An interview with Isabel Balada Hartmann, Head of Global Account Amazon – Faces of Gigaset16. May 2023 Published by Jana Greyling
E-commerce in strong hands: as Head of Global Account Amazon Isabel Balada Hartmann and her team manage the Europe-wide Amazon account at Gigaset. Read here about what she has experienced on her path to becoming a successful female executive and what leadership qualities she believes are indispensable nowadays.
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In today’s interview, Raphael Dörr, SVP Corporate Communications & Investor Relations, spoke with Isabel Balada Hartmann, Head of Global Account Amazon.
Tell us a bit about what you do at Gigaset.
I am Head of Global Account Amazon at Gigaset, and my team and I manage the Amazon PAN EU account across nine countries centrally from Germany. The challenge here is that Amazon is not a regional customer in the traditional sense, but a platform that operates throughout the EU. In general, there are a large number of topics in e-commerce that are very different from key account management in brick-and-mortar retail. In today’s world, it’s vital to position yourself correctly in e-commerce since it’s growing in relevance due to the increasing share of online business in the retail sector.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this function?
To reconcile the internal structures and processes that have evolved over time with the requirements of e-commerce. At present, existing processes and structures are still strongly oriented toward brick-and-mortar retail and in some cases need to be rethought in order to meet the requirements of online retailing and generate the best possible output.
What made you decide to work at Gigaset?
First, I wanted to switch from retail to industry to get to know the other side; and second, I’m attracted by the challenge of focusing more on online retailing at Gigaset and contributing my e-commerce experience here.
What stimulates you most about your role?
The challenge of gearing Gigaset, a company that is steeped in tradition and focuses on producing in Germany, and its established structures and processes more closely to the dynamic and fast-moving e-commerce business. I worked as Vendor Manager at Amazon, so I know the other side very well and can now use my knowledge to align Gigaset’s processes as closely as possible with Amazon’s needs and requirements in order to leverage the Amazon channel to the best-possible effect.
When you look back on your career, can you name an important risk you took?
To keep getting out of my comfort zone. New challenges, such as a different task area, a new role or a change of industry are always uncomfortable at the start because I have to learn the ropes again, but only by tackling new challenges can I grow and develop.
What qualities do you believe are crucial for today’s managers, especially after a pandemic?
I feel that trust in my own employees is crucial, as are empathy and the courage to make decisions. During my time at Amazon, I learned that it’s always better to take a risk you can assess rather than not make a decision at all.
You’re a female manager in an industry that’s still largely male-dominated. What has been the most difficult aspect on that path? And the most surprising?
It’s an unfortunate fact that women don’t enjoy equal rights in the still male-dominated business world. It’s been my experience that a man is usually credited with having greater expertise and from the outset is thought to be more capable than a woman. There was often a far greater onus on me as a woman to prove myself. I was honestly surprised that I didn’t feel that to be an issue at Gigaset and that I was respected from all sides right from the start.
What advice would you give your younger self – or a young person just starting out in the technology industry?
I think it’s important to stay dynamic and flexible. The world keeps on turning and new things are being developed all the time, especially in the technology industry. That’s why decisions, processes and structures need to be scrutinized regularly and adjusted if necessary. That goes for your own development and the company. And a certain curiosity about new developments and topics from other areas doesn’t hurt.
What do you look for when hiring someone?
Company-specific knowledge, such as product know-how, can be acquired and is not the main criterion for me. It think it’s important for someone to fit in with the team – that is vital – and to have a high degree of intrinsic motivation, entrepreneurial thinking and the desire to take responsibility for and press ahead with their own topics proactively.
So those are the qualities you look for. Now the other side of the coin: What are warning signs that make you think someone isn’t suitable?
If the candidate hasn’t put any effort into the application and the documents contain things like spelling mistakes and formatting errors or uses typical clichés. That leads me to conclude that the applicant lacks motivation and the quality of their work will be unreliable.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Sport and my social contacts are very important for me to wind down from work. Since I live in Munich, I like to go hiking on the weekends. I do yoga or go running during the week.