What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever had?
You only regret the things you don’t do – I guess that’s career and life advice ;-)
What has been the most influential impact on your leadership career and why?
I would lie if I’d say my previous managers didn’t have a considerable impact on my career. I think when becoming a people manager – or dare I say a leader – you often think back to the ones who led you previously. I am fortunate to have been managed by some great people and supported by inspiring mentors throughout my career. It’s so important – especially in the early days – to have that senior stakeholder in the business who believes in you.
The strong women in my life growing up had a major influence on the kind of leader I became. From my mum and aunt (a social pedagogue and a psychologist) I learnt that most of the time asking questions – not providing answers – is the best form of leadership. And whatever leadership style you may be testing out at the moment: authenticity is key.
What career advice would you now give to yourself 10 years ago?
Adopt a growth mindset! Whilst there are theories and debates on nature vs. nurture and whether the environment or genetics have a bigger impact on your skillset – I decided and would advise to believe in the nurture part because most things can be learnt if they’re repeated.
Don’t compare yourself with others because they simply haven’t had the same experience as you and don’t expect to perform well all the time because it’s impossible. If one time doesn’t work out quite the way you had imagined it, this doesn’t make you a person that is not good at xyz (identity level). It is ok and valuable to make mistakes as long as you learn from them…
This thinking helped me tremendously. It makes you try new things and not turn down opportunities just because you think you don’t have it in you genetically. Today, looking at some of the world’s leaders on stage I know – practice makes perfect and they’ve done it a million times.
What is the biggest challenge you think you and your industry peers will face in the next ten years?
Many opportunities and challenges lie ahead of us so I’d like to focus on the following six areas:
- Data is the new oil: How do Marketeers draw meaningful conclusions from data? How do we build teams that are digitally savvy? How do we keep up with the need to continuously upskill?
- Innovate or die: The pandemic has shown – trends that would take five years or more can take place in a few months. How do companies stay ahead of the curve?
- The war for talent: How do we attract and retain digitally-savvy talent and really tap into the whole population – not only because it sounds nice but because of the business case for diversity!
- The ‘new normal’ at work: The pandemic has changed the workplace. How can we continue to motivate, retain and stay connected with our workforce virtually? How do we cater for the needs and interests of millennials, Gen Z and soon Generation Alpha? How do we really make diversity, equity and inclusion part of our work culture and not just pay lip service?
- Continuous partial attention: In a world and time where we are constantly pinged on our phones, laptops and tablets, what does this mean for society and how we conduct business? How do we stay sane, prevent burnout and at the same time reach consumers?
- Tech for good: How can we use technology to make the world a better place and avoid any ‘black mirror’ scenarios, where people’s lives are decided by artificial intelligence and black boxes with potential biases built in by the people that are employed today to write the code?
What’s the toughest interview question you’ve ever asked or been asked?
“What’s the biggest concern you have about hiring me?”
I found it difficult to answer because I wanted to be honest but not offend the person. And I decided not to ever ask the question in an interview setting myself because the last thing I want to do is to draw attention to any potential drawbacks of hiring me.
Who is your business hero and why?
Margarita Thiel, former Managing Director and Head of Corporate Communications at Commerzbank and an inspirational, authentic leader who has always been a role model for me.