Despite all that I chose – driven by my fascination for sales and consumer behaviour – a pretty conservative career in retail. At the age of twenty seven, I started as the youngest store manager for Germany´s largest departement store chain Karstadt, and for the next seven years I was responsible for ten different locations all over the country, lead thousands of employees and managed sales figures in the three digit million range. But while my career just began to kick off, the organization driftet into a huge crisis, so that – together with my teams – I had to fight various internal and external changes on a daily basis (think: VUCA). Locations, Strategies and every single job could me gone from one day to the next, so uncertain was the permanent reorganization. As a leader, I had to shut down department stores. lay of lots of good people, but was also able to plan and execute future oriented projects.
When I was thirty three, I was in charge of one of the largest department stores of the country, and if you would have seen me from the outside, you probably would have said: “He´s made it!” But on the inside I was becoming more and more frustrated, so I gladly said yes, when I was offered a contract by the Swedish furniture company IKEA. During my time in the organization, I got to know the Scandinavian way of leadership as well as the other side of change – the innovative, active and future oriented one.