It was already past midnight when I drove home on my bike. The stormy weather earlier that evening had calmed down, but the broken branches on the bike lane showed that the little sister of storm Dennis had passed by. However, it wasn’t the strong wind that kept me up that night — it was excitement, like the adrenaline after an intense sporting activity. Before you think this is the beginning of some weird, spooky novel, let me reassure you: I was just excited about being part of madewithlove’s first People Leadership dinner.

Andreas welcoming our guests

This dinner was the fourth edition in a series of similar events. At the previous editions, we gathered CPO and CTO profiles of start-ups and scale-ups around the table, but this time we wanted something different. During our last retreat, we had an interesting discussion about our struggle with diversity. One of the initial suggestions was to organize a women-in-tech-only dinner to listen to their opinion on the subject. Since this idea was dropped because of the positive discrimination aspect, we chose to aim at the persons in charge of HR related matters in their company. Which HR challenges are they facing in a tech environment? How do they attract a diverse workforce or how do they ensure internal inclusion? These were the questions of the evening.

We’ve also interviewed Elena De Marco, Happiness Manager at Skipr who gives her opinion on the HR challenges in tech. We’ll add the short videos on our LinkedIn. Stay in the loop by following us there.

Elena De Marco (Skipr) being interviewed by Andreas

A casual setting, as usual

The event setup was light and informal as usual. Although we partnered up with Personio to organise the event, the focus of events like these is networking in a pleasant and casual setting and getting to know the people that work in similar contexts as you. Firma provided some nice drinks and a healthy dinner again and the simple idea of switching places after each course is just genius to speak to as many different people as possible (truth has to be told that we forgot to switch after the main course this time, but personally I was in very good company so I didn’t mind).

I had to check with some colleagues – I didn’t join the previous editions to be clear – but I think this dinner was different from the CTO and CPO dinners in two ways. First, we had a fifty percent female audience for the first time. The previous events had a male-only audience mainly due to the specific function profile so, in terms of diversity, we had a nice mix.

Helen Walsch ( and Iman Lamrani (Eximium Recruiting)

Second, the attendees also had very different roles this time: happiness officers, headhunters, recruiters, operations managers, COOs, even a stray CTO. Although the titles were very diverse, most responsibilities were very common.

The importance of operations

Reflecting on this, something started to dawn. It looks like tech start-ups don’t invest in supporting roles that quickly in their early years. All HR, office management, and other non-defined tasks seem to accumulate with the first person who ever volunteered for these kinds of tasks. Hence this personal note to all start-up founders and CEOs: don’t wait too long to support the operational side of your business. It is crucial for the long term survival and the culture of your company so please make sure to invest in this area of your business as well. Thank you!

To conclude, I had a very enjoyable evening. I got to know a dozen new people who all experience the same challenges in their jobs and companies. On April 1, madewithlove is organizing another CTO dinner in collaboration with and AWS. I am sure other colleagues are better suited to join this event, but I will definitely look forward to a next edition where we bring professionals to the table who focus on the human part of tech. Cheers!

Do you want to join the next one?

Interested in joining a dinner with us? Reach out on Twitter or via our contact form! Maybe we will see each other very soon.