is what makes working with PUMA so special.”


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