Katja Wischnewski, head of Corporate Development, about her work at Bahlsen.
Bahlsen is open, forward-looking and willing to change. Employees are encouraged to have their own opinions, and a high degree of freedom is allowed. Importance is attached to individuality and personal relationships, as well as to respect in dealing with other people. This makes it possible for us as employees to shape the company together with regard to the challenges of the future. At the same time we are all explicitly and emphatically called upon to do exactly that. Outstanding performance is an obligation.
After my university course in Business Studies in Munich, I completed a trainee programme at the bank NORD/LB in Hanover. Then I spent several years there in the internal department for management consulting and for mergers & acquisitions in medium-sized companies.
I started at Bahlsen in Controlling. In the course of the following years, this function and its tasks changed and evolved continually - structurally, in personnel, and also in terms of the content of the work. This made the tasks exciting and varied. That is one reason why I enjoyed being responsible for this area for a long time - at the end I was also responsible for IT activities. One of my most important projects was introducing a data warehouse system with the associated organisational establishment of the BICC (Business Intelligence Competence Center), which was also one of my tasks.
For approximately a year now I have been head of the Corporate Development team. As I have always been interested in issues that touch the whole company, and am more a generalist than a specialist, this is a wonderful new challenge for me.
The way we see ourselves in Corporate Development is "We are a think-tank and driver of the strategy of the Bahlsen Group." As a small team, we shape the strategy programme for the group and develop it continuously in a focussed manner with a view to new opportunities and challenges. It is important to us to have our own input in order to drive things ahead. Since 2016 my team has also had responsibility for the subject of sustainability. In this field Bahlsen has a long, credible history, and here we see fantastic future potential - including the potential to differentiate ourselves from competitors.
Those experiences are mostly personal encounters and exciting discussions in which we talk about new courses of action and solve problems together. And of course emotional moments such as moving into the beautiful, newly renovated Bahlsen headquarters a few years ago, our annual Christmas parties there, our big celebration of the 125th anniversary of the company, and lots more.
In my first years at Bahlsen I was involved as a member of project teams on various projects, as Controlling is often an integral part of our project management. I have also been the project manager in various specialist and cross-departmental projects. One of my most important projects, as already mentioned, was introducing a data warehouse system and the associated establishment of the BICC department.
In Corporate Development there is no daily routine. We work on interdisciplinary (project) teams concerned with diverse strategic issues - ranging from new fields of business to concepts for organisational structure and internal projects on corporate culture.
For those who "live" our company values, take on responsibility and perform impressively, Bahlsen offers many individual opportunities. I have learned a great deal from specific internal measures but also from external training, especially about leadership, and I want to continue to learn. In return, of course, I have to perform well - which is more than fair. There is a close connection between giving support and stating expectations. This is how I manage things in my own team.
I have two children (2 and 11 years old) and work part-time as a manager at Bahlsen. It is a permanent effort to make working life and family life compatible, a task that continually stretches me. After all, the company expects 100 per cent quality from me, regardless of whether I have a part-time contract or not. I am grateful that Bahlsen has made it possible for me to have flexible part-time working hours in this position, but nevertheless at the end of the day I am myself responsible for coping with this. I know that this cannot be taken for granted and am happy that this opportunity fundamentally exists, even if - as already emphasised - this doesn't just happen but is a daily challenge. But what would life be without a challenge? Boring!
Emotional themes always play a leading role at Bahlsen. It was already clear in the interview when I applied for a job that Bahlsen is not an employer like any other. The discussion was very personal and quite unconventional. Alongside the hard facts, the spotlight was on the "undertones" and my system of personal values. In this way common ground and compatibility with the corporate culture were examined at an early stage. This is unusual and you have to get used to it, but it is typical of the way we work together at Bahlsen.