An interview with Antonia Stoiber, VP Sales Development & Strategy – Faces of Gigaset13. March 2023 Published by Jana Greyling
The enhancer: Antonia Stoiber ’s job as VP Sales Development & Strategy is to make sales at Gigaset fit for the future. Increasing digitization is key in that – from the new CRM tool to global retail trends and the right channel mix. Read here why entrepreneurship has top priority in sales at Gigaset.
You can share first-hand what it’s like to work at Gigaset and the exciting, challenging and diverse fields of work our company has to offer. Enjoy reading the latest blog series “Faces of Gigaset.” Maybe you’d like to be featured here soon, too? If so, visit our career portal, find the right job and apply!
In today’s interview, Raphael Dörr, SVP Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, spoke with Antonia Stoiber, VP Sales Development & Strategy.
Ms. Stoiber, tell us a bit about what you do at Gigaset.
Antonia Stoiber: I’m responsible for the Sales Development & Strategy department at Gigaset. Our task is to enhance sales so that it can tackle future challenges. We are represented in over 50 countries with our products, so there’s a lot to do. One core element is the digitization of sales. The rollout of our new CRM tool was a major success in that regard. We also form the interface between Sales and Product Management and deal with how new products can be optimally distributed. We also work on developing sales channel structures and already did the right groundwork for that early on with our channel mix. Last but not least, we observe global retail trends and also address the challenges of our time and find sales solutions for them.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your function?
Antonia Stoiber: Crises and wars are currently shaping our times, both privately and professionally. This balancing act between visions of the future and the mood of crisis is a challenge. In addition to these topics, we’re increasingly focused on what sales will look like in the future. Gigaset is very strong in brick-and-mortar sales. Yet we can see that offline retail is declining, at different speeds in different countries, and that e-commerce is growing in importance. Other challenges are to achieve the ideal balance for all sales channels, to observe sales trends and implement them in the right place at the right time, and to accompany the process of change in retailing. So there are lots of exciting topics our team and company have to deal with.
Tell us about your work at Gigaset. What do colleagues in the industry find special about your job?
Antonia Stoiber: In addition to many exciting aspects, such as our own products being “Made in Germany,” the fact that most of the activities in our value chain are done in-house, and Gigaset’s internationality, the great creative freedom and variety are particularly special. In a company of our size, we have the opportunity to work on a wide range of diverse topics. There are strategic guidelines, but in our everyday work we decide which projects we think make sense and implement them.
What do you love most about your current job?
Antonia Stoiber: Working in our team enriches my day-to-day work immensely. We all have a very different approach and diverse know-how, so we complement each other perfectly when we work together on topics. Everyone has their own defined area of responsibility and together we discuss our goals, the future and seek advice when we can’t find a way forward.
How long have you been at Gigaset and what motivates you moving ahead?
Antonia Stoiber: I joined almost nine years ago and I’ve already experienced many exciting phases at the company – many of them positive, but also some challenging ones. All the phases shape you and bring you closer to the people and the company. Basically, I’ve always been someone who identifies strongly with their work. Nevertheless, it was important for me to see things from different perspectives over the many years, so I regularly changed areas of responsibility internally and have now been the head of the Sales Development & Strategy department since mid-2019.
What stimulates you most about your role?
Antonia Stoiber: We’re fortunate to be able to freely shape our field of work and goals in line with the defined strategy. This creative freedom is very important to my team and me. We like to work on topics we consider important and convince our colleagues along the way. Entrepreneurship is our top priority and we look at how we can best contribute to Gigaset’s success, even if that sometimes means taking on an unpleasant task. Personally, I enjoy working with people, helping them develop and celebrating their successes.
Can you let me into one of the biggest technical challenges you had to overcome?
Antonia Stoiber: Sending my first fax. In fact, a dear colleague helped me out at the time and taught me the art of faxing. However, that was also the first and last fax I’ve been allowed to send.
How has the pandemic changed the way you work?
Antonia Stoiber: Remote working was already a topic before the pandemic, but Covid really sped up the shift. We also experienced a very strong change in the way we work. From one day to the next, most of us had to work from home and, despite the abrupt change, things worked out very well. In the long run, the only sustainable model is one that offers flexibility and choice to employees, yet improves the agility and resilience of companies. For these reasons, and having seen that productivity doesn’t suffer, Gigaset has opted for a hybrid work solution: a combination of days in the office as a place for creative teamwork, discussion sessions and intensive dialog, and days working from home without disruption and where you save time from not having to commute. We in the team are very happy to use this option and benefit from greater flexibility and proactive organization of our daily work.
What makes you optimistic about the future of the telecommunications industry?
Antonia Stoiber: Our Gigaset vision “We create best-in-class communications solutions for your life” is timeless. People will always communicate with each other, but the way they do so has changed and will continue to change greatly in the future. If we in the industry manage to jointly offer solutions that reduce the burden on people and support them in communicating, the industry will have a future. That requires standardized platforms, cross-industry collaboration, flexibility and a keen and open ear for the needs of our customers.
What qualities do you believe are crucial for managers for them to remain relevant and effective?
Antonia Stoiber: Empathy, authenticity, courage, open-mindedness, flexibility, inquisitiveness.
What do you look for when hiring someone?
Antonia Stoiber: Our hiring process is also governed by particular processes. I define the needs and requirements and then receive the preselected applications from the HR department. I’m not primarily interested in applicants whose career has progressed linearly, because it’s also interesting if they have come to us via a roundabout route. The main aspect for me is whether the candidate fits in with us on a personal level and shows that they are able to learn quickly. A structured approach, mental quickness, motivation and an honest, constructive opinion are high on my list; the rest can be learned. Since we have only just grown as a team, it hasn’t been possible so far, but in the future I would like to involve my employees, because they will also work closely with the person and should give their assessment.
What are warning signs that make you think someone isn’t suitable?
Antonia Stoiber: Unreliability. I can rely on my colleagues and my team can rely on me – that’s important to me. Most of the time, that trait is revealed early on in the application process. A lack of integrity. A person should walk the talk. Finding that out in the application process is a bit more difficult.
How do you see the issue of leadership in the future?
Antonia Stoiber: The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed the role of managers, too. Most employees miss the spontaneous, informal and general dialog with colleagues. If this interaction is missing, motivation and identification with the organization grow in importance. Even though we are back to hybrid working, I believe empathy is one of the key factors. The ongoing crises and uncertainties we’re currently experiencing are a serious burden on some of us, and the needs and demands of employees have changed considerably. Managers must learn to delegate responsibility and foster networking. Employees need more freedom. In addition, leadership must be geared not toward attendance, but to results and goals. For the future world of work, it’s particularly important for people in the company to have a shared vision, pursue common goals and understand why we do what we do.
You’re a female manager in an industry that’s largely male-dominated. What has been the most difficult aspect in your career? And the most surprising?
Antonia Stoiber: When you look at social media or the media, the issue of diversity is omnipresent. The pressure is mounting, because more and more people are calling for a change toward more (gender) equality. This awareness is a huge help, although I believe that, irrespective of that, everyone first has to prove their competence. The best idea wins out and everyone should be measured equally by achievement of the goals. In my opinion, it’s very important for women to have courage and self-confidence and to speak up on things, as well as to cultivate a certain easygoingness. My motto is to have confidence and simply not think about differences. The most surprising thing for me was that I was often underestimated, especially in the early days of my career. There were certainly a few wisecracks, but you learn to deal with them professionally. However, the encouragement and support always outweighed that in my professional career.
Ms. Stoiber, many thanks for the interview.