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"Development is a basic human need"

You started out as a person of numbers and an expert in mathematics here at DFS. How important are “soft” factors – the “human side” – to you?

One thing does not rule out the other. I always had a partiality for numbers. But I was always interested in people, too. This is one of the reasons why I travelled and worked abroad as much as I could. Generally, there is hardly anything better than experiencing how people and teams develop. Development is a basic human need like eating or sleeping: we are able to and we want to learn. And it is an enriching experience for me to create the right conditions for that.  

Let’s take a look at the future: Which major challenge do you see in the field of human resources?

At DFS we have a unique corporate culture. Therefore, I see a major challenge in keeping and enhancing this exceptional asset. This company lives for and through its employees – and that’s why we have to take our employees’ feedback seriously. Of course, there is always room for improvement. That’s why the Great Place to Work survey is so important. However, human resources is not solely responsible for a Great Place to Work: a good business culture is made out of good leadership and motivated employees.

"This company lives for and through its employees – and that’s why we have to take our employees’ feedback seriously."

What do you think makes our business culture so exceptional?

I think that the basis of our culture is that people can trust each other with good conscience. Where does this come from? We at DFS share common values, and integrity is at the very heart of our corporate culture. Only on this base, can a leadership culture that is geared towards empowerment and self-responsibility be established. If I can trust people and assume that they behave responsibly and give their best, then they are fully empowered.

How would you describe your own ideal boss in three adjectives?

At first, a good boss should be approachable and practice an open-door policy. Second, he should stay humble: If you get the human and professional factors right, the employees’ respect comes naturally. Third, a good superior should be able to inspire his employees. And – if it’s okay to add a fourth point – in order to be trustworthy, he should stay authentic. Generally, as a leader, you should simply like to deal with people. It’s as simple as that.

After a long time, you are the first woman in the Board of Management. Are women leading different – and if yes, in what ways?

I’m a big supporter of diversity. Still, I don’t think that women and men lead differently. Of course, there are various leadership styles – but you shouldn’t base that solely on gender. Cultural influences, for example, are just as important: in Germany, we often expect leaders to be as factual as possible. In other cultures, emotions can indeed be a good thing.

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