…and we continue with our interview series as part of our section „About OTRS“. This time in talk: Our board member Sabine Riedel. Enjoy reading!
Sabine, as a board member, you are responsible for HR and Marketing at OTRS Group. In most companies these are two separate departments. How do you manage to combine the two areas?
That’s actually quite simple: in my understanding, both areas are about relationships, and relationships are shaped primarily through communication. With our corporate culture and the philosophy that underlies our actions, we have defined values that guide us. And these values apply equally to the way we work with colleagues and with our customers. If we achieve congruence here – i.e. remain consistent at all levels – we are on the right track. As a department, HR shapes and maintains human relations, the microcosm in which we review our actions. If this is successful, we have exactly the communication and the tools with which we can and want to shape our customer relationships.
If you had been asked 20 years ago where you saw your professional future, what would you have answered?
I probably would have shrugged my shoulders and said nothing. I never really had the ambition to make a career. Many of my decisions were based on recognizing and using an opportunity. But then I always went to work with 150%. In fact, one of my maxims is “chance favors the prepared mind.” And this “being prepared” means, to me, to go forward with open eyes, to recognize opportunities and to seize them. And, to keep learning – about life, yourself, others and which factors and influences move these interactions.
What is your most important advice to people starting their careers?
I can’t answer that so universally. That´s dependent on the person who asks me the question. But that brings us to the core of what is important to me: how you start your career is a highly individual matter. I would always advise one to gather experience in various fields and, if possible, to do so internationally.
If you can, you should take the opportunity to follow unusual or unconventional paths. In later years, when your private life may no longer be so flexible, it is far more difficult to take an alternative path. That is why it is always worth taking the time to explore at the beginning of a career. But, as I said, it does not suit everyone. Those who need more security and a fixed lifestyle for their well-being will certainly choose a different direction.
Maybe that’s the reason for the general recommendation: Those starting their careers should think about how much security, change, risk, challenge, internationality, etc. they want and can tolerate, and then they should adjust their “plan” accordingly.
What motivates you?
In a nutshell: an inspiring and creative team.
Or in more detail: I find teams, groups and environments in which it is noticeable that you not only look forward to them, but also move forward yourself, very appealing and inspiring. I notice that my own creativity can be extended much better in such situations. And, when something unexpected, unplanned, new and beautiful becomes visible, I find it very motivating.
What is your personal recipe for a good work-life balance?
I am more of a work-life blender. In fact, my work and private life are increasingly merging. And I find that good and personally very liberating. It gives me the feeling of being able to shape my time as it seems necessary in the moment. But it is more important for me to achieve a high degree of satisfaction during the time I devote to my work. Because then I don’t need to create a fictitious balance; instead I feel in harmony with myself and what I do with my available time.
At OTRS, you are, besides other things, an expert on digital transformation. Why do you think a lot of German and US companies are only halfway there when it comes to digital transformation?
I think there are several factors involved. On the one hand, I think that the German mentality as a whole is not one that deals very easily with innovations and change. As Germans, we stand rather for care, thoroughness and precision – values that are contradictory to the principle of transformation and the expected agility that goes with it. In addition, we often tend to “wait and see” rather than proactively push forward. So I can imagine that many companies first want to ensure that digital transformation is not just a trend. Furthermore, the bureaucratic labor law and general social processes that are decisive for us in Germany are often structured in a way that we have to react more cautiously to changes.
In fact, the challenge is more to emphasize that, despite all the differences, there are always similarities, and it is worth finding them out.
OTRS is a pioneer in diversity. How important is this topic for you personally and in your daily work?
I “experienced” diversity very early and got to know it as a general alternative to discrimination. So it wasn’t really new for me to deal with it, especially in my working environment. In fact, the challenge is more to emphasize that, despite all the differences, there are always similarities, and it is worth finding them out. Because on the basis of what connects us, it is easier for us to recognize differences and to benefit from them. Our world is colorful, and that’s exactly how it should be – that’s wonderful.
Do you have a role model? If yes – who and why?
I find it difficult to select a single person as an icon. In my opinion, this does not do sufficient justice to the complexity of the human character. Most of the time, I appreciate humane qualities or characteristics, yet there too my opinion changes again and again.
Generally, I am impressed by people who stand up for an idea and put it into practice. This can happen for different reasons and on all possible levels – be it to fight socially against every form of disadvantage, or for better living conditions of living beings, or for the progress and sustainability of our planet. It is always worthwhile for me to get involved in this way (i.e. to do something better) in order to deal with the ideas and, if necessary, to reorient myself accordingly.